Aside from the World Cup, this summer was not the most wholesome or ethical in the world of sports. In June, Seattle Reign and US Women’s National Soccer Team goalie Hope Solo was arrested on two charges of domestic violence assault allegations. When police arrived to the Solo/Stevens’, residence she had allegedly struck her sister and nephew while in an intoxicated state. Solo pled not guilty and is awaiting a November 2014 trial.
Although Solo has been charged with such heinous allegations against family members, she continues to play on the US Women’s National Team and recently wore a captain’s armband during a September match. Public backlash against the USWNT’s decision in allowing Solo to continue playing despite the charges against her has not reached the level of other domestic violence cases like those of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.
This raises the following questions: Why are domestic violence cases in which women are the aggressors less publicly covered and condemned? Are cases where males are the victims of domestic violence as common as cases involving women? Why doesn’t the US Women’s National Team have a policy in place for these types of cases? What is the rate of domestic violence charges against female athletes?
Omar Kelly, radio personality and the Miami Dolphin’s beat writer from the Sun Sentinel made some interesting points regarding these questions.
“People don’t want to acknowledge female domestic violence” said Kelly, “there are women with violent tendencies just as there are men with violent tendencies.”
During college Kelly dated a woman who whenever angered would hit him. As the relationship progressed, her violence increased to the point that during a specific altercation Kelly had to push her off in order to protect himself from her violent tantrum.
“I realized that there was no way to stay in the relationship. If I were to defend myself I would end up being arrested because I didn’t have any markings on me” said Kelly.
According to PBS.org, although 95% percent of domestic violence victims are in fact women, men who have been hit, punched or scratched by their female partner claim that they are not afraid of their partner; supporting the assumption that many men who are victims of domestic violence suffer in silence and don’t seek help.
“I don’t think Hope Solo should get a free pass, but since women aren’t really involved as perpetrators it isn’t shocking that they [US Women’s National Soccer team] don’t have a policy regarding domestic violence,” said Dr. Louise Davidson-Schmich, director of the Women and Gender Studies department and a professor at the University of Miami.
“There isn’t much statistics about female athlete domestic violence issues,” she said, “and it should be looked into further.”
According to the A Better Way organization, 1,232 women are killed every year by intimate partners.
This past summer has proved that not all athletes are held to the same standard of accountability as common citizens. Hope Solo continues to play for the USWNT as she awaits her trial while Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are suspended. And even though there are more women who die as a result of domestic violence, it should not eclipse the fact that there are men that are victimized as well. Society has created a double standard for domestic violence.
words_dora williams. illustration_michelle brener