Clay Moyle and son



Like many others I‘ve been following the story of Ray Rice and his suspension by the NFL for punching and knocking out his fiancé Janay Palmer (now wife) in an elevator hotel with interest.

The NFL initially suspended Rice for the first two games of the season, but once TMZ released a video which showed the actual punch and knockout, the NFL quickly reacted to the public furor and announced Rice was now suspended indefinitely. His team, the Baltimore Ravens, also moved quickly, immediately terminating his contract.

Rice was clearly in the wrong and the video isn’t easy to watch. But, I couldn’t help but think that some good might come from it as a result of the subsequent increase in public awareness concerning the problem of domestic abuse.

It’s clearly a bigger problem than many people realize and while the NFL has come under a lot of scrutiny for their handling of the matter and this type of behavior by a handful of players; they are really just a microcosm of society as a whole.

I read a couple of statistics the other day that one in every four women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, and three to four million are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands. That’s pretty mind boggling. The same source indicated that 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women.

But, I’ve seen other sources that indicate more than 40 percent (two in five) of victims of domestic violence are male. One source in particular, a British publication named The Guardian, said that “Male victims are almost invisible to the authorities such as the police, who rarely can be prevailed upon to take the man’s side,” and that “Culturally it’s difficult for men to bring these incidents to the attention of the authorities. They’re reluctant to say they’ve been abused by women, because it’s seen as unmanly and weak.”

I don’t know what the true figures are, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the latter is true, and that the percentage of victims who are males really is as high as 40 percent.

I recently finished co-authoring a biography about a two-time boxing middleweight champion of the world who was frequently physically attacked and kneed in the groin by his first wife. His name was Tony Zale and that book will be available before year-end. At one point during the relationship, she made the mistake of trying to hit him with a right cross that he instinctively slipped and countered with a blow of his own that resulted in some dental work for his wife. But, that was an isolated incident and he was typically the party on the receiving end.

Over the past weekend I also finished reading an autobiography by former Canadian heavyweight boxer George Chuvalo, who included his wife among the list of parties that he’d suffered the hardest blows from. He listed in chronological order a glass pitcher, frying pan, and an oar ‑ of all things ‑ as items she clocked him over the head with during their marriage.

I know a couple of men myself who found themselves on the receiving end of physical abuse from women in their lives. One of those was married with a young daughter, and although bigger and stronger than his wife he suffered for years from her physical attacks. He told me of numerous occasions where she kicked him in the groin, hit him upside the head with various objects, punched him and on one occasion he lifted his shirt and showed me the teeth marks on his chest where she’d bitten him during one of those attacks.

The one time he hit her occurred during one such attack. In an attempt to subdue her he threw a blanket over her and finally delivered his own punch to the head. That brought an end to that particular incident, but it didn’t prevent future attacks on her part. There were also numerous objects thrown in his direction over the years they were together and many of those tosses found their mark.

I questioned why on earth he would stay with her. The only answer he could provide was that he loved his young daughter and he didn’t want to leave her. But, clearly the relationship was doomed and I feared that at some point it might escalate and one or the other would be more seriously hurt.

Ultimately, they separated and divorced before that occurred.

Another friend, a big strong relatively mild mannered fellow, used to get hit by his wife with various objects. He ultimately left her and took out a restraining order against her before obtaining a divorce.

I saw an interesting video on an on-line site not long ago where two actors staged two separate scenes in London to see how bystanders would react in each case. In the first scene, the male was physically abusive of the female out in public. In that situation, a number of women, as well as men, immediately intervened and came to the aid of the female victim.

But, when the roles were reversed and the two parties staged a scene where it was the female who was physically abusing the male, hitting him in the head, pushing him around, etc., nobody intervened and instead there were many people seen who were obviously amused by the situation.

Domestic violence is a huge problem. And while I’d be more concerned about the potential abuse suffered by women, I think it’s important to understand they aren’t the only victims. Many men actually are as well.

Hopefully, Rice’s story will result in a greater awareness and education concerning domestic violence on all fronts.