Friday, January 4, 2013

Athletes and domestic violence - what drastic increase???

Sigh...

Domestic violence is an issue near and dear to my heart.  I don't address this very painful and personal issue often but members of my immediate family have suffered from domestic abuse.  I witnessed it.  Decades later, what I witnessed is still too painful to talk about.  Yet recent media coverage of high profile incidents have led me to write this post tonight.

Deion and Pilar Sanders have been involved in a very public and nasty divorce over the past year.  Deion filed for divorce back in December of 2011.  Since then, Deion has seemingly moved on while Pilar has challenged their prenuptial agreement, asked the court to annul their thirteen year marriage, gotten into a couple of physical altercations with Deion and his family members, and after her arrest back in April began claiming she was the victim of domestic violence.  The Sanders' court proceedings were recently the lead story on the local news for several weeks.

Several days ago and shortly after another seeming defeat in the ongoing divorce battle against Deion, my former Football Wives cast mate Pilar released an open letter alleging domestic violence and infidelity in her marriage (claims Deion has denied).  She also released several pictures of her bloody finger, busted lip and bruises she allegedly sustained in the altercation with Deion that resulted in her arrest.


After spending the night in a Collin County jail, Pilar staged a tearful press conference in which she alleged that she, in fact, was attacked by Deion and that she was merely a victim.  I addressed the incident and her allegations in a previous blog post.  There is no question there was some sort of altercation and that things had clearly gotten out of control in the Sanders house that afternoon.  But what troubled me was Pilar's framing of her abuse claim.  In essence, she and her lawyers argued that Deion was most likely the aggressor.  Why?  Because he played football.  Here is the gist of what her attorney said at that press conference:

The only party that had injuries was his client, that his client weighs 120 lbs and that Deion is a big football player who is used to tackling people for a living and that we can draw our own conclusions from that.

Just what conclusion were we to draw?  That because Deion was a football player he was the aggressor and Pilar was the innocent victim?!?   I'm sorry but suggesting that football players beat their wives is disgusting.  It's just not true.

Sure enough, Pilar has reiterated this connection in recent comments in an effort to elicit public sympathy and become the poster child for domestic violence.  In an interview with Sister 2 Sister magazine that addresses the "growing pattern of athletes who physically abuse their spouses," Pilar states, "[there is a] very drastic increase of athletes, football players who snap and unfortunately take their lives and other people's lives with them.... It's very, very, very not uncommon when you speak with other NFL wives, football wives, athletes' wives..."  I'm not sure what drastic increase in player-related murder suicides she's referring to.  I only know of one that happened recently.

While I could CARE LESS about Pilar and her shenanigans, I am deeply bothered by her flippant remarks regarding athletes and domestic violence and specifically her attempt to link NFL players with spousal abuse in an attempt to save face and garner public sympathy.  Professional sports are not immune to domestic violence but despite Pilar's contentions, being a pro-athlete does not make one more likely to be aggressive off the field and commit spousal abuse.

There is no shortage of media coverage when a high-profile athlete or celebrity is involved in some sort of domestic abuse incident.  From O.J. Simpson and the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson to the more recent tragedy involving the murder of UVA women's lacrosse player Yeardley Love at the hands of her lacrosse playing boyfriend George Huguely, we hear about these situations because they are newsworthy based on the parties involved, not because there is a drastic increase of domestic incidents involving athletes or because athletes are more likely to commit these violent acts.  Several studies have been done yet none have conclusively linked participation in sports to a greater propensity to commit domestic violence.  These unfortunate and tragic newsworthy tragedies involving professional athletes are merely a reflection of a greater societal problem.  

And because Pilar has a public platform, she has a responsibility to get her facts straight.

Here's the reality:
  • Every nine seconds a woman in the United States is beaten or abused;
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women;
  • Studies suggest that over 10 million children witness domestic violence annually;
  • Everyday in the U.S., three women are killed by their husbands/boyfriends;
  • Men who as children witnessed their own parents' domestic abuse are twice as likely to abuse their own spouses;
  • One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime;
  • Women are not the only victims - men are victims of more than 3 millions assaults every year at the hands of their spouses;
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women;
  • Women ages 20 to 24 are at the greatest risk for becoming victims of nonfatal domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a societal problem, not one that is unique to professional sports.  I visited numerous websites to collect these statistics.  There is a statistic that is obviously missing - I didn't find one statistic on any domestic violence awareness website that said athletes are more likely to commit violent acts against women because they play contact sports.  There is certainly no conclusive evidence that football players who  make a living playing a violent sport are more likely to be abusive to their spouses.

Several recent domestic violence incidents have attracted international attention.  Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson battered his reality star wife Evelyn Lozada during an argument shortly after their wedding.  Evelyn quickly got a restraining order against Chad and Chad was almost immediately cut from the Miami Dolphins as a result of the incident.  He went unsigned for the rest of the football season.  More recently, Kansas City Chief Jovan Belcher murdered the mother of his infant daughter then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in front of head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli at the Chiefs' practice facility.  While both incidents are incredibly tragic, the media attention given to them is not indicative of a drastically increasing problem of domestic violence in the NFL.  Pilar has compared her situation to the Belcher tragedy on more than one occasion, trying desperately to find some sort of common ground to suggest she was somehow at risk of suffering the same fate at the hands of Deion Sanders.  These attempts are pathetic and dishonor the short life of Belcher's victim Kasandra Perkins.

I question just how many NFL wives Pilar has actually spoken to.  I have plenty of football wife friends (a lot of them - we were on five teams over the course of seven seasons) and while I can say that I have heard of some spousal abuse issues, these situations appear to be the exception rather than the norm.  I understand that domestic violence is the most under-reported crime but trust, we talk to each other.  The NFL is a small world...

This blog post is not meant to attack Pilar, but I hope it makes her think before she speaks next time she wants to erroneously link football and domestic violence.  Pilar may actually be a true victim of domestic violence, but making unsubstantiated and false claims linking football and violence against women in an attempt to slander and disparage her soon-to-be ex Deion is just wrong.  If she's truly concerned about the well-being and best interest of her children as she suggest, I'd suggest she stop releasing pictures of the alleged violence all over the internet (see point above about children who witness their parents' domestic violence).  I'm all about using our situations to bring awareness to societal issues, but if one chooses to do so, she should do so responsibly.

I'd like to see Pilar walk the walk - if she's truly concerned about victims of domestic violence, she should volunteer at one of the local charities that support them like Women Called Moses or Genesis Women's Shelter.  Don't be a part of the problem by spreading lies - be a part of the solution. 

And before Team Pilar hops on my blog talking smack and telling me I don't know the whole story, this blog post is based on the information she has publicly released and I am perfectly within my right to draw my own conclusions from it.  You don't like it, don't read my blog.

34 comments:

Terri said...

Well said..

Anonymous said...

Just as OJ Simpson established himself as a brand, Deion Sanders has done the same. We believe athletes are uncapable of these types of acts due to the public perception we have of them.

With the many studies attributing head trauma/concussions to severe depression and irritability (http://pamela99.hubpages.com/hub/Trauma-to-the-Head-Concussions-Can-be-Serious) does the various mood swings the players suffer cause them to snap as a result of an antagonistic mate?

Deion himself has been a victim of a concussion and downplays the seriousness of them (http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d8292dd8a/article/deion-sanders-downplays-risks-of-concussions-in-youth-football).

Just as the public refused to believe Eddie Long Stroke was not interested in young men, based on his persona as a highly regarded man of God, how disheartening for his congregation when he came out and "admitted" wrongdoing?

As the NFL is starting to acknowledge the long-term effects of concussions within current and former athletes, it unfortunately gives credence to the idea that football in itself is just as harmful to ones brain as boxing.

I would respect Pilar more had she left Deion as a result of the abuse he inflicted allegedly has inflicted upon her, as Nicole Jones left her abusive spouse Andruw Jones (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20130102/andruw-jones-divorce.ap/), but Pilar had a motive to uphold his image, money.

Pilar's claims are no more than an attempt to smear Deion's character in an effort to decrease his cash flow since she no longer has the pleasure of spending it.

Good luck Pilar.

Dawn Neufeld said...

Thank you for taking the time to compose your comment - don't be anonymous though!

You somehow link concussions with domestic violence. There is no such link. My husband has had numerous concussions and has dealt with depression, irritability, etc. It's not an issue we downplay at all. Yet he has not acted aggressively towards me EVER. Suffering from concussions does not make one an abuser.

I also acknowledged that there are definitely domestic abuse issues in their relationship and in football. So to suggest that I'm saying Deion isn't capable of abusing his soon-to-be ex-wife is false.

Dawn Neufeld said...

Thanks again for commenting!

Melissa said...

I would say there is some correlation between the two. Not saying it effects everyone in the same manner, but could play a part in some degree.

It's pretty low down to use that as an excuse after the fact, but Pilar has no skills or jobs on the horizon, so let her be great and see how far this takes her! btw, didnt mean to be anon.

Dawn Neufeld said...

Yes - I agree. There may be some correlation. Probably has a lot to do with machismo, winning, always being right, etc. There just isn't any concrete evidence emphatically linking the two.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...



I believe that the whole moral of the story here is that people have died, families have been torn apart and people have taken there on lives, all for what to chase a ball in order to get a paycheck? I just hope that you are not trying to place blame on Pilar, I believe that Pilar has a right to her opinion, her entire family has been torn apart. Pilar seems to love her ex-husband and her family so perhaps she is just trying to make some sense out of the whole situation. Futhermore I believe that if Tracey wasn't in the picture Deion would be back with Pilar. So who's really chasing the checks? I remember seeing football wives and clearly you and Pilar did not get along. So I would just like to say to you that your entire post seems bias, post something that is meaningful. Stop trying to attack people for what they believe. Because the only person that knows what happen with Pilar and Deion is GOD and only he can JUDGE.

Dawn Neufeld said...

Anonymous - it is no secret that Pilar don't get along. Football Wives was a long time ago though. If you for one minute think I'm the type to hold on to a grudge from over two years ago, you've got the wrong chick.

If you don't like what I post, don't read my blog.

And don't hide behind anonymity next time.

Anonymous said...

This entire blog was just wrong!!! To take a picture of a potential battered women and post it to a blog and then attempt to belittle and smear the women is just simply unhumanitarian, what type of message are you trying to send from this blog,to the women who are living in fear everyday? how is this blog helping anyone? After reading the comments I too feel that you have some type of anger towards Pilar why else would you write anything so hurtful about another human being?

Anonymous said...

It is obvious you are holding some "ill negative emotion" towards her. I respect your blog and its your opinion however your rants are getting quite boring and old. You are basically being the typical "black woman syndrome" who never has anything nice to say and gloats on another womans unfortunate situation. If the NFL and Domestic Violence organizations have not addressed it then why are you loosing sleep about it? Is the demise of Pilar and Deion's marriage, their life, and destruction of family costing you to loose money or take a paycut on your checks you bring home? Is it affecting your marriage and raising your children? Then you need to stick to things to blog about that you exeperience first hand such as your autism campaigns-which I fully support and your pageants. Who are you to determine a "true domestic violence victim". You are merely someone who witnessed domestic violence to someone else and not an actual victim yourself. Remember karma is something else. As the old folks say make sure your garden is cared for before downtalking somebody else's. Your garden aint full of roses either!

Anonymous said...

and for the record I am not trying to be anonymous it just did not give me a section to state my name--for the record my name is Kimberly Kimmons--I just posted about the "black woman syndrome"

Dawn Neufeld said...

The entire post was just wrong? Was I wrong about the domestic violence statistics? Maybe wrong about the other domestic violence issues I discussed. No? So then maybe the entire post is not wrong. You just don't agree with my opinion.

I didn't "smear" Pilar - she is smearing herself to any media outlet who will listen. I'm just giving my opinion about what she's putting out there. It's America. A free country that protects my right to free speech. I will continue to express on when I feel something is worthy of my attention.

This blog will help the local women's shelters I linked to - maybe Pilar should visit one. Maybe this post will help Pilar's kids - they don't need to see bloody pictures of their mother all over the internet.

You are as biased as me so you can't appreciate the message of this post. And that's unfortunate.

Dawn Neufeld said...

No rant here. This is a well written article addressing someone's false claims. I address the real issues and problems with Pilar trying to connect her situation to the drastically increasing group of women who are being abused by their football player husbands (there is no drastic change by the way).

A rant? I could get on this blog and call Pilar all sorts of names. I could be classless and talk about other personal issues that have yet been released to the public. Nope. Not here. I ain't got time for that!

I can blog about anything I want - it's my blog. If a topic I find worthy of discussions is Deion and Pilar's marriage (or lack of one), I will write about it.

Believe me - no sleep lost on this one. It wasn't hard to write.

Dawn Neufeld said...

Accusing me of the crab in the bucket syndrome?!? Now THAT's funny. If you understood the syndrome, the crabs at the bottom pull those at the top back into the bucket so they can't continue to succeed. For your theory to work, Pilar would need to be in a better position than me, and that just isn't the case. I'm married, got my kids, live in a nice house, have a great job, I'm able to pursue my passions, I'm blessed, have great friends, etc. Not sure what Pilar has going on these days that would put her ahead of that. Not much I can think of.

Dawn Neufeld said...

And by the way... you don't have to actually be hit to be a victim of domestic violence...

Anonymous said...

Are you really concerned about Pilar and Deion's kids? cause if I remember Deion was pictured all over the internet in bed with a 19 year old girl, while still married, didn't see you mention anything about that also Pilar took a polygraph test which determined that she never cheated on Deion during the duration of their marriage. Furthermore even the girl's own mother admitted that her daughter slept with Deion. So trust that when Pilar's kids get old enough to understand what really happen, believe me they are going to stand by there Mama.

Anonymous said...

Dawn who are you to determine false claims? Do you know what goes on behind their closed doors? Come on you are smarter than that. You don't have to educate me about domestic violence because I can walk the walk and talk my talk because I am a survivor of a very violent domestic violence situation. All I'm saying is you have a lot of contradictions in your statements. You blog openly but don't encourage people to voice their views--I mean what? If that is the case then don't put it public and discuss it at a tea party with your girlfriends. All I am saying is you have too many other things going on with your life to "give the appearance to the public" that your consumption is on Pilar instead of the positive good things going on in your life. Again "make sure your kitchen is clean and stays clean" while you're focusing on someone else's downfalls and faults. It won't be nice if your downfall is made public and smeared across the world. And again your comments "typical black woman syndrome"

Anonymous said...

Dawn let me start by saying that you are a attractive woman, a mother who fights for her children, very smart and well spoken and successful at what you do. However.. After reading your retaliation to anyone who dares to disagree with you I must say that you sound quite childish, spiteful and immature in your responses. We get it.. You don't like Pilar... I'm not her biggest fan but NO ONE but God can say for certainty that her claims of abuse are false. I work with battered women for a living, have taken and seen THOUSANDS of domestic violence photos... And in my opinion those of hers that were released look like the real deal (and before you ask yes, that is my professional opinion). As a Christian woman I don't understand why you have so much hatred towards her and DEDICATE so much of your personal time to writing about her. You were no angel on the show. Furthermore what makes you think her children haven't witnessed the abuse first hand either by seeing it or suffering it themselves. Were you there? Your a good person and I respect how you honor and fight for your son. My neice has Asperger's. God bless you sweetheart. Have a good night. FYI: I'm remaining anonymous due to my professional position as a case worker here in Arlington.

Dawn Neufeld said...

Dear caseworker in Arlington,

I appreciate your comments, but here's the reality...

1. I don't hate anyone or anything except taxes, and even those are necessary.
2. I clearly said that something very inappropriate was going on in the Sanders house.
3. As a domestic violence caseworker, you should agree thhat her statements were false regarding football players andd domestic violence. This blog post is about that and my desire to clear up that issue. I advocate for football players like my husband and I don't agree with the connection she's trying to make.
4. Her children HAVE witnessed the altercations - why subject them to the images further? You see I didn't directly post those pics on my blog.
5. I have tallked about many controversial issues on this blog - Pilar is not the only person I've disliked or disagreed with.

Dawn

Dawn Neufeld said...

Kim,

Consumption with Pilar? Last time I blogged about her and Deion was April when they were all over the news. If I was consumed, wouldn't I address them a bit more frequently?

I don't know what goes on behind closed doors but I can assure you I wrote this blog with more than Twitter knowledge about their situation....

Again, you don't like it, don't read my blog.

Dawn Neufeld said...

I could care less about who is sleeping with whom, etc. That's not the point about this post. This post addresses very serious claims that football players are capable of committing egregious acts towards women. They are, but no more likely than anyone else in society.

This is when you know you are getting trolls - folks who disregard the content of the blog and start attacking personally and bringing up random facts. If yo don't like my blog, don't read it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dawn,
I don't understand why you will not post my comment regarding the following?
Reaching out a hand to help Pilar
Reaching out a hand to help the CHILDREN
Congrats to Tracey and Deion

As women, as mothers, as wives, as humans, and the many diverse roles we have , we should come together and fight for the good of this family. I understand that Mr. Sanders wants to be with another woman. I don't support it, but it is his right. Again, I say, Pilar Sanders is hurting! What she doesn't realize is that she will be okay. As her "sisters" we should support her during this difficult time and protect her. If she is hurting, so are her children! What she seemingly does not realize is that she will be financially, physically, and mentally okay. LET DEION SANDERS GO! OPEN THE DOOR for him! She is beautiful, smart, and there are many, many other multimillionaire "MEN" who adore her. I hope you will post my opinion. I applaud you for your successful family, career, ect. We are blessed by GOD. But. I assure you, life has a way of dealing the best of us hard times ( illness, financial woes, problems with our children), even you. Proceed with caution Dawn, the wheels of life will one day turn your way. All of us, including myself, should be there to support each other. Again, I post congratulations on the upcoming engagement, marriage , and life for Tracey and Deion. LOL

Anonymous said...

Question You mentioned that this blog is suppose to bring light about the facts of football players and domestic violence, Meanwhile You post a picture of a women who has stated that she has been abused mentally and verbally and at the end of the marriage physically then you attempt to discredit her story. So how is this blog shedding light in a positive manner? you also mention that you would like to see Pilar volunteer at an abused woman's shelter. What makes you think that she hasn't? because from my sources Pilar has spoke to several women. Also as a prior truth mom I have seen the verbal abuse on Pilar in the past with my own eyes. So be careful trying to protect folk that you no nothing about. I believe that Pilar has a right to protect her image just like Deion, she may not be a big football celebrity but she is a child of GOD and a mother, also if you watched the reality show you saw that Pilar did everything around that house and for her kids while Deion rode around on a scooter acting like he was king of the world, he never appeared to spend time with those kids and on top of that he would urinate all over the family lawn.

Anthony said...

What a well written and heartfelt post. Indeed, domestic violence is one of the most troubling aspects of our society affecting not only the individual victims, but entire families as well.
It seems every week in my local paper I read of a women beaten by her ex. Or worse, the poor woman last year reported missing, found two weeks later in a ditch, killed by her ex. So sad.......

Maybe we need more church, more family time, more togetherness....something to help couples survive and families prosper.

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget that Pilar has lost custody of two of her children. For any mother I'm sure that is hurtful, has anyone thought about the pain that she must be going threw. And as recently as today another woman bragging about spending time with HER kids. This is all really a slap in the face and I pray that all of the ones involved can live with themselves. Karma is real!

Dawn Neufeld said...

Being hurt because the court found that it was in the children's best interest to be taken out of your custody doesn't justify Pilar's actions. If anything, it explains them.

I know Pilar has a publicist - quite sure one of these Anonymous comments came from her.

Anonymous said...

Dawn,

It's unfortunate that you continue to judge Pilar. This blog segment is clearly used as a guise to yet again get your digs into that woman. Domestic violence aside, you really need to let it go. Don't know her personally and know you enough to realize I like you less and less. Sigh. Pre-Football Wives you were likeable and real. You have become a drama queen and feed off it. You are barely recognizable these days.

Dawn Neufeld said...

So you knew me before Football Wives?!?!? I assure you I haven't changed.

We all judge. You just judged me. Please don't be a hypocrite.

Dawn Neufeld said...

And (1) totally fine with me if I'm not recognizable. I'm not trying to be. (2) Please don't hide behind an anonymous blog post so when we do see each other you don't smile in my face. Thanks.

Dawn Neufeld said...

Folks mad because I told the truth. Shame. I stand by what I said.

Nichole said...

I have read this article frontwards and backwards. There is no attack on Pilar. It was clearly stated if you truly read the blog "there is no question there was some sort of altercation and that things had clearly gotten out of control in the Sanders house that afternoon." To me, this article is simply stating there is no research base to back up the claim they are trying to use which is "Deion is a big football player who is used to tackling people for a living and that we can draw our own conclusions from that."

Now, I have only heard of 4 cases dealing with athletes within the past few months. I have seen more DV on the rise between your "average Joe" than anything. What about those women and men that are loosing their lives? Lost a friend a few weeks ago to DV cause she wanted a divorce. Stop focusing on whether or not someone hates Pilar and trying to smear her name. Focus on the real issue which is Domestic Violence.

Is Pilar doing anything now to learn more about this? Has she reached out to her NFL wives sister's and talked with them to see if they have dealt with this?( I would think other NFL Wives would come forth to help raise awareness by now or will they keep quite cause this is a sisterhood?) Is she going to any shelters and volunteering her time with other DV women? Is she attending any counseling sessions?

Domestic Violence effects all walks of life. I've seen DV in action and have been apart of it. Would I be wrong to say the verbal abuse I sustained and the ONE & only time he grabbed me came from a Marine officer and has served in war. Can I use the fact that he is mental and use the fact of what he saw overseas the reason why he is violent? That would mean every person that is in the military who fought for our country will come back violent? Am I wrong for saying that? Of course.

There is a huge problem and it is coming from all walks of life and profession. Let's stop being apart of the problem and start being apart of the solution to end Domestic Violence!

Dawn Neufeld said...

I'm not going to post your comment because I can't quite tell if you're legit or not, but if you are, I suggest you find a new doctor for your wife. I've NEVER heard of a pregnant woman being told that her unborn child "might" have autism. I mean, I guess there's always a chance since 1 in 88 children are now being diagnosed on the spectrum. But there is no test to determine whether a child in utero is going to have autism.

If you would like to discuss further, please feel free to post another message. I will get it in my inbox and if you leave an email address or contact information, I'd be happy to respond personally (and confidentially).

All the best, and I hope you and your wife get some help.

-Dawn

Anonymous said...

Hi please know that there is another blog specifically talking about this same subject and many comments have been made about how your blog is purely bias. Also some have stated that Deion has promised to pay bloggers to attempt to smear Pilar's name, I certainly hope your blog is not one of them.

Dawn Neufeld said...

A can assure you NO ONE has paid me for this or any other blog post. Solely my opinion with no outside influence. Yes, it may be biased, towards truth.