Safe At Home: Domestic Violence in MLB and Lessons to be Learned (By: Zach Draves)
As many have heard, Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell returned from a 40 game suspension after it was reported that he physically and emotionally abused his ex-wife dating as far back as June 2017. The reaction to his return was mixed. Some fans welcomed him back with the belief in second chances. Others understandably resented his return to the point where he was booed as he was on the field and up to bat against the Miami Marlins on May 8th, 2019. This past week, we saw that LA Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias was arrested after a domestic dispute with a woman in a public mall in Beverly Hills. He was subsequently put on administrative leave and there is an ongoing investigation. There is much to take away from these cases given the response by Major League Baseball and these respective teams. They took swift action immediately following the reports of each of these arrests and conducted their own investigations. The Cubs contacted a local domestic violence agency and asked about programs available that would hold abusers accountable, otherwise known as PAIP, which stands for Partner Abuse Intervention Program. The league along with the players association agreed on a comprehensive policy in 2015. It addressed four crucial components:
1. Treatment and Intervention: A board consisting of three domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse experts, two representatives from the players association, and the commissioner’s office are in charge of developing a treatment plan and to ensure the victim’s safety along with their family and children is first and foremost.
2. Investigations: The commissioner’s office is to conduct an investigation into any case of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse among members of MLB. They will put the perpetrator on paid administrative leave for up to seven days.
3. Discipline: The Commissioner will decide on the appropriate punishment with no minimum or maximum penalty.
4. Training, Education, and Resources: All players will be given resources in English and Spanish on domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. Resources will be available to victims and their families such as contact information on organizations, hotline numbers, outreach facilities, and referrals as well as a 24 hour confidential hotline. Community outreach programs are to be in place to help raise awareness throughout the league.
Based on the information given on these recent cases, MLB stepped up to the plate. They followed through on what needed to be done to ensure that the players are held responsible for their actions and most importantly made their primary focus the victim’s safety and well-being. The only recommendations that I believe should be added to this policy is that the perpetrators, after completing their suspension, must engage in outreach and education efforts, specifically to other men about the reality of men’s violence against women and hold other men accountable for sexist and misogynistic behaviors and actions. That outreach must also include a focus on how to break the box of toxic masculinity and redefine the whole idea of manhood away from the stereotypical attributes of toughness, strength, and aggression. There should also be a commitment to gender equality. The other recommendation is that the players must donate a portion of their salary to anti-violence organizations, shelters, and crisis centers as well as to groups working to help men and boys embrace a healthy example of masculinity. These organizations can be each of the following:
1. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org/
2. A Call To Men: http://www.acalltomen.org/
3. Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP): https://www.mvpstrat.com/
4. Futures Without Violence: https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/
5. Men Can Stop Rape: https://mcsr.org/
6. Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation: https://joetorre.org/
Now, only time will tell if these players have truly learned their lesson but this conversation needs to be ongoing to ensure that this issue is never swept under the rug.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and would like assistance and someone to talk to please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233.