Professional sports has a domestic violence problem


Professional sports has a domestic violence problem.

Most recently, Josh Brown, kicker for the New York Giants, admitted to emotionally, physically, mentally, and verbally abusing his now ex-wife, Molly Brown. He also admitted to abusive behavior toward women from the age of 7 after having been sexually abused as a child.

Cycle of violence

Each year in the U.S., 1 in 15 children is exposed to intimate partner violence. And 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence. Globally, men exposed to domestic violence as children—men like Josh Brown—are three to four times more likely to abuse their partners than men who did not.

There is never an excuse for abusive behavior or intimate partner violence. And at LifeWire, we believe that holding abusive partners accountable is critical to dismantling a culture that tolerates and perpetuates abuse.

At the same time, we can no longer afford to keep domestic violence prevention efforts on the sidelines of anti-violence work. Until we examine the root causes of abusive behaviors and build effective programs designed to address them, this epidemic will continue to impact the lives of tens of millions of people in our communities.

Preventing domestic violence

LifeWire has taken a nationwide program developed by Futures Without Violence to scale in school districts across King County—Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM)—that seeks to do just that. We equip coaches with a comprehensive violence prevention curriculum, emboldening them to teach their young male athletes healthy relationship skills, and most importantly, that violence never equals strength.

“Sports coaches are very influential in the lives of young men and are uniquely positioned to have a positive impact on young men’s beliefs and behaviors both on and off the field,” said Ward Urion, LifeWire Social Change Manager. “Through CBIM, coaches learn how to help their young athletes build respectful, equitable, and non-violent relationships with the people in their lives.”

And the program is working.

Helping athletes build healthy relationships

In 2012, CBIM underwent a rigorous, three-year evaluation in Sacramento, California. Male athletes who participated in the program reported:

  • Greater intentions to intervene when witnessing disrespectful behavior or abusive behavior;
  • Increase in attitudes that promote gender equity; and
  • Decrease in dating abuse perpetration.

Programs like Coaching Boys into Men have the potential to break the cycle of violence so that millions of child survivors—children like Josh—can learn a different and better way forward.