Dear Chuck D: Growing Up With Your Father Won’t Protect You from Domestic Violence
By now you’ve probably heard that former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice was terminated by his team and “suspended indefinitely” by the NFL. Although a video of Rice dragging his then-fiancé’s unconscious body from an elevator surfaced six months ago, Rice was only booted from the league on Monday when TMZ released a second video showing the former player’s vicious attack.
Despite the horrific nature of the assault, many took to social media to debate who was to blame for “ruining” Rice’s career. Many rightly pinned the blame squarely on the shoulders of the former star, while others blamed TMZ for publishing the video or Rice’s wife, Janay Palmer, for somehow provoking the attack. Legendary rapper Chuck D took another approach, asking his Twitter followers if Rice would have dared to abuse his wife if she had been “really raised” by her father.
After many questioned his logic and accused the rapper of victim blaming, Chuck D tried to explain his position. “Here’s a better way of asking this,” he wrote. “What stands in the way of males mind thinking he can hit a woman & get away with it?”
Though Chuck D claimed he wasn’t attempting to “blame” Palmer for being attacked, his words were still a blight on her character, as if being raised by a father should have protected her from being a victim. Under Chuck D’s logic, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Mike Brown’s very involved fathers should been enough to put the fear of God in their killers, but we know how that turned out.
Here’s the thing: Women who are “really raised” by their fathers are abused by their husbands and boyfriends every single day.
And if the threat of losing millions of dollars in contract and endorsement deals wasn’t enough to motivate Rice to keep his hands to himself, it’s difficult to see how his wife’s parents would have had much of an effect.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States,” which adds up to more than 12 million men and women a year. And while Chuck D seems to think a woman’s parents—no matter how old she is or how far away she lives—can protect her from domestic abuse, the facts just don’t bear this out.
Over on Twitter, scores of women flooded the social network to recount their experience with domestic violence, many confronting Chuck D’s question head-on, noting they were raised in two-parent homes and still abused. I, too, responded to Chuck D, explaining that being raised with my father didn’t prevent me from getting slapped by a former partner.
His response? “…and what happened?”
In short: nothing. But not because my father wasn’t ready or willing to kick my ex’s ass, but because victims of domestic violence are often too embarrassed and too ashamed to tell anyone about their abuse.
And therein lies the rub. While Chuck D asserts a strong father can deter a man from hitting a woman, the only person who can prevent violence is the attacker. Had Ray Rice kept his hands to himself he would still be in the league, still be earning millions of dollars, and still be a respected star. But he didn’t. Rice decided throw it all away and attack his wife, and that isn’t Janay’s—or her father’s—fault.