No Gray Area

Too often, people make things that should be black-and-white into a gray area. There’s absolutely no excuse, for instance, for cheating on a significant other— but of course people continue to justify and excuse the behavior of their darling cheaters so that they can stay in relationships with people who don’t respect them enough to remain monogamous. And there’s never a single instance where rape is not a heinous, vicious crime, but some people still continue to insist that its victims “ask for it.”

And then, of course, domestic violence. It’s such a simple concept. People in relationships do not hit each other. Period.

At least, that’s the way it should be. But people stay with abusers all the time. People at all levels of society stay with violent partners—everyone from teenage mothers on welfare to wives of professional baseball players.

So while it’s not exactly news that people stay with abusive partners, this particular case of it is. While the Phillies were in town this past summer, pitcher Brett Myers was seen beating his wife Kim on the streets of Boston. But this past week, the charges were dropped. Kim didn’t want him to be prosecuted.

I have yet to decide what the most disturbing part of this is:

1. That she’s going back to a man who has no qualms about hitting her on the street in front of people, so God knows what he does to her behind closed doors

2. That the statements of the people who witnessed the incident, and who were only trying to help, can be completely disregarded because Kim told the courts, “”There’s no violence in our family. That night in Boston we had both been drinking. I was not harmed that night. I was not injured.”

3. That the Phillies actually let him pitch the day after he was arrested

4. That Brett’s comment after his arrest was, “I’m sorry it had to go public. That’s it. Of course, it’s embarrassing.” (Because, you know, it’s perfectly fine when it’s in private and you’re not surrounded by pesky reporters trying to humiliate you.)

5. That Brett and Kim Myers have two young children who are going to have to continue to grow up in a home where their dad hits their mom

I know that it’s easy to say from the outside looking in that domestic violence is unforgivable and that violent partners should get no second chances. But the truth is, people often see only what they want to see in their significant others. We overlook incompatibilities that could destroy our relationships. We tell ourselves that just because he says he doesn’t want a girlfriend doesn’t mean we can’t be the exception. We rationalize that we must have done something that led to him sleeping with that other woman—it can’t be entirely his fault.

I realize that none of these things are equivalent with spousal abuse, but think of it this way: if we keep raising our tolerance level within relationships, how long is it before we’re claiming we walked into a door again? If we can justify someone battering our feelings, how is tolerating physical abuse any different?

I’m not too familiar with the Phillies, so I don’t know how popular a player Myers was before this incident, but I sincerely hope that his fans no longer support him. I love the Red Sox (and I love the fact that Gabe Kapler and his wife, who was a victim of dating violence in a previous relationship, work to raise awareness of the dangers of domestic abuse), but I know that if I found out that one of the Sox was beating his wife, I’d hate him. I wouldn’t care if he could break the home run record or win the Cy Young Award. As a fan, I deserve better. Fans deserve players they can admire for playing well and for conducting themselves professionally on and off the field.

But I can’t get out of my head the image I saw on the news of Kim Myers leaving the courtroom. She was wearing a white pinstriped suit and looking straight ahead, her posture stiff as a board. I think she was aiming to look strong and dignified, but all I could think of was how tiny she looked next to her husband, a former amateur boxer who, according to his bio, is six-foot-four and 234 pounds.

And it’s scary to think that Kim Myers is just one of millions of women who stay with abusers. What do they think they deserve?

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