By Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
The NFL is entering into a long-term partnership to provide financial, operational and promotional support to two of the country’s leading services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, according to a memo obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
In the two-page memo, which was distributed Thursday to the league’s 32 teams, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell writes that starting this season “we will dedicate significant resources to raise awareness on the subjects of domestic violence and sexual assault, including support for victims.”
In the wake of a video showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious, Goodell and the league have been sharply criticized for their lenient handling of players involved in incidents of domestic violence. The issue has been the dominant topic the first three weeks of the season.
“It was brought to our attention that recent events caused The National Domestic Violence Hotline to receive 84 percent more calls during the week of September 8-15,” Goodell wrote in the memo. “According to the organization, more than 50 percent of those calls went unanswered due to lack of staff. That must not continue.”
Goodell said the league will enter into long-term partnerships with the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. He said the Hotline will add 25 full-time advocates during the next five weeks, enabling it to handle an additional 750 calls per day.
The league will also provide support to enable Loveisrespect, a project of the Hotline and Break the Cycle, to service 24-hours-per-day text chats with young adults affected by dating abuse.
In addition, Goodell wrote, the league will implement broad educational programs within its ranks.
“Starting within the next 30 days, all league and team personnel — including executives, coaches, players and staff — will participate in education sessions on domestic violence and sexual assault,” he wrote. “These initial sessions will begin to provide the men and women of the NFL with information and tools to understand and recognize domestic violence and sexual assault. We will work with the NFL Players Association to develop and present this training in the most effective way.”
Wrote Goodell: “These are by no means final steps. We will continue to work with experts to expand and develop long-term programs that raise awareness, educate, and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault both within the NFL and in our society in general.”