Society Needs to Stop Victim Blaming, Even in Sports

One of the hottest topics in sports at the moment has been about De’Andre Johnson. The former Florida State Seminoles quarterback has been charged with misdemeanor battery after striking a young woman at a Tallahassee bar on June 24.

On Monday, the video of Johnson striking the woman was released to the public. Hours after the video was released, Johnson was dismissed from the football team.

If you watch the video, you can see that Johnson wasn’t the initial aggressor in this situation. It is hard to see everything that happened, but allegedly the woman kicked Johnson in the groin region and used racial slurs at him.

The woman then swung at Johnson and then the video clearly shows that he hit her in the face. According to the Tallahassee Police Department incident report, the woman, who is a student at Florida State, suffered bruises near her left eye and swelling of her left cheek and upper lip.

As you can imagine, some people had an opinion on the incident and some even decided to take Johnson’s side.

While both parties are at fault, that woman never deserved to be punched. In the field of domestic violence, that is called ‘victim blaming’.

The term victim blaming is when the victim is being held at fault for what happened in an abusive situation. When people victim blame, it allows the abuser (in this case Johnson) to execute the battery and assault while not assuming any accountability for their actions.

People that victim blame usually use terms like “she provoked him,” or “they were both drunk,” or “they deserved it.” No one deserves to be abused, even if they were provoked.

The woman was aggressive in the video, but Johnson had a choice in how he reacted to the situation. If he did not know the woman, he could have quickly walked away. Even if Johnson knew the woman, he could have walked away and waited to have a conversation after cooler heads prevailed.

Johnson’s attorney, Jose Baez said his client attempted to “de-escalate the situation,” but the woman “kneed him in the groin area” and “took another swing before he retaliated.” If this is true, Johnson had a choice to remove himself from that situation, but instead he struck the woman.

It doesn’t matter what the woman decided to call him, a much stronger Johnson hit the woman. The woman wasn’t threatening Johnson’s life, but he made a poor decision and now he has to live with the consequences of his actions.

Last year when Ray Rice punched his then fiancée Janay Palmer in the elevator and dragged her from an Atlantic City elevator, some people blamed Palmer for her actions in the incident. Apparently not much has changed from a year ago despite the initial reaction of outrage and horror to the Rice video.

Until society because more knowledgeable about domestic violence, there will still be those that ask ‘did the victim deserve it’. It starts with the police officers, judges and attorneys. Once they become more educated on domestic violence, others will likely follow as well.

No one is perfect, but no one should ever be assaulted. While we all have our moments when we show anger, it should never result in putting your hands on another human being. Even if drugs, alcohol are involved; that’s still isn’t an excuse.

Instead of asking what did the abuser do wrong to be hit, we should ask “what could have the attacker done differently to avoid hitting their victim.”

One in five women in college will be assaulted before they graduate. What if the woman Johnson hit was your sister or some family member of yours, would they deserve to be assaulted then?

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