Domestic Violence and Zero Tolerance: Is It Better Protection

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Domestic Violence on Monday, September 15, 2014.

The NFL has a “zero tolerance” policy for divorce. Will this increase reporting of violence or decrease it?

I’ve written on domestic violence issues before. The NFL’s new zero tolerance policy for domestic violence makes good commercial sense for the NFL. But what about football players’ wives?

If they call the police, and their football star husband is prosecuted, that likely means a loss of millions of dollars to the wife when they are suspended. A battered wife calls the police, and their husband is out of a job, can’t pay the mortgage, and the wife and their children are headed for the poor house.

The Ray Rice case is a good example of the problem. Because the Ravens terminated his contract, they no longer owe him a $3.529 million nonguaranteed salary for this year. Rice had remaining nonguaranteed base salaries of $3 million in 2015 and 2016 that have now been eliminated.

The Ravens don’t owe him any more money. In any other job and you get arrested for domestic violence, and you could get fired. In the NFL though, you could get blackballed.

Previously, an abused woman might be willing to expose abuse to obtain protection against domestic violence. But what if every time a spouse reported domestic violence it meant the loss of their husband’s career?

The husband’s job loss would mean that the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage would be over. And worse still, the husband would be unable to pay child support, or keep the wife and the children in the family home, or have the ability to pay alimony.

This policy places abused women in a difficult choice: don’t report abuse and continue to enjoy a wealthy lifestyle, or report abuse and suffer a dramatic financial loss.

There is a likelihood that some women may not be willing to make that choice, and won’t call the police or tell their attorney out of a fear that it will leak out.

Alternatively, a battered woman may not want to say anything when the abuse first starts. By the time they do call the police, the abuse has become so bad that they’d be willing to ruin their own financial success for protection it may be too late.

What if the zero tolerance policy makes abused wives unwilling to report initial or less severe abuse, out of a well-founded fear of losing their financial standing, until the abuse becomes so bad, they risk their very lives?

The Volokh Conspiracy post is here.