Defining The Line Between Discipline & Abuse


Fifty-six was the amount of time that I was able to stomach the altercation that transpired between Ray Rice and his fiancé, Janay. As I sat and watched the video on TMZ, I wasn’t shocked that another story of domestic abuse made the news.

In just twenty-seven seconds, Ray rendered her unconscious as he delivered one swift, left hook, punch to her face. She collapsed against the elevator rail and slid down to the floor. She didn’t move.

I should have stopped watching then, but I didn’t.

I continued to watch.

He pulled her lifeless body across the elevator and towards the door, with one shoe missing and her feet dragging behind her. Then, he dropped her face-first on the floor with a thud. I stopped watching. I was enraged!

I was angry for every victim across the nation who has seen the hand of abuse. I was angry at TMZ for exploiting the video. I was angry at Janay Rice for marrying him a month later on March 28. I was angry that she publicly lashed out towards his team and the media via Instagram, and sent the message to every child in the world that violence and abuse are “what true love is.”


Four is the age of Adrian Peterson’s son, whose body has been at the receiving end of a tree limb, a hand, and a belt, in just the four short years that he’s been alive.

I should have known better than to go researching the latest and hottest NFL trending topic on Twitter, but still, I began scrolling.

Tears filled my eyes before I even started typing. My heart was racing with anger. I knew not to read too many articles and to know when enough was enough. I was prepared, this time, I thought.

I continued to read and I continued to watch.

When I came across a few short lines, among millions of words, that left me fuming and speechless with fury, I wasn’t surprised. As he spoke with police, Peterson’s son said,

Daddy Peterson hit me on my face. There are a lot of belts in Daddy’s closet.

Then, he explains to his mother that Peterson “liked switches and belts” and has a “whipping room.”

I was enraged.

Yesterday, my daughter slipped and fell on the bathroom floor. Today, I am still upset at myself for not being more proactive in protecting her. That’s my job as her mom.

I cannot fathom disciplining my child in such a way that bruises, welts, and cuts, are left on her body. I would never intentionally inflict pain upon her at all.

To Adrian Peterson, though, that’s just the way of life. 

So, the NFL waited a day to announce their commencement with former White House official, Cynthia C. Hogan, until one day after Peterson delivered his preapproved and professionally articulated statement.

A strategic move in keeping a lid on the latest domestic violence hype and Charles Barkley helped defend a culture of abuse claiming,

Whipping — we do that all the time!

Making sure to allude that it’s not a big deal, but it is. 

5.3 Million

The average number of men, women, and children, who will remain or become victims of abuse or neglect by the end of this year is 5.3 million.

According to the US Department of Justice, 1,300,000 women and 835,000 men become victims of physical assault at the hands of their own lovers annually. Black women suffering at a rate of 35 percent higher than white women.

An estimated 686,000 children, in 2012, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, had newly confirmed counts of neglect or abuse — 80 percent of them at the hands of their own mothers or fathers.

Approximately 3 million reports are made annually, which include more than 6 million children.

But we all just continue to watch.

Meanwhile, CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman, an “expert” defines the line between discipline and abuse as a gray blur?!

We blame our upbringing and culture while pointing our fingers at the NFL and the law for what our own hands are doing.

There is a line.

If you are disciplining your child, you are reinforcing positive behaviors and instilling respect. When you cross the line of abuse, you’re not only hurting your children, you are teaching them that it is acceptable and natural to hurt other people.

All states’ laws permit the use of ‘reasonable’ corporal punishment; simultaneously, they all prohibit nonaccidentally inflicted serious injury. —Doriane Lambelet Coleman et al.

If hitting our children results in a culture of violence and long-term disorders due to trauma (e.g. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, racing thoughts, severe anxiety, aggressiveness, relationship issues, suicidal ideation, etc.), those are serious injuries.

If you took your fist and you punched it into the wall would it hurt you? Would you feel it? Yes. If you take a tree limb, belt or wooden spoon, and hit the wall as hard as you could would it hurt you? Would you feel it? No.

When your hands are hurting your child is bleeding and bruised— that is abuse.

That is the line.

As a parent, you draw the line and you do not cross it because you love and do not want to hurt your child.


One famous NFL player had to have a video go viral to get our attention. One is the number of people it takes to speak out and bring attention to important causes.

One is the age of my only daughter and the number of times I held her in my arms before I knew that I would fight to no end to protect her beyond measure for the rest of my life.

There is something to be said of our nation when more than 5 million of our own citizens are being abused and neglected, and we do nothing to rise together and change it.

That is until it’s the beginning of the football season and our favorite players start missing from the field.

An Open Letter to The President: The Victims of 9/11 Deserved Better

Dear Mr. President,

There’s no need for a formal introduction here. I’m just small town girl from the boondocks. I know better than to think my opinion matters to you.

I need no response, just a moment of your time, if you’ll please.

September. 11th. 2001. (I wanted to make sure to remind you of this date just in case you had forgotten. It seems like you have, no offense.)

September. 11th. 2014

When I woke that morning, I expected the media to be flooded with stories about the tragedy that happened in our nation thirteen years ago that very day. You remember what that was, right?

If not, allow me to remind you. That is the day terrorist attacks came against New York City and Washington D.C. claiming the lives of almost 3,000 people and forever changing the lives of thousands of others, if not even the heart of this very nation that you serve.

I really thought that someone like you would remember, Mr. President, sir. But I guess you must have forgotten.

. . . Now that we’re on the same page, allow me to continue . . .

As I started my morning with a cup of coffee and the giggles of my 1-year-old daughter, I made a point to avoid the social network sites or glance at the latest news right away. I knew today would be a heavy day for America as we honored the lives stolen by terrorism, as well as the lives lost in the war that followed. I had hoped that it would be a day of remembrance for you, too.

I expected moments of silence to be conducted, trending hashtags and stories marked “9/11” and “We remember!” and we’ll “Never forget!” Or any other combinations of the sort to flood my screen. I wasn’t eager to log in that morning at all, but I did.

September 11, 2014.

I clicked on “top” to get the latest Google News list, 100% prepared for what I might see—or so I thought. When I clicked, I was surprised to find that the latest hot topic was you.

I read the transcript of the speech you gave the night before. I’m sorry I missed it. I was certain that you would speak of September. 11th. and have something inspirational to say as the leader of the United States of America. Your words were candid, moderately passionate and not overdone. I can tell you must have been meticulous in choosing just the right ones so that we could hear exactly what you needed us to hear. After all, you’re just keeping America safe and calm, right?

Maybe that is why

On the eve of the 13th anniversary of 9/11, you addressed us with this:

Tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

Maybe that is why

On the eve of the 13th anniversary of 9/11 you could only reference our tragedy twice throughout your entire narrative; not even in a manner of reverence to the lives that were lost. In fact, you didn’t mention them at all.

We can’t erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today.

I’m sure the families of the victims appreciated that passive reference of the date, and felt comforted and confident in the message you gave as your readied your pen to sign off on war, once again. Or maybe they felt comforted when you mentioned America’s tragedy one last time and said:

Tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked.

Now, from here, Mr. President, I would hope that I could be as direct and frank with you as you were with our nation that night. So please bear with me in my passionate response.

What the hell were you thinking?

I know

It was rolled out in a pretty package. It was articulated just right. You were careful in your approach. Calm, cool and collected, in reassuring us that the market is stronger. We’re ready and prepared. Blah, blah. You were just warning investors. Blah, blah, blah, again. We all know.

Just one thought

I couldn’t help but wonder why on the night before the anniversary of one of the biggest tragedies this nation has ever seen, you decided what?

“Hey, pull up the cameras let me talk about another country. Let me discuss suffering, rape, the death of children, the Syrian people in danger, and why we will not back down. Let me steal the attention away from the thousands of people across the world who were victims, volunteers, children, friends and families, that DESERVE THIS DAY OF REMEMBRANCE. Let me talk about war, yet again, as our nation begins to grieve its loss for the 13th year.”  ???

Really? This is an immediate physical threat to your “fellow Americans” and there was definitely no other way to warn investors, right? Oh if we only had technology and more methods of communication available!

Of course, national TV was the only viable option. You were forced! I understand. It wasn’t to make your passive, yet clear, threat to ISIL heard.

We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL.

No, that couldn’t be it. Moving on.

Could you have not waited until later in the evening to address us? You couldn’t wait until our moments of silence had passed the morning of our grieving? We couldn’t honor an hour of September 11th before you announced that 140,000 more members of our families are needed for war?

It’s okay. We’ll save another country and you just run your citizens’ tears in the dirt as you march off to battle with their sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. No big deal.

“Already issued 150 airstrikes.”  Right? What’s one more? After all, America is being threatened, yes? Our people are at risk? What is the emergent threat against our nation, exactly? Oh, that’s right. You didn’t specify.

Are they marching towards America with guns? Standing on the frontline somewhere with weapons and waving flags, fueling the jets? No. But Syrian people, who were mentioned several times throughout your speech as our people were forgotten, they are in danger. Let’s save them. Don’t misunderstand me, I wish we could save the world. Let’s save them! My concern is with you.

Out of all that you said as you stood before us that evening, Mr. President, sir, do you not think we deserved more than two brief, emotionless, mentions of the date?

I’m disappointed, offended, and shocked, Mr. President.
You showed America no honor.

One last thing

Can we quit calling war, violence, and death, an anti-terrorism campaign? A campaign is how you got into office!

WAR is why our soldiers have fallen! WAR is why they are forced to raise their guns! WAR is why our sons and daughters don’t come home!

That deserves a little more than a shrug and a wink.

Don’t you think? But, what do I know—I’m just a girl.


 One of the people.

© 2014 Uncommon Graces

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