Lots of questions have surfaced recently as a result of the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident that occurred in February.  While developments will continue to unfold, one thing is clear: sweeping the issue of domestic violence under the rug is no longer an option for professional teams as the public increases its demand for accountability from both the teams and their players.  Hopefully, this will eventually lead to greater efforts on finding a solution to this problem, which in part has to do with how we define healthy partnerships and another huge part is tied to making smart economic choices.

When it comes to understanding healthy partnerships, 21st century families are definitely facing a major challenge as a result of the demise of the traditional family model.  Indeed, according to a recent Washington Post article, less than 23% of U.S. families still have one spouse working while the other stays at home full-time.  Added to this economic reality is the fact that family structures have become much more fluid over the last 50 years, making it imperative that educators and parents make more of a concerted effort to teach children good relationship/life coping skills early on in order to navigate the challenging family dynamics of our time.

There are several non-profits trying to tackle this issue, and Becky’s Fund, which is based in Washington, DC, is a prime example of an organization that not only promotes awareness of domestic violence, but also seeks to prevent it through educational seminars and outreach programs, particularly to minors and young adults.  Founder, Becky Lee, believes that these efforts are necessary because one of the main problems she sees today is a lack of understanding as to what is appropriate versus in appropriate behavior in the 21st century.

The other major problem, which I see on a regular basis as a divorce attorney, is that often people have allowed themselves to fall into an incredibly vulnerable economic position by (i) leaving the workforce, (ii) allowing his/her spouse to control all the finances and/or (iii) having no access to any credit or bank accounts . The sad reality that these economically dependent spouses face is that without the means to finance an exit plan and support themselves after initiating a separation, they find it extremely difficult to leave an abusive relationship.

It is easy to say “just get out” for those with an education and ability to support themselves, but it is not that simple for someone that has no income or resources of his/her own.  Unfortunately, over the years, I have seen many men and women put themselves in this precarious position, and it is very difficult to develop a viable exit plan without a tremendous sacrifice in a person’s quality of life, even if just on a short-term basis.  This is a particularly difficult choice to make if children are involved.

The fact is one in four women will experience some sort of abusive episode with a partner. Men are far less likely to report abuse, but they are also victims to this crime. Whether it is verbal or physical abuse, no one should have to live this way–especially children, and yet if we are truly going to make a difference we need to not just promote education about healthy relationships and anger management, but also make a concerted effort to teach financial literacy and ensure that everyone understands the importance of maintaining his/her own access to credit and financial resources.

For further information about Becky’s Fund, please visit www.beckysfund.org

Here is the link to the Youtube video with Becky Lee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7t5osA3kpPE