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The NFL Has Become an Unlikely Partner in the Fight Against Sexual Violence

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As hard-working twenty-something women we should be able to, from time to time, close our books, let our hair down from our topknots, and de-stress with an alcoholic beverage in our hand. Whether it’s happy hour with the new guy we’re seeing or downing $6 vodka Redbulls with our sorority sisters, our only concerns should be whether we have food stuck in between our teeth or how we can avoid face-planting in our hard-to-walk-in but super cute new stilettos. 

The unfortunate reality is that we have to concern ourselves with one more thing on top of everything else we are trying to juggle—how to avoid becoming a victim of sexual violence. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one-in-five women will be sexually assaulted while in college and one-in-five women will be raped in their lifetime. And while we've all been told to use the buddy system and never to leave our drinks unattended, the truth is that not enough is being done on a larger scale to educate and prevent against sexual violence. 

“There’s very little prevention money for the violence against women services community,” Dawn Dalton, executive director of Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment & Appeals Project told the Huffington Post.

In a Hail Mary play, the NFL has emerged as an unexpected partner in the fight to end sexual violence, the Huffington Post reports. In June, the NFL donated $10 million to fund the Raliance initiative with the goal of ending sexual violence in one generation.

“I think the NFL has a role to play in this; we don’t expect and we don’t want to do things alone, but we want to make changes in society using the platform that we have,” Anna Isaacson, vice president of Social Responsibility at the NFL, told the Huffington Post.

To date, Raliance has spent $1.2 million and has partnered with 27 nonprofit organizations nationwide. These nonprofits are working on several different fronts to fight sexual assault—Some of the money is funding bystander intervention programs in bars, while other grants are going toward teaching middle and high school coaches how to talk to young athletes about sexual assault.

“We are lucky that we have this megaphone that we can use and get this message across,” Isaacson said. “We feel it’s our responsibility to use that platform for good.” 

Of course, the NFL doesn't have the best record on sexual violence and violence against women. There was serious backlash against the NFL in 2014, when a video emerged of then-Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice punching his fiance. Rice has not returned to football since that incident, but the same can't be said for many violent players. In December 2015, Broadly did an in-depth investigation of the 44 NFL players accused of sexual or physical assault, showing that several had been accused multiple times.

But maybe the league really is trying to address their blind spots and make a difference by donating this money. We'll drink to that.


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