Only a few seconds are needed for an engaged WMMA fan to rattle off a list of fighters who have reportedly been assaulted by their partners. This hypothetical list likely covers a handful of women who fight at elite levels in the UFC. A bit of research will certainly reveal an extensive compilation of WMMA athletes all over the world who have been similarly victimized. Even then, numbers are probably the tip of the proverbial iceberg, as most people who suffer from domestic violence opt not to report the abuse.
Is intimate partner violence a prevalent issue in the world of combat sports? Probably not any more than it is a blemish on other communities. No matter where it takes place, a general understanding of abuse dynamics and a willingness to take appropriate action goes a long way toward combating the issue.
For instance, ending an abusive relationship isn’t a matter of simply leaving. In fact, ending an abusive relationship is the deadliest time for the victim – that’s when the abusive party realizes they are losing control. Instead of encouraging someone to just pack up and walk away, listen without judgment and provide him or her with the resources needed to separate safely.
What can people in the MMA world do to combat domestic violence? Fighters’ trainers and teammates typically know them better than anyone. These individuals can look not only for signs of abuse, but for signs of abusive behavior in their athletes. Managers and promoters can ensure that victims do not fight on the same cards as their abusers, and ensure that lodging and media events are secure during fight weeks. Better yet, they can opt not to sign known batterers at all.
And the fans? Fans can show some compassion. They can honor the people who step into the cage and fight with heart, talent, and determination – in spite of the abusive power and control they have overcome. Such demonstration of resilience is truly incredible, after all; there is arguably no greater victory.