How Many NFL Players Grew Up With Domestic Violence?

Photo by Parker Anderson

Photo by Parker Anderson


With domestic violence being a major focus at the National Football League (NFL) owners meeting on October 8, Brian F. Martin – founder of Children of Domestic Violence (CDV) and author of INVINCIBLE – shared his perspective on the issue and what the league must do moving forward in a recent interview with Marlo Thomas on Mondays with Marlo.

“The single best predictor of whether someone will be in a domestically violent relationship as an adult is whether or not they grew up living with it as a child. More than 50 percent of children who currently live in violent homes are raised by parents who grew up with domestic violence, as well. Therefore, the NFL must start at a root of this issue, by asking its players, “Did you grow up living with domestic violence?”

When asked in his interview on Mondays with Marlo about the recent video of Ray Rice – the running back for the Baltimore Ravens – assaulting his then-fiancé (now wife) in an elevator in March 2014, Martin begs the question of whether or not Ray and Janay Rice grew up living with domestic violence. Rice is currently serving an indefinite suspension by NFL for third-degree aggravated assault.

“The video was shocking because we don’t normally see acts of domestic violence, since it occurs in the home,” said Martin. “I was grateful their daughter didn’t see it.”

Growing up living with domestic violence negatively impacts a developing brain and the formation of the cognitive belief system. As these children grow up, they are six times more likely to commit suicide, 50 times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol and 74 times more likely to commit a violent crime.

There are currently 15 million children in the U.S. alone who are growing up in a home where domestic violence is present and 40 million American adults who experienced domestic violence during their childhood.

If a person grows up living with domestic violence, they experienced what is called Childhood Domestic Violence. Childhood Domestic Violence is defined as violence between parents, or violence towards a parent – perhaps from a stepparent or a significant other. The violence in these situations can be physical or non-physical, but the impact is just the same.

“The NFL isn’t addressing a root problem,” said Martin. “Whether it’s collegiate or whether it’s professional, the sports industry spends a lot of money making sure that its athletes are in their best physical shape.The League also needs to address where the players are psychologically, especially with respect to domestic violence. How are they not asking these young men who come in if they grew up living with domestic violence? Because growing up in one of these homes deeply impacts a life.”

UNICEF calls Childhood Domestic Violence “one of the most pervasive human rights issues of our time,” yet fewer than 5 percent of people are aware of this issue. Martin, who grew up living with domestic violence himself, founded Children of Domestic Violence (CDV) in 2007 to raise awareness about this epidemic in an effort to end domestic violence and its impact. CDV is the first non-profit organization dedicated to helping and connecting those who have experienced Childhood Domestic Violence so that they may reach their full potential and break the cycle of violence.

To watch Brian Martin’s full interview with Marlo Thomas on Mondays with Marlo, visit

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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