How the NFL and the Military Compare on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Last week, we brought you an interview on the unexpected intersections of the NFL, the U.S. military, brain injuries, and psychological trauma.

Here’s something else the NFL and the U.S. armed services have in common: a history of problems handling domestic abuse and sexual assault in their ranks.

The NFL has faced a lot of fall-out surrounding its lackluster handling of the Ray Rice scandal. Even now, after airing a well-received anti-domestic violence PSA during the Super Bowl, some folks in the know are questioning if the league actually even has a program against domestic violence.

Likewise, domestic abuse is an issue in the military. One author found that combat veterans commit 21 percent of domestic violence nationwide.

Of all kinds of abuse, it’s sexual assault that has been in the spotlight recently. “It’s widespread in our society. It’s particularly offensive in the military community because the military ethos is one of honor and trust,” President Barack Obama’s nominee for U.S. defense secretary, Ashton Carter, told the Senate Armed Services Committee this week. The sheer number of sexual assaults in the military and the personal stories behind them are staggering.

Here are some more stats and comparisons.


“The Rate of Domestic Violence Arrests Among NFL Players” –

Crime in the United States 2013, Violent Crime, Table 7 – FBI

Crime in the United States 2013, Arrests, Table 42 – FBI

“The Facts on the Military and Violence Against Women” – Futures Without Violence

Statistics – RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

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