My recent visit to the National Domestic Violence Hotline reinforced that ending domestic violence should be a personal priority for everyone. The stories of real people in painful real-life situations further underscore the dire need to plead the cause of victims, empower them and provide them with lifesaving tools, safety planning and most importantly, hope. We need advocates who connect with victims and help them take action, find safety and live without abuse.
Family members, faith leaders, educators and advocates, corporations and government–we all have a role to play and a responsibility to speak boldly to end domestic violence.
Domestic violence was a way of life in my home. As boys, my brother and I watched helplessly and in pain as our mother struggled to find her voice, seek help and have the courage to say “no more.” As a result, the fear, the powerlessness and all the complexities that accompany that kind of violence are as real for me today as when I was a child. They are always with me.
As a husband, father, mentor and friend, my lifelong conviction is to set an example and help others never experience this horror. There are many teachable moments with my children where we talk openly about the impact of domestic violence. My wife and I look for opportunities to challenge our children, stressing that there is never an excuse for violence and teaching them to find their voice on this issue.
As a former athlete, I have chosen to share my story and taken every opportunity to bring attention to this important issue and help drive change — in the locker room and the community.
As an executive, I continue to advocate for programs and resources to care for victims, educate players, and support family members around the issue of domestic violence. The NFL’s mandatory domestic violence and sexual assault education assists players and staff in building healthy relationships. It teaches us to identify off-field challenges that might lead to abuse and gives us skills to help prevent and end domestic violence and sexual assault.
The NFL Life Line provides current and former players, family members and team and league staff with a secure, confidential and independent resource for any personal or emotional crisis.
Our Player Engagement programs and NFL Legends Community are building a national network of former players trained to support players and their families, during their playing experience and after they transition away from the game.
Our Personal Conduct Policy — developed with more than 100 domestic violence and sexual assault experts, advocates and survivors, law enforcement officials, academic experts, business leaders, current and former players and the players’ union — establishes clear standards that apply to all NFL personnel.
We must talk openly about domestic violence and teach our children how to build healthy relationships. We must raise awareness and remove the shame and stigma that prevent victims from seeking help. We must support organizations like the National Domestic Violence Hotline that help make sure everyone who needs assistance can get it.
There is still much more work to be done. My faith has helped me end the cycle of domestic violence in my family, and it’s what sustains my work to end domestic violence. We must make our voices heard and turn our words into actions.
Troy Vincent Sr. played in the National Football League for fifteen years for the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, and Washington Redskins. From 2004-2008, he served as President of the NFL Players’ Association. He is currently the NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations.