Riva Scher is an author, blogger and half of the team behind the greeting card company Yenta Sentiments.
Recently, while watching the HBO Monthly episode of RealSports, it hit me like the proverbial “ton of bricks.” An aspect of domestic abuse that is often acknowledged, but rarely focused on. Former major league pitcher, Rick Ankiel came out to the media fifteen years after his once soaring career ended when he literally forgot how to pitch…in the middle of a playoff game! The not-so-rare condition actually has a name: “yips.” What, you may be wondering, could this have to do with domestic abuse? In the case of Rick Ankiel, it might have everything to do with it. No one knows the cause of Yips, it might be psychological or physical. It could be neurological or it could be an emotional reaction to experiences in ones past.
Yips or the yips is the loss of fine motor skills in athletes. The condition occurs suddenly and without apparent explanation usually in mature athletes with years of experience. It is poorly understood and has no known treatment or therapy. Athletes affected by the yips sometimes recover their ability, which may require a change in technique. Many are forced to abandon their sport at the highest level.
Rick Ankiel buried himself in baseball as a small boy to distract himself from witnessing or having to listen to the beatings that his alcoholic and drug addicted father perpetrated on his mother. On the face of it, merely being a witness to such brutality could be enough to permanently alter ones reality. But as the program ended, almost as an afterthought, Rick stated that he has never gotten over the memories of his mother screaming and yelling “help” in the other room…and wishing that he had done something, even if it was just hitting his father with his baseball bat.
Domestic abuse is hideous enough if we are simply looking at the victim. But, unfortunately, it’s much more far reaching. This scourge leaves its scars on as many aspects of a life or lives as there are. Like tentacles, reaching out for and potentially destroying psyches, and health in general, schooling, jobs, careers, marriages, and friendships.
And as I watched Rick Ankiel lament his early life and become willing to strip away the denial that had exacted a chunk of his one-time existence. It became crystal clear that not only can domestic abuse claim the past…it can and often does steal the future as well. It is as pervasive a problem as we have in our society.
Many of us, including those of us who are fortunate enough to have never experienced this particular brand of pain in our lives, can benefit from the torrents of information becoming more and more accessible today in the various media outlets available today.