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Tiger’s big drive and why it matters

by Jim Longworth

For anyone who says Tiger Woods’ car crash is a victimless crime, and that what happened between him and his wife is none of our business, I have two words for you: Phil Hartman.

In 1988, the multi talented “Saturday Night Live” comedian was murdered by his wife, who then turned the gun on herself. The incident took two lives and orphaned two others.

We don’t know for certain if domestic violence was involved in the Woods case, but I don’t believe that Tiger’s wife Elin took a 9-iron to the windows of his Escalade because she wanted to extract him from the car. What we do know is that Tiger has had extramarital affairs, and that Elin wasn’t happy about it. Speculation is that Elin launched into a tirade about one of her husband’s mistresses, causing Tiger to flee the house barefoot at 2:30 a.m., get into his car and drive it into a fire hydrant and a tree. We’re also not clear about whether Elin chased Woods with the golf club, or if she had anything to do with the blood on his lip. Details are sketchy, but the circumstances and Tiger’s refusal to cooperate with police, indicate more than just a desire for privacy. The Woods’ marriage is clearly in crisis, and if any form of domestic violence was involved by or on either spouse, then it is anything but a private matter. Here’s why:

According to menweb.org, 1.5 million women and 835,000 men are victims of domestic violence each year. And while men abusers tend to inflict more physical damage, women abusers can be just as lethal. So much so, that, here in America, a man is battered by his spouse every 38 seconds, and that battery includes physical, mental and emotional abuse.

No doubt we have made great strides in dealing with domestic violence against women, as evidenced by the fact that more wives are coming forward to report such incidents. But we as a society have done nothing to encourage men to report similar abuses. That’s because laws are written mainly by men, and men don’t want to admit that they can be abused by a woman. Still, these domestic abuses occur and if left unreported may escalate into more serious crimes. It is undeniable, for example, that the single most dangerous call for a policeman to respond to is one involving domestic violence. Moreover, by ignoring or covering up such disputes, we are also putting another population at risk. According to the National Family Violence Legislative Resource Center, domestic abuse victimizes children of the marriage. Just witnessing violent arguments betweenparents can damage the children, and can shape their behavior for laterlife. And of course, when domestic violence escalates, children can behurt physically as well as emotionally.

Washington Post columnistKathleen Parker wrote, “[T]he notion that Woods owes America anexplanation is based only on the fact that he is a celebrity.”

Nothingcould be further from the truth. Any citizen, Woods included, shouldalways be forthcoming in these kinds of situations, if for no otherreason than to give the proper authorities an opportunity to assess notjust the incident itself, but how it might impact on the family goingforward.

I hopethat reports of Elin slapping or scratching Tiger are not true, andthat she didn’t smash his car window out of anger (although Lord knows,her response would have been understandable given Tiger’s propensityfor bedding other women). In any event, full disclosure withauthorities might have triggered court ordered therapy andanger-management classes, either of which might prevent future domesticdisturbances.

True enough, a heated argument between husband and wife can sometimes be healthy.

Butit can also be an indicator that violence is just around the corner.This time, Elin Wood might have reacted to Tiger’s cheating by yelling,scratching or swinging a golf club at a car window. But what happens ifTiger cheats again? No one is saying Elin Woods would snap, but if wewrite off last week’s incident as a private matter with noconsequences, we may be writing off a bigger problem, that of domesticviolence and the devastating effect it can have on families andcommunities. And I’m not just talking about Elin’s alleged violentreaction to her husband’s indiscretions. Earlier this year, Tigerreacted angrily at a bad shot, and flung his driver into the gallery,nearly striking a spectator. It wasn’t the first such incident and,thus far, the spoiled superstar has been lucky no one has beenseriously injured by his tantrums. In that regard, he is just ascapable of domestic violence as is a scorned wife.

Fornow, Tiger needs to keep his putter in his pants, apologize to his wifeand insist they attend marital counseling together. It’s time for themto either grow up or grow apart. I just hope they figure it out beforesomeone in the gallery really gets hurt.

JimLongworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Fridays at 6:30 a.m.on ABC 45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV (cablechannel 15).

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