“Wow, you’re alive?” Wheeler remarked to his victim when she regained consciousness.
Image credit via HollywoodUnlocked.com
In North America, more than 40% of Black women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Black women are also 2.5 times more likely to be murdered by men than White women.
Within a topic where there is already little support due to gender inequality and patriarchal ideals, Black women, in particular, are at an even greater risk of being victimized by crimes such as domestic violence.
Chad Wheeler, an NFL player for the Seattle Seahawks, was arrested on Friday, January 22ndon suspicion of felony domestic violence after the brutal beating of his girlfriend.
Court documents state that the victim was assaulted in her bedroom at her home. Wheeler threw her onto the bed and then strangled her and beat her until she went unconscious.
When the victim regained consciousness, she states that the first thing she remembered hearing from Wheeler was,
“Wow, you’re alive?”
Her statement indicated that after strangling her around the neck with both hands, Wheeler returned to his smoothie that he had been eating beforehand.
It was at this time that the victim fled to a bathroom, locked herself in, and texted and called friends, family, and Chad Wheeler’s own father, for help.
When police arrived at the home, they broke down the door upon hearing the victim's screams from inside. Police officers attempted to tase Wheeler “with little effect", and he was eventually brought into custody.
It’s worth noting that Chad Wheeler is 6’7 and over 300 lb of mostly muscle. His victim is 5’9 and just 145 lb.
Several days following the arrest and charges, the Seattle Seahawks fired Wheeler from the team in response to the accusations. He is due to be in court on February 9th to put in his plea.
“Wow, you’re alive?”
This story is already made up of more nightmares than most of us can imagine.
Nothing quite equates to that moment when you look at a romantic partner who is attempting to physically harm you, and you realize you’re looking in the face of a monster.
I remember the terror I felt when I looked up at my first boyfriend and realized I was looking into the face of a man who didn’t care about my consent, and was going to do everything he could to steal my virginity away from me so that he could claim it for himself.
I can only imagine the extent of horror and terror Wheeler’s victim felt while her boyfriend had both of his hands locked around her neck and was strangling her with the intent to kill.
We can state this, that there was an intent to kill, because when the victim awoke, the assailant looked at her and stated his surprise at how she was not dead.
To add to how disturbing that was, Wheeler then returned to his meal he was consuming before trying to strangle his girlfriend to death. He sat there and continued to eat his meal next to what he thought was the lifeless body of the woman he’d tried to murder.
This is a whole other level of demented, sick, and psychopathic.
Wheeler did not panic, Wheeler did not attempt to revive his victim, Wheeler did not freak out in any way. Instead, he returned to his meal, the attempted murder of his girlfriend only a minor inconvenience to his evening.
To say that this scenario is enraging is the understatement of the century.
We live in a world that sees Black women as dispensable.
It’s simply true.
Black women have been saying this exact thing for generations, and it’s something that society conveniently continues to ignore because as a whole we are uncomfortable talking about race.
But the numbers don’t lie, nor to the experiences of the Black women who have been victimized so heavily in contrast to other women.
As stated above, in domestic violence cases, Black women are far more likely to be victims of DV and intimate partner murder.
This is not okay. This is not right. We should be far more enraged by this as a society.
When I heard about the story, of Chad Wheeler attempting to murder his Black girlfriend, I was shocked to see that the event took place a week ago, and it was the first I’d seen of it on social media, on the news, or anything at all.
The story only seemed to really go big in the media when Chad wheeler was officially released from the Seattle Seahawks team.
In fact, I had extreme difficulty finding any articles that reported on the incident before the Seahawks released him 2 days ago.
So that means that there were four to five days of minimal, barely-any reporting on the incident of this brutal beating.
The story only really hit headlines when the famous White NFL player was released from his sports team, not when he almost murdered his black girlfriend.
I cannot put into words how incredibly shameful, disappointing and disgusting that is.
If it had been a Black NFL player who attempted to kill and strangle his White girlfriend, within minutes of the story becoming known it would have been all over the media, blasted all over our social media, and society would be in an absolute uproar.
But instead, I only saw a few lazy little mentions of this incident, and all having taken place after Chad Wheeler was released from his sports team.
Not when he was arrested the night of the assault. Not when he was charged with felony domestic assault. Not when he got out on $400,000 bail and was able to go back home again.
No. An avid feminist and activist like me who scrolls through the news on a daily basis looking to be updated on world events (particularly related to gender equality and sexual assault) only heard about the attempted murder of a Black woman by her boyfriend when he was released from his sports team.
What in the actual f*ck is that?
Women deserve more than a passing mention.
Especially Black women, because these issues are hitting them even harder than anyone else.
Our twisted world is so fixated on celebrating and championing sports athletes, people in positions of power, and especially White, rich celebrities, that those people losing their jobs because of the abhorrent actions they have committed is more newsworthy and receives more media coverage than the attempted murder of a woman.
Even less media coverage and attention when that woman is Black.
Since the pandemic began, domestic violence has been increasing in terrifying numbers as victims remain in high-pressure captive situations with their assailants.
Not only did Wheeler try to murder his girlfriend, but as she was bruised and beaten attempting to get help, he refused to let her have access to help. This is why one of his charges is ‘unlawful imprisonment’ of his victim. She had to scream bloody murder until the police arrived. Had they not arrived, he likely would have succeeded in killing her.
But just like OJ, who would have cared anyway? He was a successful NFL player, he made lots of money, and he had lots of fans.
So who even gives a f*ck if he tried to kill a woman? Women’s lives aren’t all that important anyway, at least not compared to the fame, glory and success of a White, national sports player.
As a woman who is a survivor of sexual assault, I already know what it’s like to be a statistic.
I can tell you that it’s a really crappy feeling. It’s total shit to have the most traumatic and violating event of your life be categorized down into a number with no story and no face.
That said, I still have it easier than my sisters of colour. As a White woman, if I were to report my attacker, I would more likely be believed than a fellow survivor who is a Black woman.
We are failing each other as human beings when we allow for victims to be left behind, forgotten, and written off as simply a statistic.
Until we start taking this imbalance of rights seriously, and are working towards achieving better representation for all women, and better opportunities for all women, we are failing our sisters in the fight for gender equality.
We can’t just let this keep happening.
We can’t let women, and especially women of colour, keep falling through the cracks as if they are nothing.
We owe so much more to each other than valuing the career of a sports player over the literal life of another human being.
My only hope is that one day we can all unanimously come together and say,
“Not this time. Not our women. Not anyone, ever again.”
And while a future like that may seem unlikely, or in the far, far distant future, it is that future and vision that I as a feminist am fighting for.
It is that vision and future that I will continue fighting for until my dying breath.
Because women deserve more. Black women deserve more. And this is just beyond unacceptable.
So please, keep fighting for that better future. Because we deserve it. We all have a right to it. We are all worthy and valuable.
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