Violence in Tennis

By Vicki McFee – BaptistCare Relationships Services 

In her book “Unbreakable” tennis player Jelena Dokic revealed the terrible abuse she suffered, at the hands of her father. When I heard her interviewed, I remembered the uneasy feelings I had when she was playing. Something was drastically wrong with the relationship between Jelena and her father.

How could this happen. It’s not like she was hidden in a private home. Jelena was playing in tournaments, staying in hotels and under constant scrutiny by the media. Didn’t someone hear him yelling at her, see her bruises or witness her crying. Is the excuse, ‘surely someone official or closer to the situation will do something’, acceptable?

Jesus saw a society that had become complacent about the plight of others, who had chosen etiquette and rules over compassion for those in need. He sought to change public opinion. His kind of compassion meant action in words and in deeds. Jesus rarely just gave a yes or no answer or told us how to behave. He asked questions and gave us parables and stories like the supposed decent citizens who walked past the beaten Samaritan. Jesus made people search deep into their hearts and discover what is truly valued by God, “Loving thy neighbour.” Are there people out there, good decent people who knew something about Jelena and did nothing?

There are many Jelena’s out there, but can we see them through the eyes of Jesus, they are our neighbours, they need our help. Domestic and Family Violence invaded a sport we Australians love. We watched this young girl play not knowing what it cost her. Can we all now say, “no more, not on our watch.” When it comes to abuse in families, doing nothing says exactly that, “nothing.” And if no one says anything, what message does that give the perpetrators of the abuse? Doing nothing is not an option. So if you have suspicions, if something is not right. Ask questions, either of the person who you are worried about or someone who knows more than you. Write a letter; connect with an organization or social media group that speaks out against violence or attend a bystander intervention workshop. Do Something.

Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’