LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The recent release of photographs showing an alleged assault by Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowler Greg Hardy has brought the topic of domestic violence the attention of many.
The pictures of the alleged assault were released by Deadspin on Friday. The images show bruises on a woman's back arms and feet. Authorities claim they belong to a woman with whom Hardy had a relationship with while he played for the Carolina Panthers. Hardy was given a four-game suspension by the National Football League for the alleged domestic violence incident. Hardy was found guilty by a North Carolina judge, but the charge was later dropped by an appeals court.
"We see photographs of that nature on a regular basis," said Family Crisis Center of East Texas Executive Director Heather Kartye. "I would say for your average individual that doesn't see that type of thing, it probably is pretty shocking."
The release of the images came a year after the NFL was dealing with the Ray Rice case. The former Baltimore Raven running back was caught on camera attacking his fiancee in a hotel elevator. Rice got an indefinite suspension but later had it thrown out. Rice has yet to be picked up by another team.
"Domestic violence knows no boundaries," Kartye said. "No matter how much you make or ethnicity or any other background. Anyone is supportable of being a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence."
The numbers don't lie; domestic violence cases are on the rise around America. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 12 million cases of domestic violence against women and men occurred in 2014. The state of Texas Council on Family violence reported 185,817 cases in 2014. Kartye said her office sees an estimated 1,200 cases a year in the nine counties they cover. Keisha Morris with the East Texas Crisis Center said their Smith County office saw 453 adult victims and 230 child victims last year.
Kartye said she hopes the Hardy and Rice case helps victims step forward.
"I'm hopeful that the publicity surrounding this event will encourage others that have been victims to seek out help," Kartye said.