A few days ago Addison Russell‘s ex-wife, Melisa, publicly detailed her harrowing account of abuse — both physical and verbal. It is a difficult and tragic read — and necessary for Cubs fans in order to fully absorb the gravity of this situation.
You may recall that these allegations surfaced last season, ultimately yielding no justice. When Melisa first went public on Instagram concerning Addison’s infidelity, her friend commented that there was also physical abuse in their relationship. While those comments have since been deleted, and while neither Melisa nor her friend were willing to speak with MLB (or authorities) concerning the allegations, there was an investigation by MLB. That investigation was never officially closed. And now it’s time to blow that door wide open.
Stand in solidarity with Melisa
There is no room for criticism of Melisa. The timeline in which she shares her story is hers to determine, and we should applaud her bravery for doing so now. Detailing one’s suffering in a public manner is impossibly difficult, and deriding her for waiting until she was ready is not only immoral, it lends sensitivity to her abuser. And given the reality that physical abuse and sexual assault have been in the forefront of the public eye, with folks bending over backwards to defend and support abusers, it’s no wonder it took time for Melisa to share her suffering.
Bear in mind that women stand nothing to gain from publicly denouncing their abusers. A cursory glance in the news concludes as much. Melisa standing up for herself will create the unintentional consequence of abuse, trolling, and intimidation — all of which is shameful. Her strength is to be admired, her story another reason for all of us to stand against domestic abuse.
Abuse has been the norm in our country and culture, prolifically so in the world of professional sports. While MLB has taken steps to address this issue, they need to do more. Suspensions and fines are merely a slap on the wrist, teaching men that so long as they produce on the field their actions off of it are ancillary and irrelevant.
How should the Cubs respond?
Since the day these allegations surfaced I dismissed Addison Russell. I hated that he was on this team, but I also understood that without cooperation from Melisa and her friend there was little the Cubs or MLB could do.
Clearly, this has changed. The organization has an obligation to promote justice, to stand in solidarity with those that have suffered at the hands of their employers. A suspension should be the immediate cause of action, with a thorough investigation to conclude before they officially release him. They should spare no expense in supporting Melisa, they should donate to organizations that actively support women like her, and they should publicly denounce Addison Russell.
This isn’t an overreaction, and it’s not a holier-than-thou assessment. This is the baseline of what decency is. Tolerance for abuse — or mitigation thereof — is inexcusable. The Cubs have no options: the only correct path is to indefinitely suspend Russell, the ultimate goal a sincere desire for justice. For a team that has openly stated its dedication to character, there is no room for error.
Whether or not Melisa decides to cooperate with the Cubs, MLB, or the authorities is her decision, and hers alone. Men, especially, have zero authority to criticize her, and we have an obligation to defend her while actively combating all forms of abuse any where we see it.
It doesn’t matter if Russell was performing at his 2016 level. Hell, it wouldn’t matter if he was the second coming of Ozzie Smith. He’s an abuser, and he doesn’t belong in a Cubs uniform. I only hope the organization responds appropriately.
Follow Austin Bloomberg on Twitter–Feature Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports
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