Richard Sherman’s domestic violence arrest shines a light on mental health in the Black community

When I learned that NFL cornerback Richard Sherman was arrested following a domestic violence incident, I was afraid for his family. Then I was afraid for our people, because Sherman, who’s been a strong voice for Black justice, would lose credibility if he hurt those he claimed to love.


And in reality, you can’t speak for the community if you’re abusing your family. Domestic violence is serious, and those who engage in it should get help, get arrested, or get out, because abusing one another is not love. It is a crime, and should be treated as such.


Thankfully, no one was hurt in the incident involving Sherman, according to his wife. But video of the incident shows some scary moments, with Sherman violently trying to break down his in-laws’ door in the moments before he was arrested.


But this story is not just about violence. It is also about another problem we don’t talk about in our community—mental health. According to his wife, Sherman is undergoing mental health counseling, and prosecutors revealed in court that Sherman was also taking antidepressants. On the night of the incident, he drank alcohol and expressed suicidal thoughts, according to his wife.


That can’t be left out of this conversation. Because for many of us in the Black community, mental health is the underlying issue that triggers domestic violence. Richard Sherman, who was released on his own recognizance after the judge called him a pillar of his community, was walked away alive after his mental health episode. But Walter Wallace, a Black man whose mental health crisis led to domestic violence in Philly, was shot dead by police.


So yes, we must talk about domestic violence and the harm it causes. But if we’re going to deal with the roots of it, we must also talk about mental health.
Photo: Richard Sherman By. Suz

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