'Knockout Game' Victim Was Actually A Domestic Violence Victim

You’ve probably heard of “knockout,” a rumored game wherein teenagers attack random bystanders for kicks. There’s been a lot of debate as to whether it’s actually a legitimate trend, or simply a couple of isolated incidents lumped together with garden-variety assault cases. Skeptics received some evidence to support their case on Monday, as a woman who previously claimed to be a victim of the “game” admitted that in fact, it was her boyfriend who’d punched her in the face, and she was just covering for him. Now, 23-year-old Ashley DePew and her 25-year-old partner, Justin Simms, face misdemeanor charges for falsifying a police report.

A lot of the controversy surrounding the knockout game stems from the fact that usually, the alleged perpetrators are black youths. This perpetuates about a million racist stereotypes, and when segments of the media highlight a couple of questionable cases and suggest they’re indicative of a national trend, it looks suspiciously more like race-baiting than anything else. That’s bad enough, but this most recent case introduces another depressing element to the controversy: The underreporting of domestic violence.

Domestic assault victims often don’t press charges against their attackers, be it due to fear of retaliation, shame, traumatic bonding, financial limitations, or any number of other reasons. As a result, domestic abuse is consistently underreported, with DePew’s case being an sad illustration of this. However, because DePew blamed her attack on the knockout game — and because certain elements in the media have blamed knockout almost exclusively on black teens — a whole lot of people may have read about what was in fact a domestic violence case and assumed, instead, that it was the work of unruly black youth.

There are two caveats. First of all, DePew didn’t specifically say that her assailants were black. Secondly, both DePew and Simms claim that the assault was accidental. The story they ultimately settled on is that, during an argument, DePew tried to touch Simms’ hand, and he jerked it back violently, inadvertently hitting her in the eye. There’s no way of knowing whether that’s true; however, we will note that a) the couple collectively lied to protect Simms in the past, and b) Simms hit DePew so hard that she required reconstructive surgery.

It’s a depressing story no matter how you look at it, but it may bring attention to both the problem with how the knockout game is being reported and just how common it is for domestic violence to go unreported.