The XX Factor

NBA Player Earl Watson, Domestic Violence Victim?

Accusations against professional athletes for beating their wives have steadily accumulated over the years. A few examples: Dan Wilkinson of the Cincinatti Bengals, convicted of domestic violence for hitting his then-pregnant girlfriend. Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos, whose former girlfriend Rasheeda Watley went on ESPN bearing seven police reports and showing stitches, cuts, and bruises. (Marshall denied hurting Watley.) Randy Moss of the New England Patriots, against whom Rachelle Washington got a temporary restraining order and brought battery allegations . Now TMZ brings us a dog-bites-man, or rather wife-bites-husband, reversal. Earl Watson accused his wife Jennifer Freeman of hitting him in the face and biting him on the chest. Watson played for the Pacers last season, and Freeman is a Disney actress, so double B-list celebrity.

The provocation, according to TMZ’s reading of papers filed in court, was that Watson checked Freeman’s phone after she got a “suspicious” text message around 11 p.m. one night. So the jealous guy part of the story at least is familiar. Of course, women do hit men in domestic violence situations, just less often. W hat’s surprising here, if the story is true, is that there’s no allegation of a mutual physical altercation, which is what you’d expect. But the next chapter follows a familiar script: After first saying he wanted a divorce and custody of the couple’s baby daughter, Watson changed his mind and his lawyer said: “The couple has reconciled their differences and plans to make their marriage work.” Women of course often back down in the same way. And then we often assume that they’re stuck in a sad cycle of violence (or, if they’re the girlfriends or wives of rich athletes, that they’ve been paid off). Watson’s decision surely will elicit a different reaction. Should it?