While the NASCAR community, drivers and fans alike, reacted with surprise, shock and dismay to learn of the spousal abuse charges filed against Travis Kvapil, the driver is sadly just one example of the statistical probability of domestic violence rearing its head, this time in the sport of NASCAR.
In fact, statistics show that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and that an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
So, with domestic violence being so prevalent in all walks of life, the statistical probability that this would occur in the sport of NASCAR should be no surprise. And sadly, Travis Kvapil’s wife Jennifer has now become one of those statistics.
The news broke earlier this week when it was announced that Kvapil had been arrested by the Mooresville, North Carolina police and charged with assault and false imprisonment. Police responded to a 911 call to the Kvapil home, where they determined that an episode of domestic violence was serious enough to be considered a misdemeanor case of assault.
Thankfully, in the Kvapil situation, the domestic violence statistics involving serious harm, where every day in the United States more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends, did not come to pass.
According to the arrest report, obtained by both USA TODAY Sports and the Sporting News, Jennifer Kvapil suffered no serious injuries in spite of being allegedly struck in the head and pulled into her bedroom by her hair.
After the incident, Kvapil was booked, held overnight in the Iredell County Jail and freed on a $2,000 bond after his court appearance. Kvapil is scheduled to return to court on November 19th, 2013.
One of the domestic violence statistics that Kvapil has defied, at least to date, is the economic impact, as the cost nationally of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion per year. In Kvapil’s case he was cleared to compete in the Charlotte race by both the sanctioning body and by his team BK Racing.
Both BK Racing and NASCAR, however, made clear that they did not condone what happened and would be carefully monitoring the progress of events, including his upcoming court case.
“NASCAR does not condone the actions with which Travis Kvapil has been charged and we are disappointed to learn of this incident,” a NASCAR statement read. “We have been in close communication with the race team and are in the process of gathering as much information as possible.”
“NASCAR takes this matter very seriously and will continue to monitor the situation as it moves forward.”
“BK Racing understands the severity of the situation and we don’t condone the actions that Travis has been accused of,” Ron Devine, BK Racing team co-owner, said. “We feel it’s important to let the system take its course.”
“For that reason, we have elected to support Travis and his family and keep Travis in the car for this weekend’s race,” the BK Racing statement continued. “Further comment will be available as additional information becomes available.”
But even with the allowance of his sport and team to continue racing at least for this weekend, Kvapil acknowledged that further economic impact for him, his family, and the team may be yet to come.
“I’m sure there’s certainly sponsors, the manufacturer, everybody is going to have to take a close look at this,” Kvapil said. “Obviously I represent a number of supporters of BK Racing, and I’m the face of that.”
“Certainly there could be an impact there.”
In addition to the statistically proven economic impact of domestic violence, Kvapil will also need to attend to a very important statistic related to his children, as up to 10 million children annually witness some sort of domestic violence, which can also lead to the perpetuation of violence as they grow into adulthood.
Kvapil is currently not permitted to return to his home and his only contact with his wife and three children will be by phone or email.
“I don’t want to downplay it, certainly,” Kvapil said. “It’s a serious situation, and we’re going to go through all the right courses and handle it correctly.”
“This is a personal, family matter and I deeply regret what happened.”
While Kvapil has asked for privacy so that he and his family can hopefully work out their issues as well as allowing the situation to move through the legal process, the issue has now become a very public one for him, his team and the sport.
Much has been written about whether or not Kvapil should be allowed to race, however, the most important aspect of the situation has not yet been addressed.
This situation, as difficult as it is, can also be an opportunity for all involved in the sport of NASCAR to highlight the issue of domestic violence and the help that is available for anyone in this situation.
In fact, since October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and ironically, the BK Racing team was going to sport decals proclaiming this prior to the incident, all involved in the sport should take a moment to share the most important statistic, that domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender.
As has been demonstrated in the Kvapil case, domestic violence can and does affect people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, even those who are followed and adored by many because they have the privilege of driving race cars for a living.
The case of Travis Kvapil should remind everyone associated with the sport of NASCAR, drivers, teams, officials and fans alike, that although it can and has happened to someone intimately involved in the sport, help is available to anyone in this type of a situation.
For further information about domestic violence or to get more involved in calling attention to the issue, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or the domestic violence organization in your home community.