Terrence Davis Beat His Girlfriend... And Got Away With It

I already know who’s here. It’s one of two camps. You either know the story and agree with the title. Or you don’t know the story and are intrigued. This is the new age of persuasive writing that really isn’t persuasive at all. That title is click bait. Because you either already agree with that statement or you don’t know the story, and if I give a one-sided version of it you’ll end up believing it.

We’re going to look at what happened with the Toronto Raptors’ guard, but as always, this is a writing blog first. So let’s go over the facts and then talk about the writing aspect.

Davis, 23, was arrested at a Manhattan hotel back in October after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend.

He was charged with a total of seven offences, including third-degree assault. The New York District Attorney's office confirmed that it has moved to dismiss the five counts “related to assaultive conduct.”

The spokesperson said that Davis has agreed to an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal on the other two counts – endangering the welfare of a child and criminal mischief in the fourth degree. Under the terms of the court order, those charges will be dismissed in one year so long as Davis has no new arrests and abides by an order of protection.

When the news that most of the charges had been dropped, I was stunned by the response of people who suddenly felt he was innocent. And the sheer intensity in which they defended him was surprising. (In hindsight, it shouldn’t have been.)

Now if I was writing to an echo chamber, again, not a persuasive piece. (A piece of writing designed to change a person’s mind) I would simply point out that if the judge thought he was innocent then they wouldn’t have left the restraining order in place, and basically put Davis on a year long probation.

If I was writing for the other side, the side that believes he’s innocent, I would have done what a few sportswriters did, and my title would be “Domestic Charges Dismissed Against Terrence Davis.”

The charges were not “dismissed.” Five of them were “dropped.” That is not the same. It may not seem like a big deal, but in an explosive and tragic story like this one, every word matters. So when you’re writing an article about something this volatile, it’s your responsibility to choose your words carefully.

Now what if you’re truly writing a persuasive piece. You want to convince a wider audience that Davis got away with something truly horrific. I point this out in my course, How To Write In 90 Minutes, that it comes down to not only relevant facts, but story.

In this case, I’d point out that statistically speaking, one out of four women will experience some form of physical or sexual attack. However, less than 40% of women around the world ever seek help, and only 10% involve the police. As for false claims, the numbers hover between 1% and 2%.

Those are the facts. And then, I’d tell a story. A number of years ago, a very successful female friend of mine was viciously attacked by her ex-boyfriend. She did not want to call the police. She did not want to get dragged through the mud. I convinced her to put it on the record, because he was going to do it again. She did, and was grateful after she did it. I’ve had family members attacked. And here’s the thing, the courts just don’t protect women.

There was no punishment for my friend’s attacker. (Sixty days probation) There was no punishment for the attackers of my family members. Just as there was no punishment for the million-dollar athlete still playing for the Raptors.

Perhaps Davis is telling the truth. Perhaps he did nothing wrong. But if you consider the numbers, and the fact that the restraining order remains in place, and that he remains on probation, do you really believe he didn’t do it?

Whatever camp you’re in, consider the stories you know, the women you know, and the facts of the case. And I think we will come to the same conclusion.

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