Content Warning: Emotional and Physical Partner Abuse
Alexis Blackburn, an ex-girlfriend of former SF Giants reliever Sam Dyson, detailed Dyson’s pattern of physical and emotional abuse during their relationship.
On Tuesday, an investigative report by Katie Strong and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic revealed a preponderance of evidence that former SF Giants relief pitcher Sam Dyson was both physically and emotionally abusive to his ex-girlfriend Alexis Blackburn. Allegations were first made public last winter when Blackburn shared that she had moved out of the couple’s home following a violent outburst on an Instagram account for her cat.
Strong and Rosenthal’s report details a number of Dyson’s abusive behaviors but also illuminates the shortcomings of many institutions purportedly present to help victims of domestic abuse.
In an interview with police in Jupiter, Florida, where the couple lived at the time of the final incident, Dyson admitted the couple’s relationship was “verbally violent and toxic” and that he had kicked their cat’s kennel. Furthermore, he did not deny grabbing or touching Blackburn during his outburst, instead, he said, “Honestly, I don’t remember.” The Athletic’s report includes photos of bruises on Blackburn’s arm.
According to the report, Dyson was a controlling presence in Blackburn’s life. Dyson prevented Blackburn from pursuing jobs and professional opportunities and even forced her to stop seeing friends when they had said something he didn’t like. Many around Blackburn had suspected that something dangerous might have been going on behind closed doors.
When Dyson was traded to the Giants in June of 2017, Blackburn had withdrawn from much of her social life and never really formed a relationship with other Giants families. Still, per the report, the news “was not one of shock.”
The report details two institutions that failed to offer Blackburn the support she needed: the police and Major League Baseball. Blackburn called the authorities on multiple occasions and was often brushed aside and even directly undermined by police officers. Rather than helping Blackburn feel like someone was there for her, police only pushed her further into isolation.
While Major League Baseball has instituted more protocols and programs focused on domestic violence, the report points out that all of those programs are given only to players themselves. Thus, a victim of abuse from a player only has access to that information through their abuser. It’s unclear if the league has plans to amend this going forward.
Dyson underwent rotator-cuff surgery last year after he was traded to the Twins and is currently a free agent. MLB is conducting an investigation following Blackburn’s allegations and could soon levy a suspension.
If you or someone you know is in an unsafe relationship, there are many resources available including those at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. We all deserve healthy relationships. We all deserve to be safe.