“NFL Announces New Zero-Tolerance Policy on Videotaped Domestic Violence” ~Post title on The Onion, September 9, 2014

Can we talk?

I’ve been reading the news and reading Facebook posts, which are not the same thing at all, but still the same topics are often aired in sound bites, captioned photos, and links to articles that sometimes we *like* but do not read.

Apparently, there are some who think Ray Rice should get another chance to play in the NFL. I don’t agree, but OJ Simpson probably does. Apparently, there are also some who think his now-wife is equally to blame. I don’t agree, but Chris Brown probably does.

Do married people fight at times? Provoke each other at times? Hurt one another at times? Yes, yes, and yes. But Janay Rice did not knock herself out. And nothing she has ever done or said caused her to get knocked unconscious by someone she loves. Ray Rice did it. We all saw it. He delivered a knockout punch to someone he says he loves.

And it is a damn shame that the NFL took a different stand only after a videotape of the knockout blow was released. Domestic violence typically takes place behind closed doors, with no independent witnesses, no video footage to tell the story. The elevator videotape allowed for a story to be told.  It moved a dark issue into the light, even as it was very hard to watch.

I saw a bright side this week, on Facebook of all places. I saw many people speaking up. But I’m thinking of a few men in particular who are Facebook friends of mine. These guys raised their voices and stood strong when some of the comments went places that decent people do not go. These men give me hope.

One of them wrote this:

It’s funny how, for weeks now, everybody KNEW Ray Rice punched his wife & dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator, but once the video of it happening surfaced yesterday: consequences.

It’s like, without the video, just knowing that it happened was somehow mitigated, like the Ravens (who immediately cut him today) watched the video and went “Oh! You mean he PUNCHED her! Our bad, totally misunderstood what that meant.” Or the NFL, which immediately suspended him indefinitely (today), somehow thought it was justifiable wife punching until the video came out.

Wait, did I say “funny” up above? I meant disgusting and shameful.

And another one wrote this:

There are people that deserve second chances, obviously. Men that knock their women unconscious with one punch, pedophiles, animal abusers, people that abuse the elderly, people who rape don’t. There you go. There are the new rules.

And someone else wrote this:

I [have seen] first hand how it is hard for a victim to leave and to get out. So, don’t question Ray Rice’s wife for marrying him. Just know that it goes deeper than what you may think. Pray for her.

I’m grateful for strong voices like those above. These guys are upstanders. I don’t care what anyone says about how hard it is to find a good man these days. I see them everywhere.

And now I have something to say to Janay, in response to this:

“To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing,” ~Janay Rice, in an Instagram post dated September 9, 2014.

I don’t want you to relive that moment, Janay.  But the odds are not in your favor. 

Below is a link to the open letter to Rihanna that I posted on this blog several years ago.  It applies to Janay.

Dear Rihanna

I don’t fault Janay Rice for staying, for saying what she has said, or for doing what she has done. I also know that she could have died in that elevator. Her baby girl could have lost her mama. But Janay Rice was spared, this time. When she woke up from that knockout punch in the elevator, she was given a second chance.


11 comments on “Second Chances, the NFL, and Good Men”

  1. Yes to all of this.

    People need to take off their judgey faces and realize they don’t know how much they don’t know. People stay for lots of reasons that make perfect sense to them at the time; he says he’s sorry and won’t do it again, the kids, no access to money in their own right, self-esteem that has been ripped down for years by someone who repeatedly tells them they are nothing without him until they believe it themselves, and on it goes.

    Rather than judge something we do not understand, maybe we should just be grateful we are not in, or are no longer in, that situation and offer our support. Maybe, rather than asking why she stays, we should ask why he hits.

  2. The NFL and other major league sports are big business, but also conservative. It seems like at times they will not change until forced to, like this time. Because it makes them look bad, and is therefore bad for business. What worries me is that dom. violence is a tip of the iceberg, and you hope that bringing these events out into the news horrifies us and teaches us. Teaches us to be better. I long ago stopped watching football, America’s favorite sport and TV show, because it is about hitting and hurting. Is it surprising that a guy like Ray Rice thinks that is how you settle a discussion? Humanity has a violent, intolerant, ugly side, and you can only hope we learn to do better. As for football, I wish less violent sports were more popular in the US. But it is like guns here, popular with a well-connected and noisy crowd….

  3. Leaving an abuser is possibly the hardest thing a victim of domestic violence can do for many, many reasons. Some victims end up moving far away from friends and family, some even change their identity to try to feel safe. With all the media attention she cannot feel safe while he is not incarcerated (and even then she might not feel safe). Do you think he might be incarcerated if it was a wealthy business MAN he assaulted in that elevator?

  4. This case has made me think about a book I read this summer, Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty. The book does a fantastic job of illustrating the realities of an abusive relationship. Something I know about –I was in one for several years in my early 20s. It took a couple of years and a really important person to get me to leave, and 10 years after I’d left, I got a phone call from my abuser. 10 years later, and living many States away, and I was still terrified. I wish more people understood how incredibly easy it is to stay, and blame yourself for the abuse, and how that fear can stay with you so long.

  5. Breaks your heart for her, and the silver lining might be better quality discussion about domestic violence. My son received a life-size fathead of Ray Rice for Christmas and it was hanging on his wall until this spring when this went down. It was a sad thing to tell a 9 year old boy his NFL hero was no hero, but maybe ultimately a good thing, too. At any rate, it educated him about the topic.

  6. I witnessed domestic violence firsthand as a child. IT is scarring. I applaud you for not going back. I do love your story; well, not the bad part, but the good part and about reconnecting with that police officer. Thank you for sharing this.

  7. There are so many “issues” entangled in this story isn’t there. The kinds of things that have been said about the incident(s) are often appalling and disgusting. I’m glad you highlighted those who are not. Because what it comes down to is you don’t hit another person (woman or man), end of story.

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