There is nothing quite like having a football player busted for beating his girlfriend (wife) unconscious to get the talk going about domestic violence. And, to hear how much utter stupidity still exists out there. A 49ers radio commentator blamed Janay Rice because she married him after this occurred.
Did you notice that she married him the day after the charges were filed against him? Those of us who work in this field, see things like this all the time. They just don’t play out in the national news.
So, how many times have you seen the clip of Ray punching out Janay? If you watch CNN or ESPN, it has played over and over. For most people, this is shocking behavior. And, it should be. A man punching a woman so she loses consciousness, and then dragging her to their room, should be shocking.
In the beginning, there was a lot of talk about Janay. Some subtle and some overt blaming of her. I heard one sports guy say he saw her spit at him in the elevator. Another said she pushed him into the corner so he had to defend himself. Good grief people, there is NO excuse for his behavior. None.
My brother and I has a few email exchanges about this. He’s a smart guy and has two daughters (as well as a son). One of his comments to me was that he thought the punishment was too harsh, because she had no permanent injuries. With all the talk about football players getting concussions, we just dumb down about battered women who get knocked unconscious? She didn’t have a helmet to protect her. She was knocked out cold. Do we know she won’t experience problems from closed head trauma? And, what about the psychological damage? Does anyone believe she doesn’t have emotional damage from being abused? No permanent injuries? Wrong. She is permanently damaged by this incident.
Of course, they are both saying nothing like this has ever happened before. I don’t believe that for a minute. What I believe is that he never did it where it was being recorded or with witnesses. He slugged her. No hesitation at all. And pushed her around with his feet as she lay there unconscious. I think it would be quite naive to think this is the first time.
So, now what? The next big story will hit the news and this one will fade away. Janay and Ray will go on, for a while anyway. She may stay with him and she may not. Either way, she deserves our caring and support. When/if she decides to leave, she will need understanding and empathy. Don’t ask, why does she stay? Ask how you can help. How can you educate people about domestic violence? How can you be a support to a battered woman? How can you stand by her even when she refuses to stand up for herself?
Janay Rice will fade from the headlines. But I hope the importance of this situation stays with you. When you see abuse, offer help. There is a new website just opening to help people find a battered women’s shelter anywhere in the country. There is a new app for smart phones that connects a battered woman with her designated support people if she needs help.
Be that person who cares. Be that person who doesn’t judge what you don’t understand. Stand up for Janay. Stand up for battered women.