When TMZ released the extended version of the Ray Rice tape late Monday morning, those who had criticized the NFL commissioner for his leniency were once again horrified by the events that led to Rice dragging his unconscious bride-to-be out of the elevator.
Ray Rice was charged with simple assault that night. The woman in that video, the one he’d marry weeks later, was charged too. She was also forced to apologize for her “role” that night. The charges were dropped, eventually.
Though the Baltimore Ravens announced their termination of Rice yesterday afternoon, questions still remain, and nearly all of them are being directed at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, and other team executives who may have seen the video in its entirety before yesterday’s leak. Some speculate that knowing the full story may have led the organization to implement the new domestic violence policy announced late last month.
Hopefully all will be revealed and resolved quickly. You’ll forgive me, though, for having my doubts. Because if social media is any indicator, there’s a lot of work to be done. A lot of work. More than just conversations or speeches or “very special episodes” of your favorite sitcom. It’s going to take deprogramming on a grand scale. It’s going to take serious legislation that protects victims of domestic violence. It’s going to take more than a few of us giving a damn.
I’m not going to tell you what you should already know. I’m not going to spout statistics, or share personal stories of people I know who have lived and died at the hands of their partners. I’m not sure those things would matter much here. No matter how many times we say “this shouldn’t happen,” there will always be someone rationalizing the abuse, someone countering with “well, what did she do to provoke him?” The same rationalizations used to silence and ridicule Janay Rice. The same rationalizations being used to silence and ridicule someone you know.
You’ve seen and heard all of this before. You’ve read countless news reports about the women who tried to leave, and what happened to them. You’ve heard the stories about friends or relatives suffering their own private hell, so you know that leaving an abusive situation is easier said than done. You know that abusers try to control every aspect of their partners lives, from finances to friendships. You’ve seen pictures of the broken women, covered in dried blood and bruises. You’ve seen all of these things. If you still don’t understand the severity of this thing, if you still don’t get how dehumanizing and deadly domestic violence is? There’s no hope for you, and I can’t waste my time trying to convince you.
All I can do is hope that Janay Rice–and the thousands of women like her–will live to see another pain-free day. But now that her husband is unemployed, and presumably unemployable, I can’t help but wonder if he’ll take his anger out her in the days to come.