The NFL, Domestic Violence, and #WhyIStayed


Petchesky's analysis of the situation makes little sense, and he offers nothing but a winking "trust me" when he claims that "top reporters" were told something privately...who the hell tells reporters private things they do not want spread around?

What makes the most sense based on what the NFL did, and has done in the past, is that they were aware of the recent video, and were simply hoping that it would go away/would not leak to the general public once the season started. Hotel and police officials claim that the NFL never requested the tapes from inside the elevator, which makes sense if they wanted to claim later they never saw them.

Like every other NFL scandal, the NFL knew what was happening, but hoped the general public would never really find out, or that they would not care. When they got busted, they (to their credit, I guess) admitted their backwards policies in no uncertain terms, and have since revised their policies so that domestic abuse is bascially the harshest act punished by the NFL.

Well, besides crazy things like Hernandez-style multiple murders.

By the way, you might want to go ahead and restrict this post to registerd commenters now, based on how things seem to be starting out here.
What's really sad is she'll probably have children with this swine before she finally realizes the kind of man that punches women can't be trusted.
@4: They already have a kid, actually.

A sad thing I have found, is how many women (especially women of color) I work/live around who support Ray fully. Granted, I live in Baltimore, but it is still very crazy to me.

I am not even exaggerating, but 9/10 women I work with are basically of the opinion that Janay did things to deserve it, that Ray is being unfairly punished, and that this is just what happens when you push a man too far.

A depressing melange of institutionalized misogyny, and a skewed, fatalistic worldview that occurs with histories of poverty and belonging to a class of people who have been discriminated against in this nation since the beginning. It really is sad.
The sports industry creates (pharmaceutically, economically, and psychologically), and protects, these Frankenstein's-monsters. People stay nearby them (matrimonially and socially) because they're rich and famous.

If they pound on folks because of the former reason, then some of them will remain nearby them for the latter reason.

That is, we probably shouldn't generalize this sad situation to horror of spouse abuse in the general population. But i'm quite sure we'll attempt to do so.
@5 You have a very good point.

Indeed, it is a frustrating conundrum. I read this piece on the morning commute:…

Many, many years ago, I had a neighbor a woman who was a domestic violence counselor who told me she was exasperated at how many of the battered women she counseled returned to their boyfriend or husband. She remarked "They always go back." I, as a het male was jarred.

I never knew that. Nor did I know how economically dependent most of these women are on their companions. I've never observed domestic violence in my immediate & extended family. My parents were most civil. And, none of my large circle of friends have ever had a case of domestic violence that I know of. In one rare case, I've heard of an immediate family member who struck his spouse. They have since divorced. And, I don't recall him being an unrepentant and recurrent batterer.

But, I've largely been immune to domestic violence. Yes, that's good fortune. On the other hand, I wonder how many of these men/perpetrators come from domestic violence situations/families themselves?

@8 They take away his job because he's in the news, not because they care about domestic violence. He's meant to be entertaining, but he's become embarrassing.
So, now Janay is a victim and is being further victimized by the NFL taking away their income from what Ray devoted his life to ?

I'm not sure who to feel sad for. If she gets beaten in the future, will public outcry be "why did you stay" (Rhianna-like) or "Ray is so bad" ?
@8 so if you saw a video of one of your employees -- a 218lb trained athlete -- beat unconscious his 120lb spouse and drag her unconscious body around like a sack of rocks, you WOULDN'T fire him? When all your other employees saw the same video? What kind if work environment do you think that'd promote?

I realize your interminable idiot, so don't respond. I won't read it. But for once THINK about shit before you open your moron hole.
@8, Christ, sometimes you're an idiot.

"It's only a game".

No. Me playing a bit of amateur soccer with a bunch of middle aged dudes on weekends is "only a game". The NFL, on the other hand, is the wealthiest sports franchise on the planet. The players are multi-millionaires and national celebrities. Furthermore, the NFL promotes its players as role models, bastions of physical perfection that all boys should aspire to.

If I beat my spouse, few people besides my spouse and the police would know or care. If a multi-millionaire national celebrity touted as a role model beats his spouse, the whole world finds out about it, and it reflects badly on the organization that hires him and promotes him as a role model. So, yeah, they have every right to can his ass.
Hey what are the stats on idiots like Rice only doing it once and not again as opposed to doing it multiple times?
At the start of the video she backhands him in the face, and she was coming at him again when he hit her. I guess we're just gong to pretend those things didn't happen?

A man should never hit a woman under any circumstances. But a woman should never hit a man. It's hard for me to cast a woman like Janay as "battered victim" when she obviously feels entitled to hit him whenever the whim strikes.

I've experienced a number of domestic violence incidents in my life, all at the hands of my female partners. I've been clubbed in the back of the head (in public!) with a backpack full of books while trying to walk away from an argument. I've been surprise attacked with a volley of punches while sitting at my desk working, and another time while I was sleeping. Yes, sleeping. I've been shoved. I've had a book thrown at me. I've been blocked from exiting rooms.

Apparently, like Janay's backhand, those incidents don't really count.
@16, If we also pretend he was left unconscious after she hit him and she dragged his limp body out of the elevator then maybe you would have a point. Domestic violence is always terrible but sometimes it is quantifiably worse than others. I mean, you can acknowledge that she shouldn't have hit him in the first place and still believe she shouldn't have been knocked unconscious. It's alarming how many people don't get this.

One of the most amazingly memorable things you wrote was about was being in a disco with a group, one of whom was a lesbian, and how you looked into her eyes and knew she wanted to screw you. I think you wrote that you didn't act on it because you were with another woman that night, but you just knew. You are calling your attackers "partners," but it wouldn't be surprising if they were women whom you acted inappropriately with because you just "knew" they wanted you to be a "man" with them. And if that's the case, you were probably asking for it.
@16: How awful! I am so sorry that these things happened to you and that you didn't feel you could seek help. I sincerely hope that these people are out of your life for good now.

Not that I want to get into a "he started it!" thing but as far as "hitting whenever the whim strikes" he had spit in her face.
Intimate parter abuse is rarely as black and white as we might like, and that often prevents victim, both male and female from seeking help.
@8 it's not just a game, its a multi-billion dollar industry and he was an employee of the baltimore ravens. And if the only repercussions he has to deal with is the loss of his job, he should jump for joy because his ass deserves to be in jail.
There's a very good reason that these stories of football players engaging in domestic abuse, contract killings, dog fighting, etc. regularly appear. Football and violence are inseparable. It is a violent sport that attracts violent people, violent spectators and a violent culture. The only way to "discourage" violence in football is to shut the whole damn business down. If players keep playing, sponsors keep paying and people keep watching, we're just gonna see this shit again and again and again. Go team!
@18 use of force is binary. This is comes up when people ask why cops don't shoot the leg. She assaulted him, he defended himself legally.

The problem for the NFL is that this type of *fight* with these two seems like its normal in their relationship, and it supports an ugly stereotype about players and their wives that so far they have screwed up a lot on.

They both seem like terrible people.
@23 you're so wrong. He clearly gets in her face as soon as they walk in the elevator and she pushes him away because she feels threatened (with good reason). He didn't "defend" himself, he was the one who started the fight.

And also use of force DOES matter. Would it be ok for an adult knock a child unconscious if that child hit the adult first? I'd love to see you argue that to a judge.
@8 --- What's "only a game," football, or beating up women? Please clarify.
@22: So I guess you also support the banning of all media which contains violence, as well as other sports such as boxing, hockey, rugby, Australian rules football, lacrosse, and all martial arts?

Or do you just arbitrarily draw the line at an activity you already do not like?



Have any of you ever lived the insanity that is a child's life in the midst of two adults bound together in the destructive cycles of an abusive, co-dependent relationship?

I have.

These questions, discussions and hashtags are so full of cognitive dissonance, gross ignorance and utter stupidity that only one thing becomes more apparent - society still lacks the knowledge, wisdom and understanding to address this problem.
Susan O'Leary, a clinical psychologist at SUNY-Stony Brook, has done some great research on domestic violence and how both men and women escalate it (just do a google scholar search on her and tons of journal articles will pop up).

Other lines of research support the hypothesis that many women stay in abusive relationships because they perceive the alternatives to staying as being worse (e.g., they'll be killed, or they believe they'll be alone forever). Social psychologist Caryl Rusbult did a lot of work on this (the Interdependence theory of relationships).
@seatackled: I see. So I deserved to be attacked by my girlfriends because one night a lesbian friend and I flirted and made googly eyes at each other?

Please, do the right thing and remove yourself from the dating pool.
So she hit him and he hit her and knocked her out. That's one thing. What's damning in my opinion is that instead of trying to bring her around and make sure she's okay, or get medical help for her, he just drags her out and tries to keep it hush-hush, right? A punch thrown in the heat of the moment is one thing, but the next moment's reaction can say a lot. Caveat: I haven't personally seen the video, but rather heard descriptions of it. Feel free to correct me if I've got the wrong impression.
@blip: Domestic violence is always terrible but sometimes it is quantifiably worse than others.

Agreed. I personally see a distinction between an impulsive reaction to being attacked and, say, punching one's wife in the head for overcooking the turkey, even if in the latter case the man knows to pull his punches so as to avoid a visit to the ER.
@30: I think seatackled is making some certainly unfair assumptions about the nature of the relationships you used as examples.
No one, not even those we find personally objectionable, deserve to be victims of intimate parter violence.
And I say this, even though I am on Team Seatackled when it comes to my over all opinion of you.
I said some mean things to my now ex-husband during a set of heated arguments and I felt bad about this and apologized. When he escalated from verbal raging to spitting on me I would push him away forcefully as Janay does in the video. Eventually I stopped responding to him getting up in my face, and spitting on me, instead I just sort of balled up, it helped that he liked to do this after waking me up in bed. He escalated to hair pulling (doesn't leave a mark!) and letting me know he'd figured out the perfect way to murder me. When I told him I was going to stay with a friend, I got some great punches to the shoulder (his new favorite tactic) and literally was kicked in the ass (ouch). In between all these episodes was a sad man, who I loved and wanted to help. Luckily, I and a bunch of witnesses called the cops after a public episode, I found a therapist, I was hopeful that mandated treatment would mean he would get well. When he called to let me know he'd rather go to jail then do the domestic violence support group, and drug eval. and treatment, I filed for divorce and never looked back.

The thing that no one really sees is how a person's boundaries can continually move within an intimate relationship, especially when the relationship is isolating the couple from the outside world. My ex-husband was charming, kind, and intelligent, until he wasn't kind. My life was charmed up until all of this happened and because his life seemed less charmed my initial decision was I should stick around and help him because I could handle this.

There is situational violence, perpetrated by both sexes on their partners and then there is a sort of intimate terrorism, more dramatically described here:…

I don't know what Janay and Ray's relationship is like, but the lack of empathy he displayed after knocking her out feels like the latter type to me. There is all kinds of complexity in any relationship but all I know is I have a hard time watching him spit on her.
@32: In light of your statement, would you apply that distinction to her slapping Rice in the face in response to him spitting in hers?
@34: Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate your insight. It gets so frustrating for people on the outside to parse these dynamics, and stories like yours help a lot I think.
Wow. I can't spell.
Corrections to my comment @33:
@Lissa: Intimate parter abuse is rarely as black and white as we might like, and that often prevents victim, both male and female from seeking help.


It doesn't help that our legal system only recognizes one type of domestic violence - chronic, severe, and involving a victim who doesn't know her bests interests. If you call 911, the court will put a restraining order on your partner forcing them to avoid all contact with you, and of course, move out. If there are kids, he'll get 1 supervised visit per week. Childcare? Bills? Loneliness? You figure it out for the next year as the case slowly winds its way through court. There's little anyone, not even the victim, can do to stop that train once it starts rolling.

Here's a 3 part story written by a woman who doesn't feel she was well served by this system, and a great article by Nina Shapiro about unintended consequences of this one-size-fits-all approach.

The incidents involving me were isolated cases of my partners losing control. They weren't a part of a chronic pattern (even though it did happen more than once with one of the women). I'm sure similar incidents take place all the time, and no one seeks help because they either don't need the kind of help our legal system provides or because the couple can, in fact, deal with it themselves.

P.S. All I've seen is what went down in the video. Maybe this guy is indeed a chronic abuser, although she certainly didn't seem to be afraid of him.
@Lissa And I say this, even though I am on Team Seatackled when it comes to my over all opinion of you.

Uh, thanks?
@38: I so agree, one size does not fit all. Again, I am really glad that you are no longer with the people who hit you.
I'm not talking about banning anything. I couldn't care less if you want to watch football, cockfights, or the new serial rapist reality show. I'm just stating the fact that we live in a violent society that loves violent entertainment. What's the point in kidding ourselves that we can have one without the other?
@30 seandr:

Poor baby, of course I don't think you deserve to be attacked by your girlfriends. But I definitely used the language that women DV victims often encounter on purpose. And it's not because you and your friend flirted with each other; it's more about the overall sense that you convey that you're at minimum right there on the edge of the men's rights nutjobbery. You've written many comments of that nature; the comment about your lesbian friend having "that look" in her eyes that I think you also said you've seen in other women's eyes is downright chilling if that's all you're going on--and you gave no reason for anyone to think that there's any verbal expression of consent.
@3: I think you misread what Petchesky wrote. The NFL (and Rice's lawyers) wanted the public to believe the video would, if not exonerate Rice, at least mitigate the situation, that somehow Janay was an equal participant. THAT is what they were leaking privately to some of their most supportive members of the media.

I am not sure I was making assumptions, fair or unfair, per se; I think I was just being skeptical about whether these were women he was already in a relationship with as he suggested.
I've seen the video and I agree with your assessment. While I don't appreciate the visceral reaction (Rice decking his then GF unconscious) it is indeed, the aftermath that greatly concerns me as well. He evidently spit on her. He doesn't render assistance at all.
The entire episode just looks mean spirited.

So, I do believe he deserves what he got.
@16 Jesus Fucking Christ! Stay away from women if you can't tell the violent psychos from the rest!
Or, since the one constant is your presence, stay away from women as you are clearly the problem, not them.
@44: Fair enough!
@31 Having seen the video I'd say you got it right. From the bit vid shown of them waiting for the elevator and getting on it is clear they were fighting about something. There was some mutual pushing and she does appear to slap him. He then just punches her clean in the face and she goes down hard appearing to me to hit the back of her head on the handrail on the way down. His next actions really turned my stomach.

That kind of blow plus the crack to the scull on the way down can kill someone. Does he check on her? No. Hell the elevator stops at one floor the doors open and close he does nothing, gets to what I assume is his intended floor and he drags her out. Stopping when someone coming down the hall calls out to him. His actions were just cold.

I can't identify who the guy in the hallway is but I wonder if hotel security hadn't seen the whole thing on live feed and got someone up to his floor fast.
@Lissa: Again, I am really glad that you are no longer with the people who hit you.

I'm not?
@Lissa: would you apply that distinction to her slapping Rice in the face in response to him spitting in hers?

Yes. Spitting is a provocative act that tends not to bring out the best in people.

I'm also fine with our culture putting the burden of responsibility on men not to escalate.

Really, the point of my over-sharing is that I know for a fact that good people can sometimes in the heat of the moment do shameful things.
@49 & 50: I imagine you are glad not to be in that situation any longer, yes.
I also agree that indeed, in the heat of the moment good people can do shameful things, and thank you for telling your story.
@41: Pardons if I misunderstood, but when you say "shut the whole business down," it implies such. But I also disagree that violent media is a root cause of violence, like you suggest.

@43: I am with him when he claims the NFL had seen the whole tape, it is when he suggest a conspiracy between the press, the NFL, and his lawyers without any evidence or support that he loses me.
@41, strange that as NFL remains as popular as ever, as mixed-martial arts have become more and more popular, as violent video games have become more and more popular, the "violent society" which loves these things, has been getting less and less violent. Violent crime has been steadily decreasing since the 90's and is at levels last seen in the 60's and 70's.
@seatackled: you gave no reason for anyone to think that there's any verbal expression of consent.

Consent for what? Enjoying each other's company? Laughing at each other's jokes? Appreciating a moment of mutual attraction? What in the fuck are you talking about?

If you've never had the experience of gazing into the eyes of a woman who's been taken in by your charm, bummer for you.

The irony here is that I am the King of not approaching women who have given me obvious indications of interest. Something about that dynamic makes me very nervous. In fact, on many occasions, women have lost patience with my inaction and taken matters into their own hands (although most of them just give up).

There are many more kinds of men in the world than you seem to think there are.
There's a lot of latent racism in attacking NFL players.

DV is prevalent in all aspects of society and it's wrong wherever it happens. No evidence that it happens more in the NFL. The words that people use to describe professional entertainers (NFL players) are telling.

And of course seeing the video makes people react more - there's no conspiracy there. it's a more powerful and immediate medium than print. What affects you more - reading about a plane crash or seeing it on the news?

I'm sorry, I've misunderstood. I've never gotten the impression from you that you tended toward inaction, so I just thought you were a God's-gift-to-women sort of person.

Regarding the "consent" comment, I wasn't referring to anything related to enjoying each other's company, etc. You're phrasing--or at least the way I read it--seemed to fall into the "her lips may say no, but her eyes say yes" category. I would say that when anyone looks into the eyes of someone else whom they haven't been intimate with before, and suddenly decides that a particular glance is saying, "Let's screw," then you're in pretty messed up territory. You can ask, or they can tell you, but if you're just interpreting the look in their eye, then you could very well be misinterpreting.

If I misunderstood, which I am assuming I did, then I'm glad I'm wrong, because we need fewer entitled people out there.
Reports are that the NFL got the whole video three months ago.…
@57 Yeah that makes sense, why would the hotel want to hide the tape. 'Here take it we don't want to deal with this shit.'

Does open the door to many uncomfortable questions e.g. would the NFL hierarchy have responded differently if Janey had been paler in complexion?
"football players engaging in domestic abuse, contract killings, dog fighting, etc. regularly appear"

Well, mainly the black players.
@5 I challenge your assumption about "institutional misogyny" among the african american community, at least in this regard.

I'll put things plainly and apologize in advance for lack of tact and nuance:

No one is exempt from deserving a punch in the face.

Did Palmer "deserve it"? We actually have no clue. We don't know what the fight was about, what issues led to it, and so on. Now, you may hold the opinion that there is no scenario in which a woman should be subject to male violence; or, perhaps, that anyone should ever be subject to anything except State Violence (ie, the justice system). Per your comments, it's clear that not everyone thinks that way and in fact, probably significant numbers of people believe that a punch in the face is decent way to resolve arguments (as opposed to, say, maiming, murder, or financial/social violence). We certainly have a lot of inference that Palmer feels that way - and who is the literati to take that away from her?
@60: Whiskey.


Jesus fucking Christ #16 really? This thread is dead and gone and still I have to respond. Have you seen Ray Rice's forearms? How can you possibly justify crushing someone with a baseball bat when they've flicked you with a chop stick?

I'll say this: there is a difference between a an obsessive, seducing, escalating abuser and a guy with an anger and impulse control problem. Sometimes they overlap, but in this case I think probably not. Rice should be fired of, but the more important question now is what the fuck did the NFL think a woman getting punched unconscious looked like? A backhand slap from a Humphrey Bogart film? They're not stupid - they goddamn knew exactly what went down. But getting it in the past and continuing to print money is of course the priority. Hopefully some of our smarter legislators light Goodell up like an embarrassed Christmas tree.
@60: I meant institutionalized misogyny in society as a whole, not just the black community, probably could have been clearer.

Although, I do disagree with your assertion that sometimes women just have to be beaten down when they get uppity. We all can see that she "hit" him a couple times, but to anyone who would ask if his response was appropriate, no answer could possibly suffice. The logic to base such a question is too flawed and fucked up.

Seek help, and please do not get into any serious relationships with women until you do.
@seatackled, I remember that comment of seandr’s — you’re right, it was memorable — and I thought it was so sweet.

He said she wanted to be kissed. If he’d kissed her and been wrong, or right but she had very mixed feelings, a misguided first kiss in a public place is unlikely to be something two friends can’t resolve easily.

How do most people get to a first kiss without reading body language? It’s typically not that hard: closing the physical space between you, holding a gaze. Seandr specifically noted the detail of her pupils dilating. It’s very common for people to want to be kissed and I see no reason to doubt him.

Perhaps your doubt rests on her being a lesbian? I was a lesbian for ten years. Before that I was straight and bi-curious for ten years. Now I am bi. Lots of people are not completely one or the other.

Wrt people hitting eachother and not being always at their best, I’m with you. We expect that men have (rightly) been raised with a taboo against hitting women. When we see a man not only using force against someone smaller but breaking a taboo to do so, we (rightly) read a lot more into that than when we see someone smaller hitting someone larger in the absence of a similar taboo. I suspect that women hitting men happens fairly often and I’m not at all surprised by your experience.

In a normal relationship in which people are not always at their best, the couple figure out alternative ways of communication and dispute resolution fairly quickly and it doesn’t escalate or become a pattern.
Ms Cummins @64 - I think one would not have to be Rumpole or Phyllida Erskine Brown to win that case for either the defence or the prosecution. But then I am neutral on the reliability of the witness.