Many of us have been tracking the story of former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice and his wife Janay Rice over the last few days. But if you haven't, it's a good jumping off point for talking about domestic violence—a conversation that, like one on many touchy topics, people seem to have a really hard time with. Here are some places to start reading if you're still catching up:
Amy Davidson at the New Yorker on "What the Ray Rice Video Really Shows":
On Monday, a video of Ray Rice, the Ravens running back, punching his then fiancée in the head and leaving her slumped on the floor of an elevator, was released on TMZ. It was greeted with shock. By the early afternoon, the Ravens tweeted that they were terminating Rice’s contract. That is an appropriate response, except for one thing: we’ve known for months that Rice had hit Janay Palmer and left her unconscious; there had been a video already, of him dragging her inert body out of the elevator in a hotel in Atlantic City. And yet, somehow, the video from inside the elevator was not what some purportedly well-informed observers expected. The N.F.L. had investigated the incident, after all, and only suspended Rice for two games; that didn’t fit with the pictures on the screen. But what did people think it looked like when a football player knocked out a much smaller woman? Like a fair fight?
Barry Petchesky at Deadspin says "Someone Is Lying About Whether The NFL Saw The Ray Rice Tape":
Privately, top reporters were told in no uncertain terms that the video existed, that the NFL had seen it, that it showed Janay Palmer acting violently toward Rice, and that, if released, it would go some way toward mitigating the anger against him. One of the league's most devoted mouthpieces described the video for us on an off-the-record basis, going off what his sources had told him. The implication was clear: If you saw this video, you'd know why Rice only got [suspended for] two games.
Now that the video's out, the NFL and the Ravens are reversing course.
The Onion brings the cry-laugh:
Following public outcry over his mishandling of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s aggravated assault of his then-fiancée, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Tuesday that the league has adopted a new zero-tolerance policy toward all videotaped domestic abuse. “We hold our players to the highest standards both as professional athletes and as people, so any violence toward women that is recorded, authenticated, and then publicly distributed will be met with an automatic suspension and fine,” said Goodell, adding that the new, stricter guidelines reflect the league’s hard-line stance against any spousal abuse that is clearly and irrefutably captured on film.
Most importantly, though, this case has brought up the age-old question—and I beg you not to fall into this stupid thinking trap, but the question is out there, so let's address it—of "Why does she stay?" The woman Rice is shown savaging in this grainy video went on to marry him afterward. She's released a statement decrying the media focus on the case. In response to a regular narrative coursing through media and across the internet of people questioning why people stay in abusive relationships, a Twitter hashtag popped up: #WhyIStayed.
If you're asking that question at all, you should take the time to go read that hashtag, in which a parade of abuse survivors give their reasons for "staying." It's an example of what Twitter is best at: giving a voice to people, letting them speak for themselves, and amplifying lots of small voices into a large conversation. It's tough to read. But when that stream of terror and manipulation and sadness gets to be too much, go check out #WhenILeft.
If you're trying to get help or information on domestic violence, for yourself or someone you care about, try calling King County's great 24-hour Crisis Line at (206) 461-3222 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.