Ray and Janay Rice back in the spotlight

What does that mean for domestic violence victims?

With Ray Rice’s suspension overturned, his family is once again in the spotlight. Janay Rice spoke with Matt Lauer this morning on the Today Show, and some of her comments will spark discussions. We wanted to share our thoughts.

While Ray Rice’s suspension was overturned, that doesn’t change the fact that he abused his then girlfriend, who is now his wife.  Is it possible for him to change?  Yes, if he accepts complete responsibility for his actions and actively participates in a qualified, reputable batterer’s intervention program. If the #NFL chose to treat this incident casually at the time, advocates will be watching to see how they proceed in the future.  Much like batterers, the key is for the NFL to accept full responsibility for their actions with no excuses.

Janay’s mother, Candy Palmer, was with her during the Today Show interview. Ms. Palmer told Matt Lauer she felt it was unfair that Janay became the face of domestic violence, a statement with which Janay agreed.

No one wants to be the face for domestic violence.  Women, either openly or secretly, believe the abuse is their fault or they bear the burden of blame.  Who would want that to be your public face – one of embarrassment and shame?  In reality, this is not Janay’s fault and women who are victimized are not to blame.  If Janay wants to help Ray Rice, she should hold him accountable.

Holding your abuser accountable is incredibly difficult in any situation, so we understand Janay’s hesitancy to do so on a national stage with the world watching.  However, her statement makes all domestic violence victims question the legitimacy of their victimization. That makes the education and awareness provided by organizations like SafeHaven even more crucial.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call our 24-hour hotline, 1.877.701.SAFE (7233).