Janay Rice stands by her man [Commentary]

Twitterverse tackles domestic violence

September 10, 2014|Susan Reimer

Janay Rice's comments in support of her husband Ray, tossed out of football by the Baltimore Ravens and the National Football League, have stoked the fires of outrage that have blazed since video surfaced Monday of him hitting her.

But this time, it is directed at her.

She posted a message to her followers on Instagram saying that she felt like she was living in a nightmare of loss and public humiliation, and she pledged that she and Rice would show the world that their love would survive.

"No one knows the pain that [the] media & unwanted options (sic) from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing," she wrote.

"THIS IS OUR LIFE!," she exclaimed. "If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you've succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is!"

Some responded on social media that she was a gold-digger who stayed with him for the big football paycheck and would now abandon his sorry, unemployed self.

Others concluded that she was using battered-wife speak and that her words made it clear this was not just a one-time blow-up after a night of heavy drinking. She had Stockholm syndrome.

But others asked, earnestly and sincerely, why didn't she walk away when it happened?

The question inspired a hashtag conversation on Twitter — which is apparently how we talk about important issues these days. One stream of comments was identified with #WhyIStayed, and the other #WhyILeft. And they were filled with pain and regret and courage.

"I couldn't face the fact that I was a textbook statistic," wrote one woman. "If (step)daddy hurts you, so will hubby."

"I had planned to escape for months before I even had a place to go and money for the bus to get there," wrote another.

"Because I thought I was a strong person who loved a damaged person and only I could help him."

Women said they stayed so the kids could have a dad, because being a good church girl meant you persevere and overcome, because they started to believe they deserved the abuse.

The confessions revealed all the obstacles women, or men, face if they want to leave an abusive relationship and how scarce help is for them. But the sheer volume of the confessions suggests that domestic abuse is a far more common — across all socio-economic groups — than we knew. Terrifyingly common.

Experts on the subject are filling the airways right now, and there is hope this very public disaster for the Rice family will serve some good end.

But I bet every one of those experts, if asked, would say that possibly the worst thing you can do to a family in this kind of crisis is to make the abuser unemployed and unemployable, which is exactly what the Ravens and the NFL have done.

They have not only taken away his livelihood — probably forever — but they have isolated him from his friends and teammates and banished him from an organization with the resources to help him and his family.

And, while we are at it, let's erase every evidence that he ever existed. Strip his image from the most popular football video game ever and buy back all his jerseys.

My God. It is like the team and the league would like nothing better than to push Ray Rice so far into despair that he removes himself as an irritant.

One more thought. There are players waiting in the hallway outside NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's office to be disciplined for domestic abuse. Heaven help them in this new zero-tolerance atmosphere.

Oh. Right. There is no video of those assaults.

Susan Reimer's column appears on Mondays and Thursdays. She can be reached at sreimer@baltsun.com and @SusanReimer on Twitter.com.

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