Dig Baton Rouge

The Bitter Lemon: Domestic Violence

By Holly A. Phillips

“If he were in a boxing ring, we’d all be singing a different tune, but this was a person delivering a clean left hook to his then-fiancee.”

“Ho-ly sh*t!” It was a slow-motion yell coming from my mouth around 6am.

I was watching HLN, and they’d just aired the entire, now-infamous, elevator video involving Janay and Ray Rice.

I don’t have much interest in NFL football, so I wasn’t paying much attention to the scandal, until I saw it.

If Ray Rice were in a boxing ring, we’d all be singing a different tune, but this was a person delivering a clean left hook to his then-fiancee. Worthy of a championship belt, his punch sent Janay toward the elevator handrail, delivering a second blow that knocked her unconscious.

It was then that I realized I, like most people, wasn’t aware of the seriousness of domestic violence.

While I’ve never been in a physically abusive relationship, I wouldn’t say I haven’t dated someone who thought about hitting me.

When I was a senior in high school, a family member’s wife tried to choke him with her bare hands. For months afterward, I lived in fear she would eventually kill him. Thankfully, he got out before things got worse.

According to the website for Iris Domestic Violence Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is second in the nation for homicides related to domestic abuse.

If you’ve never been abused, or manipulated, it’s difficult to understand why Janay would not only stay in the relationship, but would marry him the day after he was charged with a 3rd degree felony of aggravated assault (against her).

When I heard Janay’s apology to the media, my heart broke for her. She said she was “sorry for the role she played.”

What role? Being a beautiful woman? Taking the elevator and not the stairs? Saying something that pissed off Ray?

The Ravens’ Twitter account was quick to Tweet Janay’s apology, because blaming her is an easy out for the NFL, of course.

Note that Ray also apologized to the media, but not (publicly) to Janay.

Sadly, she is a woman who’s been knocked around (literally and figuratively) to the point where she believes that’s all she deserves.

And there are some people who stand by Ray and say, “Maybe she asked for it.”

No woman asks to be knocked unconscious by a man she loves.

According to an ESPN.com article, Janay and Ray were celebrating Valentine’s Day on the night the incident happened.

What a way to cap off the party – with a 212-pound beast dragging his unconscious love across the carpet.

That same article stated that in June, Ray told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that he hit Janay, and “knocked her out.” Janay then asked Goodell, “Not to impose a penalty on Rice that would take away their livelihood.”

I’m all for standing by your man. But to stand by him after he punched you? I get it, money, love, abuse — it’s all a tangled mess.

She could be staying for fear of her life, or because of money, or perhaps she’s planning her escape route right this second.

Janay is one of nearly 4 million women in an abusive relationship right this moment. With all eyes on her, she has the rare power to stand up for herself and say, “No, I don’t deserve this.”

But that is something she has to decide.

If there is a silver lining to the Rice incident, it’s that domestic violence is at the forefront of the conversation more than ever.

And if Janay won’t say it, I will: no woman deserves to be treated like that.

Read more about troublesome relationships on Holly’s blog, TheBitterLemon.com. 

Dealing With Violence

Resources for Victims of Domestic Abuse:

1. It’s Not You- Abuse is not the victim’s fault and can only be stopped by the abuser.

2. It’s a Crime– Domestic violence is illegal, just like any other crime, and victims can be protected by the law.

3. Get Help- If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship, call the Capital Area 24-hour Crisis Line at 225.389.3001.

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