The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Ramona's picture

    He Hit Her. And She Went Down

    The big domestic story this week is the suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice after a video surfaced showing him inside an elevator punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, so hard he knocks her out cold.  She falls on the floor, unconscious, and when the elevator door opens he is seen dragging her out of the elevator, kicking her to get her dead weight away from the doors, never once seeming to worry about the fact that she is not moving.

    This happened months ago, in February, and when the first video came to light--the one where he is seen dragging her out of the elevator, kicking her, etc.--the NFL gave the bad boy a slap on the wrist; a two-game suspension.  Yesterday a new video came out showing the actual knock-out punch.  Now it's a fact.  This guy, Ray Rice, hit a woman--the woman who loves him--so hard she fell to the floor, unconscious.  He hit her that hard.

    Let me repeat:  He hit her hard enough to knock her out.  And then he dragged her--dragged her--out of the door.  He did not try to awaken her or comfort her or appear to be the least bit concerned.

    That's the story we should be talking about, but instead the big story is that, even after that, the woman who says she loves him went on to marry him and is now defending him and blaming the media for ruining their lives.  She has a problem, no doubt, and every one of us hopes she comes to her senses and leaves this jerk right now.  But it's her abuser who has the bigger problem.

    He can't get away from who his is.  He can make excuses and promise never to do it again.  (Which, in Rice's case, he hasn't done--at least not publicly.  At his press conference, he apologized to the NFL, to his fellow players, to his fans, to everyone except his wife--the woman he knocked out cold in the elevator.) He can agree to some sort of counseling and he may even do it.  But in the end, he is in charge of his ability to care enough about another human being so as not to do her harm.  He, and only he, can control himself.

    Nearly everyone who has been involved in abusive relationships--the victims themselves or the clinicians who care for them--have said, on seeing the tape, that this is not a one-time "mistake".  Rice's careless disposal of this woman, his fiancee, rendered unconscious by the application of his fist to her face, indicates a history of violence.

    He is the problem.  She is the victim.  If she decides to seek help, there will be many experts ready to help her.  If she's lucky, she'll break the bonds that attached her to a violent abuser and her life will take a new and better turn.

    But Ray Rice will still have to live with himself.  He will either have to come to terms with the horror of what he has done or he will go on insisting, even to himself, that he didn't mean to do it, that they were both angry, that she lunged at him, she spit at him, and what could he do?  That for that split second he was out of control and it'll never happen again.  That this isn't who he is.

    Every abuser believes this.  Every abuser has to believe this, because anyone who systematically uses fists or a weapon to injure someone weaker is living in the body of a monster.  And nobody wins when the monster wins.

    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)


    Commissioner Goddell focused more on protecting the brand (the NFL shield)  than addressing the abuse problem. There are three active NFL players with abuse charges. The NFL knew there was video from inside the elevator that would come out.  They knew that the prosecutor would likely not release the tape because of an active investigation. They knew that a punch had been thrown, then feigned horror when the tape was released. Rice got a two- week suspension. Marijuana got someone a six-week suspension.

    The NFL has a head trauma problem. Players are/ were seriously damaged by collision speeds during play. The NFL dodges responsibly and has set up a study tof head trauma to provide cover.

    Given the domestic abuse response and the issue of head trauma, fewer mothers will let their sons play football.The NFL is trying a "Head Up Football" program to convince mothers that things have changed because head trauma is less likely. The program won't work.

    On the collegiate level, players are demanding that they get paid. Small schools will drop programs. 

    The future of football looks pretty bleak. I say this while noting the Baltimore Ravens are the only sports team that I really follow.


    Edit to add 

    The NFL does not care about  the players, the spouses, or animal abuse in the case of Mike Vick. Ricky Incognito the guy who terrorized a teammate in Miami is still allowed to play in the NFL. 

    In the case of Rice, what the H-E-double hockey sticks was the prosecutor thinking? Rice got a wrist slap there as well.

    You've shone light on why the story is an especially interesting example. It's the videotape evidence. The culture of denial that goes along with domestic abuse is dependent upon the privacy of the home and the subsequent "he said, she said." When everyone can see what happened, the denial function doesn't work. Also here the victim feels violated again by the public disclosure of her private world, one she wasn't ready to reveal, so it makes her feel even more powerless. It would be a different situation if she had been the one who released the tape.

    You're so right, AA.  When we hear these horrific stories most of us don't want to believe them.  Who could do this kind of thing?  The victims themselves don't want to believe they've hooked up with a monster and so will do anything to keep from facing it.

    We need to make domestic violence a felony.  We need to stop making excuses for the perpetrator.  We need to stop blaming the victims.  Accepting violence as a part of a relationship is weird enough when the people involved do the accepting.  It's bizarre and downright evil when total strangers, including the cops and the courts, turn their backs on the horror of it.

    Boxer Floyd Mayweather agrees that the NFL overreacted by suspending Rice indefinitely. Mayweather is somewhat of an expert on domestic abuse having spent two-months in jail in 2012.

    Okay, that HuffPo piece was just weird.

    Seems to me, Americans are quite an abusive lot ... guns, physical abuse, verbal abuse, financial abuse, governmental abuse and so forth.


    I've been in Europe for 10 years now and it all seems so foreign to me as if I'm a stranger in the land where I was born and raised. Every once in a while I'll feel an anger knotting me up, but the strange looks I get from others is a clue it shows and is not acceptable conduct to display in public. The " ugly american " is still inside me, but is tightly wrapped up so as not to embarrass me with the community in which I now live.


    I suspect the community is so tightly interwoven, ugly non-social traits have been weeded out over the years so every one is able to live with civility and harmony.  And that what may be missing in the US.


    Because the US is a melting pot, there's way too many social norms that conflict and is difficult to judge when they're appropriate and when they're not. One neighbor does one thing, another one does another thing and the neighbor across the street has a completely different method. So without a focal point for reference, it's dicey what to do, when to do it and where. Couple that with the migratory drifting Americans have in pulling up their roots and moving to other places, just makes it more difficult to get a sense of what normal social actions are.


    What I'm trying to say is Rice's actions may have drifted over the line for the social norms of the area, but it may have been a social norm from where he came from. I'm not saying he did nothing wrong ...just that it might have been acceptable social norms for him to follow. Which falls back on what I said about conflicting social norms ... in some areas it's wrong and in others it's allowed ... it's all based on how others in your social group accept your actions.


    Europe has been doing it for a few thousand years so they have a handle on what is a social norm to follow and are tolerant if you step over the line, but expect you to learn from your mistakes. But I suspect that will never fly in the US ... seeing how driving rules are so different in every state as well as educational standards. Americans pride themselves and being unique ... and that's why there's so much gun violence, physical and verbal abuse and so forth.

    I would argue that the topic of this thread has little to do with what you are talking about, though it is an interesting topic.

    Twelve women a day are killed by men in Europe
    by Roberta Lunghini, July 31, 2014

    ....Which, making reference to a recent UN study, reminds that lethal domestic violence accounts for almost 28% of all intentional homicides in Europe. Women are more likely than men to be killed by people close to them: while intimate partner or family-related abuse is responsible for 18% of all male homicides, the number rises to 55% when it comes to women. But it is important to point out that violence against women is not limited to inter-partner and family relationships. As shown by a representative survey published last March by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), one in five women (22%) has experienced physical violence by someone other than their partner since the age of 15....

    For feminists, the news coming out of France the last couple years about the reality of many women's lives there, rather than the myths, makes the U.S. still a preferable place to be of the female gender in general. Though it must be said that French culture in general finally seems to be taking the criticism seriously instead of joking it off as they long did, and they are trying hard to finally rectify some of that, including this:

    Slight improvements in the French fight against domestic violence
    by Annalisa Lista - 2014.05.08

    More here:

    Violence against Women: every day and everywhere


    A new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) presents results from the world’s biggest-ever survey on violence against women, revealing the extent of abuse suffered by women at home, work, in public and online. As well as demonstrating the wide prevalence of violence against adult women, the report also details incidents of physical and sexual violence experienced by women in childhood.
    Results: .....

    Seriously, are we still at this point? Don't we know how women being abused by their partners talk?

    Yes, she says she loves him and he loves her. Almost every victim says this. Go to Family Court and you'll hear earfuls about how much in love everyone is.

    That doesn't mean we get to tell Janay Rice what reality is, or tell her what HER reality is. Only she can decide when it's time to leave. Victims don't get out until they are ready to get out, and only they can decide when that is. It is frustrating to watch. But there is no way to help her to leave. Only she can leave.

    But at the same time, Janay Rice doesn't get to tell us that we don't understand. Or she can. But we'd be worse than fools to take her word. We can see what we see, and the rest of us are obliged to act on it. We don't have to watch Ray on TV because she tells us to. We can make up our minds about him.

    Yes. And we should demand high standards for high paid athletes. If they behave like street thugs then they are not worthy to play professionally.    

    Good thing one of these girls wasn’t his date

    He would have regretted trying to throw a punch, It would have been him on the elevator floor.  

    It is interesting that Oscar Pistorius had a history of domestic abuse but was found not guilty of murder after shooting his girlfriend 4 times. The judge ruled that he didn't "mean" to kill her.

    He does face up to 15 years for manslaughter. Maybe if we had pictures things would have been different (snark)

    Latest Comments