With the release of a grainy security camera video yesterday, TMZ made a mockery of the Baltimore Ravens, the Atlantic County prosecutor and the NFL. As if the domestic violence incident wasn’t bad enough, the attempted cover-up, or whitewashing of the facts in the case, is a slap in the face to women everywhere.
The numbers are staggering. 1 in 3 U.S. women have experienced physical violence, rape and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. 81% of women who experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) reported at least one health-related or other impact. $8.3 billion. That’s the cost of IPV in medical, mental health services and lost productivity costs alone each year.*
Unfortunately, these numbers are also impressive and far more important in some circles. Ray Rice’s jersey ranked #28 in the entire NFL in the last fiscal year. The running back has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 4 out of the past 5 seasons, and he was enjoying a 5 year / $35 million contract, including $22 million in guaranteed money before being released yesterday. In other words, he’s a superstar.
Whether the NFL or any other party had seen the latest video is irrelevant. They knew the facts of what happened on that awful night, and according to TMZ, they never requested the security video from the hotel/casino. (Yes, I just referenced TMZ as a news resource. Unfortunately, they seem to be the most reputable source in this debacle.) What kind of investigation did the NFL — or the Atlantic County prosecution — conduct?
What really amazes me is the Baltimore Ravens’ response. The team held a press conference seemingly to minimize the seriousness of the situation and let the whole world know that Janay Rice was at least partially to blame. The following tweet has since been deleted from the Ravens’ official Twitter account.
Screenshot courtesy of Mediaite.com
Remember, you can never truly delete a tweet or post. It lives forever somewhere online and could serve to pop up at the most inopportune time. Think before you tweet, especially from an official brand account.
Shortly following the release of the most recent video, the Baltimore Ravens released Ray Rice, and the NFL indefinitely suspended him, which are far more appropriate actions than the initial discipline — a 2 game suspension. Two games for punching a person in the face, knocking her head against an elevator so hard that she was rendered unconscious, dragging her out of the elevator and through the lobby like a bag of trash (while still unconscious) and spitting on her. Yet a player who tests positive for marijuana can be suspended for the whole year. What kind of image does that send?
The only good news that has come out of the backlash generated by this disturbing situation is the NFL’s much tougher stance on domestic violence. A first offense receives a 6-game suspension without pay, and a second offense is punished with a lifetime ban. The policy applies to all NFL personnel, including executives and coaches, but there is a caveat that allows multiple time offenders to apply for reinstatement after one year. Is it tough enough or overboard?
How far will the fallout of this incident and cover-up reach? The Baltimore Ravens’ front office? NFL commissioner Roger Goodell? The Atlantic County prosecutor’s office? Who knew what when? Why was Ray Rice given such a light punishment — by the league and legally — before this video leaked?
“[Roger Goodell’s] push to increase NFL punishment of domestic abusers to roughly one-third that of repeat pot smokers, his decision today to suspend Rice indefinitely after the Ravens had fired him are elements of classic tragedy wherein the right thing is finally done only after it is too late to matter. Roger Goodell’s existence, who he is, what he has turned the NFL Commissioner’s office into is now symbolized by Ray Rice’s brutal left hand striking Janay Palmer, and striking her again. Mr. Goodell is an enabler of men who beat women. His position within the National Football League is no longer tenable.” –Keith Olbermann, ESPN talk show host
My only hope is that someone, or multiple women out there, who are suffering from domestic violence will see the ugliness of this incident and make the choice to get help for their own situation. It’s so easy to blame the victim in domestic violence situations, but women stay in abusive relationships for a number of reasons. If you want to hear from real women on why they stayed, just browse the #WhyIStayed hashtag on Twitter. Thank you to everyone who continues to share their stories and encourage others to get help.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from domestic violence abuse, please call 1.800.799.7233 or visit a local shelter. Don’t become another statistic. You’re worth so much more.
Sadly, I agree.
A disappointed NFL fan,
*Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) statistics courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention