Disclaimer: This post mentions domestic violence and IPV (Intimate Partner Violence), which may be upsetting to some readers. This post is also being brought over to my current blog from my previous site, so it isn’t as up-to-date as the other issues I will be publishing.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about Ray Rice being released from his position on the Ravens. The running back, in case you’re not up to date, had his contract terminated due to a physical altercation with his wife that ended with her unconscious body being dragged from a hotel elevator.
Here’s what went down: the couple (then unmarried) were verbally fighting outside an elevator in their hotel. Rice was seen via security camera exiting the elevator, dragging the body of his girlfriend, Janay. This occurrence caused him suspension at the time, but when it hit major news outlets that it was an issue of domestic violence, his contract was almost immediately terminated. Another video emerged that showed Rice punching Janay, after she appeared to spit in his face. The emergence of the new video sent the media into a tailspin.
Perhaps the biggest aspect of this story drawing attention is that Janay has defended her husband, stating, “To take something away from the man that I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific…this is our life!”
Women in Janay’s situation are often harshly judged by the public, who question why a woman would stay in a relationship involving domestic abuse, a question which ultimately challenges whether there is actually any abuse to begin with. The sad truth is that situations such as this are much more complicated than just leaving, especially when “simply leaving” causes death in 75% of cases.
Before asking why we stay, we must first analyze what really goes on behind the scenes. Arising from this incident is a viral hashtag on Twitter, #WhyIStayed, in which women reveal the real reasons why they didn’t leave an abusive relationship. One woman said that when she tried, her partner slept in front of the front door to prevent her from leaving. Another stated that she didn’t know what a healthy relationship was, so she didn’t know how hers was not ideal.
Questions like these should not involve judgment of the abused, regardless of whether or not said party is a man or woman. We don’t ultimately know why Janay is adamantly defending her husband, but she is stated as saying, “I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night, but I can say I am happy that we continued to work through it together.” Regardless of her action, it didn’t warrant her husband’s physical response. At all.