That’s right, how we value humanity. What Ray Rice did was reprehensible and criminal. His use of domestic violence and the resulting consequences underscore what I often say in this blog: We need to value human life.
I won’t judge his wife, Janay, for staying with him or marrying him. Domestic violence situations are more complicated that just telling someone to leave. Leaving isn’t always an option. For more insight, see these eye-opening tweets under the hashtag #whyIstayed .
When I watched the video, I saw two people on a dangerously violent path. Rice pays the public price because he has a contract in place, while Janay becomes the subject of victim-shaming for her actions. I’m not sure which punishment is worse at this point.
Domestic violence comes in many forms. And just like when I wrote about the suicide of Robin Williams, there are signs we can all look for to help prevent more victims. I will share these at the end so you can find more information and resources.
Domestic violence, much like sexual assault, is about power and control. The abuser gains that control in various combinations of emotional/verbal and physical abuse. To break free of this is a monumental and dangerous task for any victim (and there are male victims as well) and often requires outside help and continued support. Imagine how much harder that would be if there at children in the relationship as well.
But I’m not here to join the bandwagon and bash Ray Rice, Janay, or the NFL. I’m here to remind all of us that, when we see signs of domestic violence or abuse, that we take the appropriate action.
I’m willing to bet that someone in there lives saw these signs before the incident in Atlantic City. I hope that person spoke up. Maybe there was no one to speak up, but that usually isn’t the case.
We’ve become afraid. Although we claim to want to protect certain groups of people, we are still afraid, sometimes, to do the right thing. I get it – we’re human and not perfect. Fear is a great paralyzer. Some of us are afraid to get into someone else’s business; that it’s a problem only between the couple fighting. We are afraid of being wrong and having people mad at us.
All of the above thoughts are valid fears but we must put them in perspective when it comes to the safety of another person. Your action or inaction may mean the difference between life and death. Yes, it’s that serious, and, in my opinion, worth someone getting mad at me for making sure someone is alright and safe.
Yesterday, someone in the neighborhood, who knows I write this blog, asked my opinion on the situation. He was expecting an opinion and the Ray Rice’s firing and who knew what and when. Instead, I asked about before Atlantic City. I asked about what the video doesn’t show and what we couldn’t hear. I asked what would he have done if he had seen signs of domestic violence as a friend of Rice. I asked him what our responsibility is to each other in community and as human beings.
In the end, this man decided he was only willing to step in and call the police in certain situations. While a little disappointed with his conclusion, he reminded me of just how unaware we are and how we can easily rationalize minding our own business. But, more than just giving me an understanding of his mindset, he said, out loud, what he was really thinking and I got to see how that was based on traumatic, violent events of his own childhood watching his parents show violence toward each other.
I know it’s hard to overcome fear and take action, but isn’t that something to pray about? Do the thing you fear and it will, eventually, go away. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, so that tells me if I’m in a position to help in some way, that I can handle it.
It all starts with a basic agreement that all life is sacred and we are all in a position to help keep true to that belief. And if that is what we truly believe, then we should take that seriously and start looking out for each other. Remember Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan and we will have a place to start. Pray God gives you the strength to overcome fear and do what is right, though it may be hard. And pray for not only the victims, but the abusers.
As promised, here are some resources and information for you or anyone you may know in a domestic violence situation:
Questions to ask in order to determine if the relationship is safe (the warning signs I mentioned) from TurnAround’s website:
1. Has this person ever hit you, pushed you, thrown objects at you, or otherwise displayed violent outbursts directed toward you?
2. Has this person ever been violent toward former dating partners?
3. Does this person become verbally or physically abusive when under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
4. Does this person often berate you or put you down (even in front of others) in order to feel superior?
5. Does this person become extremely upset when you do things without his (or her) permission, or when you reject his (or her) presumed authority?
6. Does this person resent you for having friends of your own or try to control your friendships?
7. Does this person threaten to harm your friends if you continue seeing them or if they try to help you?
8. Does this person hold in low regard members of the opposite sex, but say that you are special?
9. Does this person seem to feel better when you fail?
10. Has this person ever forced you or manipulated you into having sex when it was against your wishes?
*If your partner displays any of these behaviors, chances are you are not in a safe relationship.