As much as it turns our stomachs that Janay Rice has chosen to forgive her (then Fiancé and now husband) Ray Rice for punching her so hard in the face that she was knocked out cold and him then dragging her limp body like a corpse out of a hotel elevator earlier this year, she has that right to forgive him. That choice is hers and hers alone. Even when we are sad for her, plead with her to leave him, tell her she could have died in that elevator, only Janay can leave Rice, and as her recent statement has made clear, she has no intention of doing so. It’s heartbreaking, and it happens all too often in domestic abuse situations. The cycle of abuse. The victim blames themselves, takes their partner back, believes their lies and believes them when they say they’re sorry, or when they say it’s not going to happen again, or is scared of their abuser’s threats, scared to be out on the street without a roof over their heads, or for whatever reason, they stay.
Janay was the victim in this situation, first and foremost. I hope that she has family support at home. I hope they can get counselling both together and separately. I hope she really can lead a happy life and he doesn’t do this again. I hope he doesn’t kill her, because he really could have, and in many domestic abuse cases, this is where it eventually can lead if she doesn’t leave.
That being said, despite her personal forgiveness and her statement pleading with the Ravens and the media, she does not have to power and autonomy to decide his fate legally and by the hands of the NFL and the Ravens.
I’m not really a fan of football, but I know enough about sports and organizations to know there is a code of conduct. Don’t laugh; these guys often get away with a lot, but the Ravens have decided that Rice’s actions have warranted his dismissal. Albeit, it was months later than it should have happened, but thanks to TMZ releasing the video, they no longer could pretend they didn’t understand how it looked when a man in the NFL knocked a woman out cold. I mean, let’s pretend we didn’t see the video. What did they think it looked like when a man strong enough to run on a field daily with the most athletic and brutal men in the nation punched a woman in the face and dropped her to the floor unconscious. None of us imagined a little tap, and there were plenty of witnesses after the fact who could have attested to what she looked like in that hotel hallway.
But there are two separate issues here: 1) Janay Rice as an unfortunate victim of domestic abuse, and 2) Ray Rice being fired from the Ravens football team for his actions in the attack.
The Ravens giving Ray Rice the boot has nothing to do with whether Janay has forgiven him or not, whether she has now lost her share of his NFL salary and most certainly everything to do with Ray Rice punching a woman in the face. She does not have the power to accept and forgive his behavior on behalf of the NFL, or us, consumers of professional football.
I’ve heard people say that Janay loses out (financially, socially, etc.) with his dismissal. Even Janay in her statement has expressed displeasure with this mess and the Ravens decision interfering with their life together, but it still remains that Ray acted how no man should act, and he should pay the consequences of his actions, whether Janay Rice wishes him to or not.