The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out. [Thomas Babington Macaulay]
Good morning. You've undoubtedly heard about (currently former) Baltimore Raven football player Ray Rice and that horrendous video that surfaced Monday on TMZ of him knocking out cold his then-fiancee Janay. He's been kicked off the NFL team, banned from the CFL and the story is far from over. Questions are loud and persistent about just how long the NFL knew about this awful case of abuse, having earlier seen some video (but not the most damning they claim) and only suspending him for two games. Just to give it some context, a player named Josh Gordon got a one year suspension for smoking pot, which - if he played in Denver - would be legal.
Apart from the video, the dereliction of justice and possible willful ignorance on the part of the multi-billion dollar industry that is the NFL, the most disgusting thing to come out of this crime has been the backlash against Janay for marrying her abuser a short time after this damning video was captured on cameras inside and outside of the New Jersey hotel elevator.
Some of the posts on our own CHFI Facebook page have been stunningly awful and perplexing. Eventually I gave up trying to hide the worst ones (including the one from a woman who called her a ""dumb b*tch"") so as to let the Facebook community have its own discussion and (hopefully) enlighten a few of the posters. It was against my better judgment, but if this is a forum where people are to discuss pertinent and topical issues, then they have to be allowed without board administrators acting as playground monitor - at least until it gets way out of hand. Foul language is the first thing that'll get a post hidden, but there are, of course, other circumstances.
This one, however, was taken down by the person who posted it. I happened to copy it first and wanted to share it (anonymously) so that I could give you a good clear look at the other side of the coin. She wrote:
This is certainly NOT a good example for women. A man abused a woman, his work finds out about it and he is suspended but the woman still goes on to marry him. Now that he has lost his job and won't be bringing in the money will she divorce him? Seems to say if a rich man beats you it is o.k. to stay with him.
I responded that she'd inspired me to share a series of texts that a dear friend sent to me yesterday - then her post disappeared. (God help me, I know I'm not supposed to have an opinion most of the time. That's not an edict from my bosses; it's my own deep-seated need to not tick off a valued listener. And most of the people are our listeners. But sometimes I can't let garbage just sit on a page that bears the letters that mean the world to me: C-H-F-I. So with plenty of editing and rewrites, I will eventually, occasionally share what's on my mind, too.)
Before I share those texts, I need you to read this. It's from thinkprogress.org and I found it particularly germane to the discussion about Janay Rice.
In fact, according to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, the victims who leave their abusers are actually in even greater danger than they were before. Statistically, separating from an abuser increases a victim's risk of being killed by 75 percent. Black women specifically account for a disproportionate number of intimate partner homicides, and half of these victims are killed while they're in the process of leaving their abuser.
On top of the physical risk, there are countless other well-documented reasons why domestic violence victims struggle to break the cycle of abuse. Many of them are financially dependent on their abuser. They often have kids or other familial expectations to consider. Many victims don't want the relationship to end; they want the violence to end, and their abuser has given them hope that it will. Women of color in particular may resist seeking legal protection because they're more worried about how the police will treat their partner than they are about their own safety within the relationship.
I posted the link to that story on our CHFI Facebook yesterday afternoon, just as the #1 trending topic on Twitter was "Janay Rice". People are jumping in to ask why, if she forgives her husband, everyone else shouldn't? The article above (click the link to read it in its entirety) explains a lot of it.
And so does this text from my friend. Abuse is everywhere. We don't need to judge, we just need to help. How anyone dares ask why she stayed with him or accuses her of just being in it for the money, is mind boggling to me. I'm thankful, though, that we're talking about this dark (but far too common) element of our society today. Let's keep the conversation going. Now here's that text:
As you know I have experienced domestic violence and as you repeatedly said this video footage is horrific as all such actions are but the attention it has brought out to the problem and how it is perceived is so necessary ... Why do the women or the victims stay (for it is not just a heterosexual problem) is a VERY complicated question and points to the importance of shelter awareness AND an understanding that there is help out there and that you are not to blame. No one should ever be treated like this and we as a community must do all we can to reach out and gently let those victims know that they are worth our compassion... Our help. Some people don't know what services are available and though there should be more let's support what is already established. Today I will contact Ernestines and I will make an additional donation to thank them for being there. I never went to a shelter ... I didn't know how and am so happy that I might be making a difference in one person's life by making it more available and you and Mike are making such a difference by talking about this horrific topic.
Thank you...and here's a way to make a difference or learn more. The Canadian Women's Foundation has answers (and shelters like the wonderful Ernestine's here in Toronto) and you can go to canadianwomen.org for more information.