#WhyIStayed, Ctd

The powerful response to video footage of Ray Rice’s attack continues. An anonymous Daily Beast contributor tells her story:

Later, I took a photo of my eye with my cellphone, the skin around it still swollen, the whites streaked with popped red veins. “Never forget,” I said to myself as I snapped the shot. And I didn’t. I knew at that point I’d leave him someday, and that I’d know when the time was right. But it wasn’t then.

For months, I did my best to carry on while no therapy appointments were made, no grand apologetic gestures were offered. The memory of that night surfaced in our almost daily arguments. They escalated to yelling and name-calling, but never over the edge he’d crossed that one night. “It was a weird side effect of the cold medicine,” he told me once. “If you hadn’t pushed me…” he said another time. “Abusive husband?!” he’d laugh.

With the distance of time, I slowly lost my power, the gravity of the event getting lighter and lighter until it didn’t seem like a big deal even to me. But I felt like a phony; on the outside, a strong woman raising strong daughters, and yet secretly married to a man who I’d castrate with my own bare hands if my girls ended up with anyone like him.

Ex-NFL player Kyle Turley wants commissioner Roger Goodell gone:

Football players deserve a league that will do better than aiding and abetting violence against women. Nobody in the NFL likes to see domestic violence. Nobody wants it around. Everybody — I think even guys like Ray Rice — if they saw it happening, would stand up for women.

Unfortunately, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his brass chose not to stand up. Instead, they decided to deal with this situation behind closed doors. They hoped they wouldn’t be exposed. Without this video, even though we knew exactly what Ray Rice had done, the NFL never would have changed its ruling on his suspension, nor would he have been kicked off his team.

Andrew Sharp agrees:

If owners don’t really care about the NFL setting some grand standard for the rest of society, that’s totally fine. But Monday should scare them. If the NFL ever really loses supremacy in sports and culture, Monday is a good preview of what that looks like. The league will become such a mess that nobody can bring themselves to care about the actual games.

It may not be Goodell’s job to solve domestic violence, but it’s definitely his job to make sure that scenario doesn’t happen. At some point, shouldn’t it matter that he’s failing miserably?

Stacia L. Brown argues that “making an example of Ray Rice isn’t enough”:

The league should take this opportunity to implement accountability programs that work in concert with counseling professionals, team owners, coaches, fellow players, and the fans. Since viral video has changed the stakes and made it impossible to keep the community out of off-field scandals, why not find ways to involve us more? Less is known about domestic abuse prevention programs, aimed to treat and educate abusers, than about intimate partner violence protection centers for victims. The CDC’s Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Alliances (DELTA) describes its treatment model as one that addresses “the complex interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors, and allows [facilitators] to address risk and protective factors from multiple domains.”

DELTA programs emphasize that engagement with communities — rather than isolation from them — play a critical role in reducing instances of physical aggression … It may be too late for Ray Rice to serve as study participant in an NFL-facilitated program patterned at DELTA’s, but the league would do well to consider making its future approaches to “example-making” more symbiotic and less singular.


A trending hashtag is providing insight into why abuse victims stay with their abusers. Alex Abad-Santos spotlights the powerful tweets, which are a response to the Ray Rice video:

Looming over this violent act is the fact that Janay went on to marry the man who beat her — leading some people, most notably the anchors on Fox News’s Fox and Friends,  to wonder why she, and other abused women, wouldn’t just immediately flee an abusive relationship. They don’t, because it’s not that simple.

Hence the hashtag #whyistayed.

It was started by writer Beverly Gooden, who wrote, “I believe in storytelling. I believe in the power of shared experience. I believe that we find strength in community. That is why I created this hashtag.” It began trending on Twitter on Monday night, as women used the hashtag to explain the psychology and the reality of their domestic abuse situations — some thought it would get better, others didn’t have a place to turn, many felt shame, several wanted to keep the family together. The testimonies are powerful to read, and they shred the idea that it’s easy for victims to leave their abusers.

Olga Khazan rounds up #whyistayed tweets and research on domestic abuse:

In 1999, law professor and domestic violence survivor Sarah Buel offered up 50 obstacles to leaving, most of which remain unchanged. She points out that the end of the relationship can be just the start of the most serious threats. A battered woman is 75 percent more likely to be murdered when she tries to flee than if she stays.

Welfare is the major safety net for single moms, but its monthly benefit levels are far below living expenses for a family of three. In a study of Texas abuse victims who returned home, the number-one reason cited for returning was financial, Buel writes.

Sarah Kaplan adds another important detail:

The National Coalition for Prevention of Domestic Violence estimates that 25 percent of women experience intimate partner violence, and according to the National Domestic Abuse hotline, it takes an average of seven tries for a victim to leave an abusive relationship.

The types of tweets you will find over at #whyistayed:

Abuse In The Public Eye

Today new video surfaced of NFL player Ray Rice hitting his now-wife. Dara Lind provides the backstory:

In February, TMZ posted a video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his apparently unconscious then-fiancée (now his wife Janay Rice) from an elevator at the Revel casino in Atlantic City. The incident led to Ray Rice’s arrest for domestic violence, though he was assigned to a pre-trial diversion program rather than being charged with a crime. It also led him to receive a two-game suspension from the NFL. League commissioner Roger Goodell, after facing harsh criticism for the relatively light punishment (first-time marijuana offenders generally get suspended for more games), he announced a new, much stricter league domestic-violence policy in August.

But the original video didn’t show exactly what had happened inside the elevator, leaving an opening for Rice supporters to assume that he was acting in self-defense. Janay Rice apologized for her role in the incident, which seemed to confirm this suspicion. Now, TMZ has released a second video (warning: it’s very graphic) from inside the casino elevator. It shows Rice punching Palmer — and makes it clear that what happened wasn’t a “fight,” but an attack.

After the release of this new video, Rice’s contract was terminated. Jonathan Cohn hopes some good comes from this episode:

The footage is not easy to watch, but it shouldn’t be. Domestic violence is violent. Maybe if more people realize that, more people will take it seriously.

Dave Zirin disagrees with that line of reasoning:

[I]f no one is going to talk about the welfare of the person who is actually subjected to the violence on that tape, let’s talk about it here. I spent the morning communicating with people who work on issues involving domestic violence and violence against women nearly every day of their lives. They all said the same thing, without dissent: releasing this tape to the world is incredibly damaging to Janay Rice. Just as we would protect the name of an alleged rape victim, just as we would not show a video of Ray Rice committing a sexual assault, we should not be showing this video like it’s another episode of Rich People Behaving Badly. If Janay Rice wanted to show this tape to the world, in other words if she had offered her consent, that is a different matter. But showing and reshowing it just because we can is an act of harm.

Josh Marshall is not settled on the ethics of showing images of domestic violence. But he does “have a general stance against those who think news reporters should be in the business of not reporting certain things to advance various purportedly good ends”:

Two examples. Recently we have used still photos from the videos of the beheadings of the two American reporters by ISIS. Not stills of the actual killings but from the parts before that happens. Like many other press organizations, we’ve never published the videos themselves. In recent days I’ve heard from a number of readers who’ve said we should not be publishing any of these photos, even in stories which directly relate to the videos themselves because this is somehow too upsetting or doing ISIS’s work for it.

Similarly, I know there’s a move afoot to refrain from publishing the names of mass shooters on the theory that this just gives them the notoriety they crave and which led to their atrocities. I disagree. These killings are facts. The ISIS beheadings are facts. There’s no reason to publish imagery of mutilated bodies. But within certain bounds, these things happened. And withholding critical information about what happened just doesn’t make sense. I’d go further and say that it’s actually wrong. Ugly things happen. We shouldn’t play games about reporting them. We shouldn’t get into mind-games about what a mass murderer might or might not have wanted. Journalists should just focus on doing their jobs.

Meanwhile, Coates thinks the “idea that it took today’s release to understand the gravity of things is insupportable.” He feels the NFL is simply in damage control mode:

The league suspended Rice for a meager two games for knocking his wife unconscious. The league now propose to suspend him indefinitely for….the same thing. This suspension only indirectly relates to the protecting women. It mostly relates to protecting the shield.

The NFL Tackles Domestic Violence

by Dish Staff

The NFL announced (NYT) a new policy yesterday:

N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday that he had mishandled the Ray Rice case, in which the Baltimore Ravens running back was suspended for two games after being accused of assaulting his fiancée. … Goodell said that effective immediately any N.F.L. employee — not only a player — who is found to have engaged in assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involved physical force will be suspended without pay for six games for a first offense. Second-time offenders will be banished from the league for at least one year.

Ian Crouch states, reasonably enough, that “Thursday’s announcement should be the beginning of the N.F.L.’s response to domestic violence, not the end”:

The players need to be involved in the league’s attempts to combat violence against women, not simply as the potential recipients of fines and suspensions but as participants in its prohibition and enforcement.

In a recent column for ESPN, Jane McManus argued that owners and players should insert regulations relating to violence and sexual assault directly into the collective-bargaining agreement. (The current one doesn’t expire until 2021, but this particular change could be made without opening the entire document up for renegotiation.) The C.B.A. already includes rules against taking performance-enhancing drugs and driving while intoxicated. Adding the kinds of punishments that Goodell introduced today to a document that both players and owners have signed on to would demonstrate that all sides appreciate the seriousness of the problem within their own ranks, and also that they recognize the N.F.L.’s opportunity, as a major part of the culture, to be not just an object lesson but an advocate for change.

Kavitha A. Davidson’s take:

This came about purely because of the sustained backlash against the league’s paltry two-game suspension of Ray Rice, and despite numerous attempts to defend itself while hiding behind the lack of a comprehensive domestic violence policy. As [Jessica] Luther notes, this also means that the NFL must have talked and actually listened to advocacy groups that tout prevention over punishment. This happened because feminists, and especially feminist sportswriters including Luther and Jane McManus (who brilliantly outlined how the commish could get domestic violence written into the league’s disciplinary measures) simply wouldn’t go away.

She adds that, “Instead of patting Goodell on the back for his far-too-late admission that he “got it wrong,” we need to stay on his case to make sure he actually gets it right.” Last but not least, Alyssa Rosenberg considers how the NFL treats women more generally. She admits, “Being a female sports fan can be a difficult thing”:

There are little indignities, like the cheesy pink gear that suggests our enthusiasms are second to our wardrobe choices. There are bigger ones, like the ongoing employment of scantily-clad cheerleaders to act as inducement to presumptively straight male players and eye candy for presumptively straight, male crowds. And to add injury to irritant, these women are subject to wage theft and degrading employment conditions.

And beyond that, there is the challenge of the players themselves. It is one thing to think that bad men can make great art, or that bad men can throw beautiful spiral passes or lay down devastating hits. It is another to root for men who occasionally act in ways that suggest that they think women are garbage, or that the truest way for a woman to be a fan is to be sexually available. I hesitate a little every time I buy a new Patriots jersey, worried that the man whose name I emblazon across my back might end up acting in a way that casts shame on my enthusiasm for him. Most of the time, I pick out gear with nobody’s name on the back.