Accountability and Public Opinion

Disturbing footage of NFL player, Ray Rice knocking his then fiance unconscious on an elevator earlier this year. I cannot share the video because it made me extremely uncomfortable and triggered memories that I do not wish to relive. I am actually not shocked that media outlets would exploit someone's pain and embarrassment for page traffic. That is just one of the issues that I have with this story.

I spent a little bit of time today reading the comments posted under the vide. As expected, people lost sight of the real issue, assault. We witnessed a crime followed by bad press and lack of punishment--instead people focused their attention on the victim questioning her integrity. Questioning why she would go ahead and marry Rice and support him during

Hmmm... I can speculate on a few things. Knowing how intimate partner violence works, it doesn't seem like the elevator incident and as unfortunate as it is, it probably was not the last incident. What I can relate to is the shame and embarrassment and the headache she woke up with the next day after being knocked unconscious. I can relate to the hesitation she will feel when reporting the next incident. Next time it will be a lot harder for her to seek help. She will remember the video circulating the net, the blogs, and internet trolls. She will also remember all of the ignorant comments calling her stupid, dumb, "black ****", golddigger, idiot and of course the "oh well, she got what she deserved for jumping in his face".

Instead of trying to understand why the then-fiancé decided to marry Rice, we need to focus on accountability and deterring violence by real consequences. Domestic violence is a complex issue--the victim requires support if and when they decide to leave the relationship. The facts state that relationship abuse claims the lives of 4 women a day. The facts also state that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime, equaling to approximately 12 million Americans per year.

On average it takes up to 8 times for an individual to leave the relationship. There are financial burdens, children involved, emotional ties, lack of support, legal issues, and the fear of safety that make the idea of just walking away nearly impossible. I have had the chance to speak with other battered women and some say they left the relationship on their eighth attempt; it took me 7, 8 or 9 attempts.

It takes a heap of support and courage to leave an abusive relationship. Also, the most dangerous time of the relationship is when you try to leave the abuser. They realize that your are claiming your life as your own and their days of manipulation, control, and threats are coming to an end. For the all of the domestic violence related homicides in the United States, 75 percent of the victims were killed while fleeing or after the relationship has ended.

On December 22, 2010 I walked into the precinct for the first time ever to report an attempt on my life and three years of abuse. I was accompanied by my best friend, aunt, cousin, and grandparents while I stayed on the phone with my mother. They left behind their judgment and blame--I probably would not have ever made it to that precinct without them. Many domestic violence related cases go unreported and both the abuser and victim are left without the resources needed to move forward.

Today TMZ released a video of Ray Rice assaulting his then fiancé, now wife. This early afternoon the Baltimore ravens announced (via Twitter) that they were releasing him form the organization and later he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. Today the NFL succumbed to the pressure by the public and the horrendous truth in the video and Ray Rice was finally held accountable for his actions.