To Ray Rice’s wife: stop domestic violence

September 10, 2014


Stop Domestic Violence, Mrs. Rice.

When a professional football player cold-cocks a woman, that is not “mutual combat.”

It’s not acceptable, either.

Your public defense of your husband is understandable. He’d gotten on a $43 million gravy train and he didn’t want it to stop.  Maybe you didn’t want it to stop, either.  It’s understandable.

But it’s not acceptable.

I don’t really feel sorry for you. Oh, I’m sorry you got knocked out. But no, I’m not sorry that your gravy train may have derailed.

I’m sorry you’re married to –and defending–an abuser.  But no, I’m not sorry that you may have to find another way to make money.

When people act in violent and even criminal ways, as your husband did, there must be consequences.

Even though the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens took action only because their backs were against the wall.

This knockout happened in February and Rice was slapped on the wrist.  As usual, professional football looked the other way.  They did not want to see, hear or speak evil of one of their own.

But once TMZ pushed out a more graphic video of Janay Rice hitting the deck after that punch, the potential public backlash forced the football industry to take action. 

If there had been no new video, would they have done anything more than that slap?


We’re not used to looking at paparazzi as performing a public service, but in this case, that’s just what TMZ did.

It’s not exactly traditional journalism, but like good journalism, it brought a horrific situation into the sunshine where we could all see it.

The horrific situation is that a professional athlete cold-cocked the woman in his life and his team and the NFL pretty much ignored it.  The victim sprang to the defense of the abuser.

Why? Money. Like most things in this country, it’s all about money.


A man I was with many years ago beat my head into our kitchen floor and threatened to kill me.

I understood why he did that. But it didn’t make it acceptable.

We have made great strides against domestic violence in the decades since I found myself with a three-day headache.

But we still have further to go.


Here’s the bottom line:

Ray Rice’s behavior is not acceptable.

His wife’s blaming the media for ruining their lives is not acceptable. Ray Rice’s fist ruined their lives.

The grudging sanctions by professional football are not acceptable. Fans should hold the league and team accountable. I doubt they will. But they should.

For once, tabloid media and paparazzi have performed a public service by pointing all this out.

Thank you, TMZ.

And here is the National Domestic Violence Hotline.


48 comments on “To Ray Rice’s wife: stop domestic violence
  1. Excellent.

    As far as journalism goes, where exactly can we find it now? Hmm. Where are the Walter Cronkites, Edward R. Murrows and Dan Rathers? Nowhere. So if TMZ did us a service, good for them!

    As far as the world of sports doing the right thing, ha! They turn a blind eye on many horrifying behaviors, but everyone is silent because of $$$$. At Penn State players were being abused but the powers that be, namely Joe Paterno for one, thought sports was more important than creating a safe place for his players.

    As my brother used to say, “Money talks. Bullshit walks.”

    Great post, Carol. This is all UNACCEPTABLE.

  2. Robin Herman says:

    Carol I can’t agree with the criticism of the victim here, Janay Palmer/Rice, for not leaving and assuming it’s the money. (Thank God you had the strength of character and ego to quit an abusive husband. I hate thinking about you in that situation) This woman continues to be under pressures and fears we can’t know about. For one thing they have a child together. Perhaps Rice has used custody of the child as a lever. Perhaps he has threatened his wife in other ways if she doesn’t publicly support him. Perhaps her psyche is so damaged by the years of abuse that she can only hold it together by blaming outside forces. People need to read posts w the hashtag #WhyIStayed Many women are in psychological handcuffs

    • I hear you, but from my seat, I don’t buy any of the excuses. I just don’t. Women need to step up and do what’s right for themselves and their children, not be held hostage by custody or other issues. As a society we turn a blind eye too often, swayed by celebrity , money, power. It’s got to stop.

    • Barbara says:

      I couldn’t agree more Robin, amen. I love Carol’s writing on this blog, but not-so-much all the subjects, and this one really really crosses the line for me. And I disagree with the comment from another who thinks this is an “excellent, though-provoking post”. I don’t think anyone is in a position to judge this woman in such an uncompassionate way and assume it is all for money. I too have read the #WhyIStayed posts of late, along with prior info and experiences, and feel it is NEVER ok to blame the victim like this. Posts like this one are just wrong (my opinion) and inflame instead of offering any real insight. Should we turn a blind eye? absolutely not! But should we blame and shame the victim? NEVER

      • Reasonable people can disagree; it’s all about the discussion. That’s why it’s called opinion and I appreciate yours. My bigger point is that the NFL and the Ravens wanted it all to go away and that’s all about the money. I do feel Mrs. Rice is scrambling and either his people or he was behind her statement blaming the media. It’s not the media that created this problem. And I never even hinted it was Mrs. Rice (which is what blaming the victim really means–like the victim provoked it) It was Ray Rice. So if you think I’m blaming the victim, re-read, as that’s not in this post at all. But I am more than suggesting that her statement was misplaced and even damaging to other women–blaming the media is absolutely putting responsibility in the wrong place.

  3. Roz Warren says:

    Excellent, thought-provoking post. Although I’d argue that it was his mind, not his fist, that ruined their lives. And that unless he gets some good therapy (and she does too) things aren’t likely to improve.

  4. Mary says:

    It’s amazing with what some women put up with to be with an athlete and their $$$!

  5. Yes! NOT acceptable. I’ve seen sisters punched, kicked, knocked to the floor and a gun shot right next to one’s head as she was held against the wall. None of it is acceptable. Thank God for those who have the ability — physically, financially, psychologically — to realize how very unacceptable it is and get out. God bless, be with and guide those who struggle to do so but haven’t yet found it within themselves to get the hell out.

  6. I was sad when I read Janay’s comments. She seemed so very far from believing her husband had any responsibility. I truly hope she is able to get away from him.

  7. kim tackett says:

    You’re absolutely right…it’s not acceptable, and my hope is that the more we talk about it and see it, young girls will understand that too. I have never been in a violent relationship, but I suspect it’s behavior they saw in their own families and learned to accept early on. Same for the men…

  8. Lizzy says:

    so disturbing. I lived in a horrifically verbally abusive home. My husband (I finally divorced him) was a highly functioning, explosive and volatile alcoholic. Oftentimes victims stick with our abusers because we start doubting what is normal, real and healthy. We defend our abusers because it’s almost habit. It’s a very sad situation and I am angry. NFL commish said something even worse: I hope they can work it out. EXCUSE ME? Would he really tell his daughter to work things out with a guy who beats the shit out of her? Me thinks not. You help her RUN, get help, and not go back.

  9. Great post Carol! I live in the state of SC which has the highest rate of domestic violence in the whole country and after seeing it first hand from a neighbor I can see why. These criminals are let out time and time again sent right back into the homes they terrorize and their victims are sitting their waiting on them. It’s easy to get away with here as in football because of the “Old Boys” ways of What goes on at home is nobodies business. That’s bullshit it needs to stop NOW.

    • It’s very damaging when high profile women make these kinds of public excuses, even though I have a deep understanding of some of the reasons why. I doubt that this woman is going to have custody issues for such a high profile case, or money issues, considering he already has a good bit of money. and oh-by-the-way, plenty of women make their own way. “But I love him” is another common excuse. “He didn’t mean it.” When a woman marries someone AFTER he cold-cocks her, that is a sign of her bad judgment. And while I don’t blame her for his behavior, which is what “blaming the victim” means, I do believe she is complicit in trying to preserve his job. What will her child learn? I would never say leaving is an easy road, but therapy is a long shot…

  10. Robin Herman says:

    Money is unquestionably the driving force behind the NFL’s actions/inactions. Same for the Ravens organization. Wondering though how the NJ prosecutor, having seen the tape, could allow Rice to avoid jail time. I hate the term “domestic violence” as though this type of violent crime — assault, intimidation with weapons, etc. – was different, lesser than when the victim is outside an intimate relationship. Would we hope a beaten and robbed store owner would “work it out” with his assailant?

    • Now THAT is such a brilliant analogy. I am impressed with how many male sports writers have stepped up on this subject and encouraged by that. I think the NFL is having its “come to Jesus” moment, maybe….

  11. Karen says:

    I understand her ambivalence–no one wants to have this stuff pointed out to them while they’re still in denial. He probably apologized profusely after it happened, swore it would never happen again…until the next time. But in the early days of a relationship like this, it’s far too easy for the victim to believe in the perp’s good intentions.

    You’re quite right that it’s wholly unacceptable. But in social work there’s an actual technical term for what Janay is doing right now: it’s called Karpman’s triangle. When a 3rd party rescuer (in this case the media and social media) intervenes in an abuser/victim dyad, suddenly the roles change–the victim jumps into a rescuing role herself, perceiving the abuser as being victimized, and seeing the rescuer as an abuser.

    This isn’t to say it’s right–it’s absolutely 100% not right–but it’s to be expected. Eventually, with help, Janay may be able to understand her own role as victim, but I wouldn’t count on that happening soon. As for her scumbag husband…well, I’d be happy to see him behind bars.

    • As a former reputation management consultant for high-profile clients in public trouble like Ray Rice I can say with almost total certainty that her statement was part of a plan to try to regain control of this issue. It’s unlikely that she free-styled on this–although possible. I think it’s way more likely that his PR team is behind it. Yes, that is the dirty little secret behind media counsel to this kind of guy.

  12. “I don’t blame her for his behavior, which is what “blaming the victim” means.” Thank you. YES.

    That IS what “blaming the victim” means. But it’s already become a trivialized catch-phrase because it’s used now to refer to those of us whose first response is to encourage other women in this situation to start extricating themselves from the mess they’re in. This is NOT BLAMING THE VICTIM. It’s encouraging the victim to see HERSELF as a victim and take steps – yes long, deliberate, well-plotted steps – to get the hell out. How can that response be confused with blaming, when blaming is telling a victim she “provoked” it, or “deserved” it? And who the hell would say that about or to ANY woman who’s been knocked unconscious? She’s a victim. She has to learn to know that first and take action. As for her husband, he’s a criminal, period.

    • These misunderstandings have a life of their own, don’t they? People don’t read carefully, they see what they think they see and then go off on unrelated tangents based on their own stuff. You see it all over the web this week.

      I am just not a big fan of the excuses people are making for her to not leave, especially when she has money, visibility etc etc. It’s not like she’s some under-employed or unemployed mom with three kids who has no visible means of support. Those are women with few options.Let’s get real here. If anyone can leave a bad situation it’s someone in her situation.

  13. Robin Herman says:

    @Karen This is not “early days” in the relationship. They’ve been with one another since high school (began dating in 2008) and they have a two and a half-year-old daughter together. True Carol, as Mrs. Rice she now has the money to leave – unless she signed a prenup and everything’s in his name. and she’s only consulting his lawyer and his pr people. Who knows? Bad things are going to continue to happen to her I fear.

    • It almost doesn’t matter because we know she won’t end up destitute. He would have to pay child support. It is unlikely he could get custody, especially after this. But all the details really don’t matter to me because the bottom line is that she is a victim of abuse, she is blaming the media for his loss of his big contract among other things, professional sports has once again shown its true colors. Those are my points. The rest of it? Just details to me.

  14. Ruth Curran says:

    You say the average is three times and the woman leaves? Don’t forget that that is a statistic tied to reported incidents of domestic violence. There are so many more that don’t say a word because they believe they don’t deserve better. Every single one deserves better…. How do we get that message to sink in and stick???

  15. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Well said, Carol. I agree with you 100%. I do have sympathy for the wife, of course, but when she defends her husband it makes my stomach turn.

  16. No words. The violence must stop and we have to stop giving athletes a free pass.

  17. Lana says:

    The boys and I were talking about this last night, and they couldn’t understand why she married him after he hit her, or why she was defending him now. I tried to explain the complexities of an abusive relationship to them. My husband said “follow the money”. I am so sickened by the NFL and the way society turns a blind eye, especially when money is involved. I hope that this woman has good family and friends around her who will help her find the strength to get out now. It will only get worse.

    • I think your husband is right. Sad to say. Even if a woman lashed out at him, there is no excuse for any man, especially a professional football player, to cold cock a woman. I mean. seriously?

  18. I was disturbed on so many levels by that video. After he knocked her out cold did you see one ounce of urgency to get help for her? Did he call 911 to have her checked out? She could have died in her sleep of a brain bleed. The security guard did nothing either.
    The first thought I had was he has to be on steroids, steroid rage had to be the ONLY thing that would cause a very big man to cold cock a tiny woman in the face. That is what I believe the NFL wants to cover up. (the steroids)
    I too have had my head pounded into a wall, was nearly strangled to death, screamed at and accused of having an affair in my place of employment. Having my co workers hear that was the wake up I needed. It was humiliating but it saved my life. I walked away without the house, the money or anything but my life and the clothes on my back. I worked at one of my company’s other locations and hid with help for a year. I have done the same for two other women.
    I do not feel sorry for Janay either. If you stay for your child you are risking your child’s life. Is the money worth losing your child or your own life?
    TMZ also brought the Chris Brown/Rhianna abuse case to us. All I have to say is if that is what it takes.
    Seeing all the tweets from men from the NFL, other major league sports and all walks of life expressing their disgust gave me hope.

  19. Tammy says:

    Everything about this situation sickens me to the core. I think it’s time that women ran the NFL. We can see past our pride, privates and wallets to do what is right. The organization is a disgrace and grows and encourages these kinds of actions by not punishing the perpetrator. It just couldn’t be any more shameful.

  20. Kim says:

    Thank you, Carol, so much for this. We women need to start getting ANGRIER about this.

  21. Toni McCloe says:

    Everybody seems to want to blame the victim here, I don’t. I blame her mother. When my girls were growing up, I told them that if a man hit them once he will do it again and again and again. Violence escalates. Girls need to be taught this. They also need to be valued for who they are so that their self esteem is high and they can remove themselves from such circumstances.

    • Gosh, I don’t see anyone blaming the victim. Blaming the victim means “she asked for it.” I haven’t seen a single piece of writing anywhere that says that. Take a second to look at the comments. No one at all, not even me, blames the victim. I am critical of her blaming the media, but do not blame her for the abuse.

  22. WendysHat says:

    NOT acceptable AT ALL!

  23. bodynsoil says:

    I overheard someone earlier mentioned that she didn’t get knocked out until SHE hit the railing.. I responded, “wasn’t that immediately after he punched her, I think that was a contributing factor.” I’m thinking what you are thinking, that the thought of losing a couple million didn’t set well..

  24. Donna says:

    I was shocked at the video. He knocked her out and then dragged her out of the elevator. He should have been arrested right then. Following the situation only from the media I don’t know anything for sure, except the video, that was clear. I hope changes are made in the NFL. The NFL should contact law enforcement agencies to find out how they handle it. It is a big problem for them. Also the military.
    I wonder what happens in the private sector. I mean if a man at IBM beats his wife, does IBM take responsibility for it? If he is fired does it go on his record so that he cannot find employment again? I believe that men can be rehabilitated in situations like this, if they want to. But Ray Rice is over. He will never play football again, and probably never find a job. Beating a woman is horrific, but to simply throw him away doesn’t seem fair either. Everyone deserves a path out. Whether someone chooses to take it is on them.

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