Reexamining the NFL Response to Domestic Violence:
Why is No One Listening to Janay Rice?
Domestic violence is complicated because victims may not want to end their relationship with the abusers, or to see him/her prosecuted.
As a victim advocate, I see my role as restoring power to the victim by listening to what she tells me she wants (although I try to tell them my concerns and lay out their options). Ultimately, the victims must make their own decision, because they are the one who must live with the consequences of their actions. Once that decision is made, I try not to judge a victim who has made a decision I don’t agree with, since the victim has more information than I do about their circumstances.
All of this is by way of saying that what Ray Rice did to his wife was a terrible crime, but she has made it clear she does not feel she is best served by jailing him or sanctioning him finically (and indeed any financial sanction harms her too). My problem with the NFL’s reaction was that it had nothing to do with her, or what she wanted – as though the crime happened in a vacuum, or was a crime against the NFL. It was not a victim-centered response – it was about protecting the NFL’s reputation. I would like to see the NFL condemn domestic violence, but not by punishing the victim through dis-empowering her.
Maybe requiring batterer’s education for their players, or donating to a battered women’s organization. While I don’t want to see domestic violence swept under the rug, I think Janay Rice should not have to litigate her victimization in the media, or justify her decisions to the general public.
So I don’t have a perfect answer, but I think the current approach victimized and re victimized Janay Rice – she lost every way.