Devastating dysfunction exists in Ray and Janay's Rice's relationship – and now the whole world knows it.
A recently released video shows the couple in a shocking altercation on an elevator in an Atlantic City casino. Ray strikes Janay, who was then his fiancée, and after she strikes back he wields a punch that slams her head against the wall and knocks her out cold. A previously released video in February shows Ray dragging Janay off the elevator, and as deplorable as that scene was, no one knew exactly what happened prior … behind closed doors.
The running back for the Baltimore Ravens has now been cut from the team and suspended indefinitely from the National Football League. Ripple effects from such a disturbing display of domestic violence prompted Congress to probe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on how Rice's case has been handled, and now an independent investigation will examine the NFL's response to this case and their approach to domestic violence.
While investigations are necessary and critical, it's important to remember – this is not just an NFL problem. Countless people across occupational, cultural, ethnic, and gender lines are victims of domestic violence every day, but most of their experiences are "off camera." Perhaps you're one of those people – you've rationalized, apologized, and yet know at any given moment you could be terrorized. Find help today.* You don't have to combat domestic violence alone.
Recent statistics indicate that around one in three women experience physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner. Domestic violence is not a problem for only a few. These women are our neighbors, friends, co-workers and family members. This problem affects all of us, and we need to work together to raise awareness, stand against abuse, and help those trapped in abusive relationships find a way out.
There are many different levels of abuse. If you have been physically attacked, you need to carefully create a plan to leave as quickly as possible. If you are concerned that a combative or verbally abusive relationship may escalate, consider the following five steps:
1. State clearly, in a conversation or a letter, what you are willing to accept and not accept from the abuser. Do not justify yourself. Do not be apologetic, just succinctly state the boundary:
• "Our relationship is over if the abuse does not end …
• "I am not willing to listen to your 'name-calling.'
• "I am not willing to hear your accusations concerning (name) any longer."
• Remember … "The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered" (Proverbs 17:27 NIV 2011).
2. Announce the consequences you will enforce if the abuser violates your boundaries. Consequences demonstrate personal responsibility.
• "If you call me a name again, I will leave for a period of time."
• "If you attack me, you will have to face the end of our relationship and also the involvement of law enforcement."
• "If you give me the silent treatment, I will speak with a friend or counselor."
• Remember … "A man reaps what he sows" (Galatians 6:7 NIV 2011).
3. Hold your ground and absolutely do not negotiate. Instead of "talking out" the problem, your abuser will seek to wear you out.
• "I am not willing to discuss this topic any longer."
• "I have stated clearly what I will not accept."
• "When you are ready to respect my boundaries, let me know."
• Remember … "Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues" (Proverbs 10:19 NIV 2011).
4. Respond responsibly when your boundary is violated – never react on "gut" emotion or out of anger. Expect your boundary to be violated … but act, don't react.
• Do not lose control of yourself.
• Do not beg because of feeling fearful.
• Do not explode because of feeling frustrated.
• Remember … "The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools" (Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 NIV 2011).
5. Seek sound counsel and reliable help, particularly if an emergency situation should arise. Develop a circle of trusted support made up of wise, objective, and godly people.
• Discuss troublesome situations with your counselors/friends.
• Distinguish manipulative tactics that may be used against you.
• Determine a plan of action together.
• Remember … "Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise" (Proverbs 19:20).
We hope and pray that both Janay and Ray Rice find the help and hope that they desperately need. This tragic situation has lifted the curtain on abuse that almost always occurs behind closed doors. Domestic violence attacks and diminishes every one of us. As followers of Christ we must lead the charge to stop this abuse by following our Lord's command to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.
*If you or someone you love is dealing with domestic violence and you are unsure of where to find help, contact Hope for the Heart at 1-800-488-HOPE (4673).