The wife of NFL player Ray Rice, who was knocked unconscious by her then-fiancé in an Atlantic City elevator, says the assault last February was part of God's divine plan to raise awareness for domestic abuse in America.
Although Janay Rice, formerly Janay Palmer during the time of the attack, told The Today Show's Matt Lauer on Monday that her physical altercation with Ray was just a one-time occurrence, she firmly believes that God used her and her now-husband as tools to raise awareness for the women that suffer from that kind of physical abuse on a regular basis.
"I feel like God chose me and Ray for a reason," Rice said. "It was definitely to bring awareness to what people are going through every day.
"Even though it is not what I am going through every day, it is definitely something that has brought this topic to the forefront. And, we are OK with that," Rice added.
After TMZ released the security footage of Ray dragging a knocked-out Janay out of the Atlantic City elevator, just a few days after the incident occurred, Rice and his fiancé became the focal point of a national media firestorm and societal discussion on the prevalence of domestic abuse.
The incident also got Rice an initial two-game suspension from the NFL, and after TMZ released additional footage from inside the elevator, which confirmed that Rice indeed punched out his fiancé, he was then suspended indefinitely by the league.
Although Janay has defended her husband from the very start of the controversy, many critics have claimed that her act of sticking up for her husband and claiming that the incident was not a normal everyday occurrence was typical behavior for women involved in abusive relationships.
Janay claims the incident was spurned by the fact that both of them were intoxicated at the time and that Ray had never hit her before that incident.
"No, not at all," Rice responded when Lauer asked if Ray had ever physically hurt her before. "Ray knows me. And there's no way. He knows what he would have to deal with. I'm not going to sit there in silence and let something happen to me -- and God forbid, in front of my child, just like, let it happen? There's no way."
Janay's mother, Candy Palmer, who also participated in the interview with Lauer, corroborated her daughter's claims that the assault was just a one-time occurrence and that it will never happen again.
"I am just saying that this is not the type of relationship that she is in," Palmer asserted. "No, this is not the first thing that is going to happen the next time. No, there is no next time. We have already made that clear. There is no next time."
In an interview with Matt Lauer released Tuesday, Ray Rice seconded Janay's notion that their altercation has helped raise awareness for the issue of domestic violence.
"I realize football was one thing, but now I realize that the amount of people we've affected, the amount of families we've affected, that, you know, domestic violence is a real issue in society," Rice said. "We could take our one bad night, it just happened to be on video, but we are truly sorry for the people that are really going through it. You know, it is a real problem. And I know when the time is right, I know my wife wants to help, I know I want to help."
After an arbitrator ruled on Friday to overturn the NFL's indefinite suspension of Rice, the 27-year-old is finally eligible to return to the football field. However, he will have to find a team first. Rice said teams will have to look past his "one bad night."
"They would have to be willing to, you know, look deeper into who I am and realize that me and my wife had one bad night, and I took full responsibility for it," Rice said. "And one thing about my punishment and everything going along with anything that happened is that I've accepted."
Rice is still well respected in Baltimore, where he formerly played for the Baltimore Ravens and ran an anti-bullying campaign that helped lead to the Maryland government passing Grace's Law, a law which made it a misdemeanor to repeatedly cyberbully another person.