Just this past week, a second tape was released which revealed the brutality of what happened in that elevator that night. This time, the response from the NFL and the Ravens was quick and decisive: Ray Rice was released from the team and suspended by the league indefinitely. Despite the fact that there had not been any ambiguity about what happened inside the elevator that night, the public outcry since the release of the video has been unprecedented. While there is anger at Ray Rice’s actions and the lackluster response from the NFL, there has also been a backlash against Janay herself, with everyone asking “Why does she stay?” instead of asking “Why is he abusive?”
In the age of social media, survivors took to the internet to express just how difficult it can be to leave an abusive relationship, using the Twitter hashtags #whyIstayed and #whyIleft. One gripping post at a time, they shared stories of fear and isolation that are all too familiar to other survivors and the advocates who work in this field. I encourage you to spend a few minutes reading this incredible thread and then ask yourselves what right you have to question Janay Rice’s decision making. Generations of women who survive domestic violence show us that staying may ironically be the least violent option in their lives.
This is a huge opportunity for the NFL and for all of us to get this right- to have a substantive conversation about how to prevent future violence by educating our young people and fully supporting crisis center services for victims of domestic violence. If we are truly going to deal with the grip that domestic violence has on our society we need to show greater concern about this issue without having to show disturbing images of violence against women over and over again. We need to be outraged at the fact that what happened in that elevator happens every day to women in our own communities behind closed doors. We shouldn’t have to see a videotape of a woman being beaten to care about victims of domestic violence.
While the problem may seem overwhelming, there are ways that you can take action. Here are just a few ideas to help you get started:
- Go to the www.nhcadsv.org and make a donation or look up one of the number of events happening in your own community during October which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. That includes 5k events in honor of two women who lost their lives to domestic violence: Kelly Mann and Missy Cantin Charbonneau;
- Volunteer at the local domestic violence shelter in your community;
- Encourage your State Legislators to support increased funding for domestic violence services.
Most importantly, if you know someone who you suspect is being abused and you don’t know how to help, call the 24 hour New Hampshire crisis line 1-866-644-3574 and find out how you can start the conversation today. Advocates are standing by to help.
Join us in saying No more, because together we can end domestic and sexual violence.
Maureen McDonald is the Community Relations Director for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.