For the last several weeks like much of the world, I have witnessed what has happened and is happening in, with and to the NFL. While many think and believe that the image of the league is or should be the primary concern, it is not. Nor can it be. What brought it to the attention of most of us to begin with is the overlooked and “fumbled” subject of domestic violence. While the image of the National Football League is important to many, I am more committed to what has been eclipsed by the preservation of its image. That is the story of Janay Rice. In an effort to offer a different perspective, below is a “would be” conversation I would have with myself if I were Mrs. Janay Rice. After all, it is worth the introspection.
What would you do if you were in Janay’s situation? What would you need or want, to feel supported and dare I say to be made whole…again? Deborah, what are you saying to yourself in your quiet moments, those private thoughts that give way to pause? The seemingly unaccounted for, invisible insertions of self-doubt, self-reflection; of “what if?” And then, “what would I do over, differently or again?
Why do you stay? Why have you stayed? How many prayers have you ever prayed? Why did you say, “I Do!?” Do you love the father of your daughter? Did he hit you because you hit him? Was it your fault?
If you answer affirmative to any or all of these, then you must so self-affirm and agree that you deserve what you get; what you got, whatever shall come or whatever will be.
Alas, I am not Janay Rice. Nor have I been in her specific situation. However, while I have not experienced such physical trauma, I have personally suffered emotional, mental and financial blows at the hands of the opposite sex. That at the time, knocked me in a state of unconsciousness. To which I am still trying to recover today. My guard is up. My armor still on.
While I am not comparing my above experiences to physical abuse, I am drawing a slight parallel just to paint a picture, because in any or either case, I too overstayed my welcome. In fact, looking back I was not welcomed at all. It was situational and circumstantial until I decided to jump ship and save the rest of me and what was left of me.
Which brings me to this, while I do not need to be in Janay Rice’s immediate shoes to relate, I can extend myself in her defense and honor; offering to cover and blanket her in and with a swell of heartfelt sisterhood and womanhood. Above all humanity.
See the only question presently being asked is, “WHY DOES SHE STAY?” The other question that need be asked is, “Why does Ray Rice abuse?” This is not suggested as a further indictment against her now husband. Rather to contemplate a more esoteric set of complexities that exist.
There is something greater at play here. It has been happening for some time. Within her. Within him. Between them. The answers go far beyond money and or that they have a daughter together. These may be motivation to remain, but far deeper ones may exist to keep her there for the long term. Surely these are not enough to sustain. Nor, to save her life.
Whatever the reasons, rationale or the explanation, The Rice’s are here now. WE THE PUBLIC ARE HERE NOW as well. While we watch from our private homes or from the stadium stands, we are standing by watching and commenting on something we only know in part and that happened many months ago. Yet, is unfolding now in the media. This (domestic violence) happens every day with “31 percent of women in the United States have been physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives,” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Intimate partner violence covers “physical, sexual or psychological harm” by a current or former partner, also note by the CDC. In addition to experiencing physical abuse by a partner, an estimated 22.3 percent of women (and 14 percent of men) have experienced severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
Which brings us here. We do not know of the Rice’s path to reconcile or to heal. We only know what we know because someone leaked footage to the press. What would we do if someone leaked our mess? So, the final question I would ask myself is this. Dr. Deborah, now that you have come to a slightly better understanding, what would you say if you were Janay? My Answer: I would seek counseling; ask for continued prayers and support. Above all else, I would ask people to “Judge less & love more!”