Ray Rice dragging his now wife out of an elevator can really do things to a person’s mind. The first thought should be shock, the second appears to be “What did she do to deserve that?”
Unfortunately, domestic violence — especially cases involving celebrities, athletes, and other people with money — comes with a lack of empathy and compassion for the attacked. There’s also the argument that women abusing men are usually joked about, and then there’s Rice’s wife, Janay Palmer. They fought each other, and she’s forgiven him, therefore it’s hard to see her as a victim.
In this case, there’s been debate over who’s to blame, but there really shouldn’t be a need for finger-pointing. Even with accepting responsibility for the incident, Rice has a peanut gallery of partial defenders. (Whoopi Goldberg had something to say about it, as did Stephen A. Smith).
That being said, the point of Rice’s story that keeps being overlooked are the most visually grotesque seconds in that surveillance video. After he knocked her out, he’s calmly pulling her body into the elevator. A grainy hotel camera can’t pick up the terror that could’ve been in Rice’s face, the fear that he could’ve permanently injured his fiancée — the mother of his child. His body language didn’t show any of that either. He never bends down to see her in the face, to take a close look at how out of hand things have clearly gotten in their relationship. He kicks her legs, leaves her slumped over at one point, and he drags her, like a dead body. An actual corpse. It was shocking then, and it’s shocking now. It’s obvious that Rice has some internal issues he needs to look into. A two-game suspension won’t address them.
Palmer’s decision to stay with Rice is certainly her right. There’s no way of telling if he can make a permanent change, and what the public saw in the video doesn’t mean he didn’t have breakdown moments. Rice says that he has to live through the repercussions of his actions daily, and at some point, he’ll have to explain the video to his daughter. One can only imagine how that conversation will go. Especially because there’s really no justification for knocking a woman unconscious. His daughter may understand that he made mistakes in his past, and learned from them, but will she ever really be able to digest what really happened? That video might be a little hard to swallow.
The impact on Rice’s daughter looks to be—from what he expressed at yesterday’s press conference—the hardest part of this hail storm. Still, he doesn’t stand alone. Although many are not severe as his case, domestic assault and abuse-related arrests are an ongoing problem in the NFL.
View 10 players who were arrested for domestic incidents in the gallery.