The video of Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancée Janay Palmer has made the issue of domestic violence a heated topic of conversation. There was a public outcry when Ray Rice received a two game suspension from the NFL and again when the video of the incident was released. The Baltimore Ravens severed his contract and the NFL suspended him indefinitely upon viewing the video. This incident has captured the attention of the public, but how can we use this to reduce the number of victims in the future?
Ray Rice took a plea deal which consisted of probation and completion of an anger management program. Anger management programs are not as successful as batterer’s prevention programs. Batterer’s programs focus on stopping the pattern of abuse and try to find the root cause of why he abuses. ‘Batterer’s intervention programs address the concerns of intimate partner violence and attempt to end the cycle of violence, with an overall goal of victim safety.’(1) Is Ray Rice in the wrong program?
Abusers want to control and manipulative their intimate partner. Can they change their inbred nature? The basis of abuse comes from their values, opinions and lack of respect. How do we change people’s core values?
Let’s look at this from the victim’s point of view. Why doesn’t she just leave? The public has asked this question of Janay Palmer Rice. She married him after the incident. Isn’t she to blame?
This is classic victim-blaming. The crime was committed against her. The reasons why she’s staying are much more complex than why Ray Rice hit her. I summarized eight reasons why women stay in a series of recent blogs. See below for the link.
How can we prevent more victims of intimate partner abuse? I believe education and community awareness are two key components to prevention. We want to look at domestic violence on an individual basis. That way we can help each victim independently. Each victim experiences domestic violence differently and reacts according to her belief system.
Does a victim understand that domestic violence can be demonstrated in ways other than a slap or a punch? Does she know that jealously could lead to abuse? Does she know that if she is poked or pushed in an argument it is considered abuse? Has she been educated on the signs of abuse? Maybe she’s never witnessed a relationship that she can model for herself and doesn’t understand when someone crosses the line. Domestic violence organizations can educate her on the different types of abuse.
What if we can educate our younger children? Did you know the following statistic? ‘Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner—a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth.’ (2 ) If we can reach young people and help them to understand what is acceptable in a relationship, then we can reduce the number of victims in the future.
Community Awareness is another area where we can focus on the individual. Do you know or suspect someone may be in an abusive relationship? Do you know how to help them? We need toe educate the community on the signs of domestic abuse. Friends and family can support her and help her to realize that she’s in an abusive relationship and guide her to an organization that will help her. The more aware we are about intimate partner abuse, the better we can support the victim.
Remember, if we can help just one victim, we’ve done our job!
Click here for the 8 part series on why women stay and scroll down to read each reason.
1) Hubbard House is a certified domestic violence center serving victims in Duval and Baker counties in north Florida. http://jacksonville.com/interact/blog/inside_hubbard_house/2009-06-09/anger_management_versus_batterers_intervention
2) Davis, Antoinette, MPH. 2008. Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence among Teens. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus. Available at http://www.ocjs.ohio.gov/TDVMonth/Interpersonal_Teens.pdf