… it happened like this.
Watch the video. Janay appears to have started the physical altercation. Although, truth be told, we don’t really know since there’s apparently nothing known about what happened before they got to the elevator. I can’t tell if she slaps Ray Rice, or if she just lunges at him, but at least with the video evidence, she started it. Maybe it’s been going on for a long time. He does or says something, she gets upset, and slaps him. Maybe he’s finally had it and, for the first time ever, he lashes out and responds to physical violence with physical violence of his own. Because he just wants it to stop and nothing else has worked. You know, a big tough NFL player can’t go to counseling because his girlfriend hits him. He can’t seek help from co-workers, because you know there’s this macho culture that pervades most locker rooms. He would be shamed and bullied and victimized even more in most of those locker rooms. Please, just imagine the conversation that would take place in his workplace if he were to mention that his girlfriend hits him. And, if the world knew about all of this? It’s just not how the world views NFL players. So, he’s been taking it for a while now and he just snapped.
You say, no, that can’t be. Or, so what, he still shouldn’t have struck her. He was wrong. A man can never strike a woman. Yes, but there are some woman who think that, while also believing they have the right to strike their man. Let me tell you a story…
When I was twenty-two I started dating a woman who I now not so affectionately refer to as my ex-psycho-girlfriend-from-hell. Sometimes I use a name that’s even worse. Yes, twenty-seven years later the scars still run deep and jagged across my psyche. She was incredibly insecure and jealous and possessive and controlling and manipulative. But, you know what … I was having sex for the first time. Regularly and frequently. Yes, I was a virgin until I was twenty-two and this was my first “real” relationship with a woman, or so I thought for a while. I had dated a few women before, but I was so flippin’ clueless it’s difficult to describe those earlier relationships as real. And for a while I was like a puppy dog because of that sex thing. I would have done anything just to keep on doing the naked pretzel.
I don’t remember the first time it happened, but somewhere a few months into our relationship I said or did something that angered her. She slapped me. A few months later, something else happened and she slapped me again. I remember this one time. My friends had done a really, really stupid thing that was insulting to her (justifiably so) and when we confirmed that my friends had done the thing, she went off. Slapping me over and over again and screaming at me and … it just wasn’t good. It started at my home and continued as I drove her home because she was so angry at me … for something my friends had done.
We started dating in January or February. The slapping ended the following New Year’s Eve. I don’t remember what it was … oh wait, now I do. I accused her of having a double standard about what she could do that I couldn’t because of her insecurities. She went off again. The mixture of alcohol and her rage and her insecurities just exploded that night. She started slapping me and screaming and she wouldn’t stop. She … would … not … stop. Until I slapped her back. And told her to never do it again. Her initial response was outrage that I would slap her – this a woman who had been slapping me regularly for a year. You see, she had the right to something that I didn’t have the right to. Something I never, ever wanted the right to. I never struck somebody in anger before that moment and I have never done so since. I hope to live the rest of my life never having to hit or strike another person. But I felt I had no other options that night.
It worked. She never slapped me again. But I then spent another two and a half years trying to break up with her. It was hard because she did this thing whenever I suggested breaking up. She acted like she would kill herself if I left her. Knives and broken glass on her wrists. It took me all of that time to screw up the courage to break things off and accept the consequences no matter what. She is still alive. It was all manipulation.
I look at all of this stuff about Ray Rice and I’m disgusted. By his actions, or at least what they appear to be, and by our need to rush to judgment. Our need to call her stupid for staying with him, without having a clue about what goes on behind the closed doors of their relationship. Our need to vilify him for a horrible act, without having a clue about what went on before. We know absolutely nothing about what happened that night. Nothing. Regardless of what you think you know, you, in fact, do not know anything about what brought those two individuals to that elevator and a situation where he did what he did. Yet, we jump to conclusions and we judge and criticize and call them names. Maybe we should stop doing that. Or at least wait until we know a hell of a lot more about the situation than we do now.