I situation of domestic violence (DV) has been splashed through the news, but more so on the sports channels and air waves. Ray Rice, a pro-bowl running back, for the Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens got caught on film hitting his wife and knocking her unconscious. The incident is becoming even more scandalous since the revealing of a second video of the physical assault. The NFL administration is running for cover for their lack of due diligence and that is as it should be.
I have worked with DV victims for over 30 years and work with them today. I have never hit a woman, but my words have a times been out of bounds. When the first video came out a couple of months ago, it was one of Mr. Rice dragging his unconscious girlfriend out of an elevator. A week later, the inside the elevator video surfaced, and there was Ray, clear as day, slugging his fiancé and knocking her against the wall of the elevator. It is bad to watch, but the media really likes to run it again, and again.
The first consequence by the NFL, based on the first flick, was for Ray Rice to get a two-day suspension from play. There was an outcry from both women and men’s groups, that the two games was insufficient, since other players who smoked marijuana got many more game suspensions. When the second video came out, he was basically exited from the league.
I am not sure what is just, but I have never heard of a man, guilty of DV, losing his livelihood. When it comes to discipline, consequences and the law, for his crime, and it is always a crime when a man hits a woman, here in the valley, they get a few nights in county jail and mandated 52 weeks of DV classes.
To me those are appropriate and helpful responses to a crime of assault. It is great that we know have faith-based Anger Management conducted by WOVEN and Turning Point Ministries. If you have an issue with anger, call them, call me or call the Center for Family Solutions.
I feel bad for Ray. I am a Raven fan. My nephew played for them briefly. But more so, I am a fan for mercy and forgiveness. Jesus told the adulteress to “go and sin no more.” A more appropriate consequence for Ray, and his wife, who admits to also behaving badly, would be for them both to become the poster couple for Anger Management in the NFL.
He could be mandated 5,000 hours of doing community service and education, and that would do more for prevention, than taking away his career. A couple of things that also lend themselves to mercy: I think it was the first incident of the Rice couple, (they are now married), to come to the attention of authorities. Also, she was not hospitalized. I realize the rush to judgment may be a societal reaction to the past decades of passivity.
Also with our prisons overflowing with black men, I think mercy and service are more responsible, than taking away his paycheck for the next several years. He has worked hard for his career, and nowhere else do you lose your career over one incident. Not even in law enforcement.
How about the church and domestic violence? What do pastors do when confronted with an incident? I hope they call the police. I hope they hold men and women accountable and ask for a letter from WOVEN or Turning Point saying they have completed a program. I really don’t know what happens, but I suspect the church might be as guilty as the NFL for not doing the right thing for a very long time. And doing the wrong thing doesn’t make up for it, nor erase our own sin of passivity.