The News Cycle Bites

soapboxpile“A bad year and a bad month to all the backbiting bitches in the world!…” 
― Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraDon Quixote

Disclaimer

The first man to call me wife also called me whore and property. I have written about my nearly three years under his roof and his fists, here and elsewhere. I have exposed small parts of my life as a runaway at 15, a claimed woman child with no safe haven until he stretched out his hand and lifted me up. No, he wasn’t a ‘true’ husband, but by Texas law, he could claim the title and I did not know better. I was young, uneducated and afraid. I was afraid of him, I was more afraid of the streets.

I will not catalog every abuse, suffice to say in my nearly three years with him he broke several bones, he beat me so badly I lost my uterus and one ovary, he broke my nose more than once. Other parts of my body, suffered long-term damage and I carry many scars where I had to be stitched up after one of his beatings. This doesn’t even come close to cataloguing the emotional damaging those three years did to me. I never fought back after the first time.

People often ask why we stay, why an abused partner stays. There are many reasons, sometimes fear is the overriding reason. He told me if I tried to leave he would find me and kill me, I believed him. I was also afraid of the streets I had already been on, something I had already lived through and understood. I had nowhere to go, no one to turn to for help. In the early 1970’s there was no domestic violence laws, no shelters to protect us. In fact, domestic violence was ignored entirely unless someone died.


 

Domestic violence took over the news cycles the past couple of days; we have been subject to the left hook of Ray Rice in the elevator. Everyone has an opinion and for the most part that opinion is there is no pit in hell deep enough or hot enough for Ray Rice. Furthermore, the NFL and the DA didn’t do enough to punish him for that left hook and what followed. Dragging his fiancé out of the elevator, leaving her lying on the ground, legs and arms akimbo and name-calling, AP presumably has a video with audio in which the casino offers to cover up for him.

Here is the problem in this entire scenario, Janay Palmer Rice slapped Ray Rice first, she spit on him first in the elevator  and appears to have been the aggressor before the infamous left hook. None of us knows what came before the three minutes we have been made privy too, we don’t know what else their lives look like. We don’t know who they are, separately or together. We only know the Left Hook and being the good little drones we all are, we have drawn our conclusions and we have publicly pilloried Ray Rice, without ever once questioning her actions that came before.

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Could he have handled it better? Restrained her instead of punching her, maybe he could have. Likely, this would have been a better choice. However, this says people don’t have a right to defend themselves from an assault if they are men and it is a woman assaulting them. It says as a woman, short of wielding a knife and threatening a man’s life, I can do just about any damned thing I like and get away with it, that no man has a right to hit me, not even in self-defense.

I call bullshit. Yes, me a survivor of horrific domestic violence where I never once defended myself, where I never once raised my hand or my voice, I call bullshit.

There are far worse in the NFL then Ray Rice, if the NFL wants to make examples start with those who have killed, used drugs, been arrested for DWI, or hand all the abusers the same outcome as Ray Rice, it is simple to find this information, go here.

In the meantime, I have another issue with this entire news cycle. It is the diversion, the look over there style of reporting. The amazingly simplemindedness of it all has me dumbfounded. While the entire nation focuses on the left hook of Ray Rice, we forget the national tragedy of a militarized police force in every town, big or small across the land. We forget the unarmed men and women, mostly of color, mostly Black bleeding out on our streets.

We forget Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Kajieme Powell, Marlene Pinnock and these are just the names of those beaten or murdered by cops between July and August of this year.

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At no time did these names, did these murders, did this tragedy elicit the call to action by so many from every side of the aisle, as the left hook of Ray Rice. The murderous acts of cops do not so much as cause our elected representatives to blink. Riot gear, tear gas and wooden bullets turned on peaceful demonstrators doesn’t elicit even 5 minutes of; ‘calm your asses down out there’ from the administration. But the Left Hook of Ray Rice has Congress demanding action from the NFL and the President of the United States issue statements.

I will say it one last time; I am a survivor of domestic violence. At no time did I defend myself; I knew if I did, it would be worse. I was fifteen when it started. I was eighteen when I ran. There are many reasons why a person stays, sometimes it is fear, other times it is love; sometimes it is because we are so broken we think we deserve the abuse. No one can judge. We do not have the right to judge Ray or Janay, not now and not then. What we do have the right to do is step off and start looking at this situation with more clarity.

Men should not hit women; in most cases, they are larger and stronger. However, women shouldn’t hit men, shouldn’t attack, shouldn’t place themselves in the position where a man must defend himself and thus will likely hurt her in the process. I am sorry but self-defense is not abuse. It is a fine line, I understand this however, women are as responsible for staying on the other side of that line as men are. Some of the things I have heard over the past couple of days are idiotic, things that would seem to mean that we expect men to be saints, at all time. Things that would seem to mean a man has no right ever to defend himself under any circumstance, this is simply wrong and wrong-headed.

Some things that are important to know with regard to Domestic Violence, men make up approximately 40% of domestic violence victims.

Over a year ago we fought to refund VAWA, the battle was hard fought and there were some significant concessions that had to be made. Some of the issues the GOP hated? The expansions of services to poorly served populations including Native women on reservations and the LGBT community.

In the meantime, cops are beating and murdering in the streets and the outcry isn’t near what it is for the Left Hook of Ray Rice.

What is wrong with the morality and values of this nation? Don’t you think it is time to start asking this question?

Another take on it: http://theobamacrat.com/2014/09/09/raymell-mourice-ray-rice-abuser-victim-or-both/

I leave you with this.

Comments

  1. Not to minimize the significance of this issue but the biggest and most foolish omission in news coverage is the matter of the radiation from Fukishima facility in Japan. It continues to spiral out of control and threatens the very existence of all life on this planet.

  2. Well said, Val. That’s the flaw in our news. It always seems as though when a new story comes out, it completely obliterates the other. No one has even mentioned Ferguson of late. And knowing the media, they won’t relent until that guy in charge of the NFL resigns. They’ll keep at him, and maybe he will resign, but in the end that’s not going to change anything or put an end to domestic violence. In fact, isn’t that always the way? Some crisis erupts and the media isn’t happy until someone resigns over it. They don’t ask, how can we solve the problem? They ask, who’s going to resign over this and when? And before you know it, they have us hooked on waiting for the answer, and dividing us into two camps: wanting someone to resign versus those not wanting the resignation. It just doesn’t make sense.

    • It is the problem, when the greater problem is a much bigger issue. The bigger issue isn’t the NFL. I don’t want Goodell’s job. I don’t even think Ray Rice should lose his.

      I want to talk about Domestic Violence in real terms. Let’s take advantage of the national dialog to talk about it.

  3. Women are in the forefront of domestic violence because they are 85% of the abuse.

    I don’t give a shit if she hit him, spit on him, called him a mother effer… this does not justify being knocked out. Believe me, he’s done this before and he’ll do it again. We just happened to see the video.

    Does he deserve his life taken away? No. Absolutely not… But he does deserve consequences.

    This has started a dialogue, which is a good thing…..

    But I am wondering why people are blaming his wife for his behavior.

    This is pure BULLSHIT. This is part of the problem of DV. Some people were blaming Kay, as well. She did this…she did that.

    I will not listen to this ridiculousness. one. more. time.

    Love you, Val & always appreciate your perspective on deed impactful issues. xx

    ****If you stand toe to toe with someone else, regardless of gender, be sure to block. You start it, be prepared for someone else to finish it***

    NO NO NO.NO NO

    • Kim, men actually make up 40% of Domestic Violence victims. This is according to the CDC. It is part of the reason I say what I say today, as a survivor of Domestic Violence. If we are going to have a National Dialog it must include all Victims, not just Women, but all Victims and it must be an honest dialog. A dialog about violence in the home and between partners, of all genders. While women are more often killed, we do not own the ground on Domestic Violence, we only own the voice that most often speaks up and speaks out. With that voice we have to make it safe for others to do the same. We have to do more than demand our own safety, we have to recognize we can also be the aggressor and we can also be the problem.

      Violence is violence. I am not blaming the wife. I do not know their relationship, nor do I know them. I believe he should have restrained her not met her with a left hook, however at the end of the day, I wasn’t there; no one but him and her were there before, during or after. Frankly, they are not poster children for this issue. They both need intervention, counseling and help. What they didn’t need is this spotlight. What they didn’t deserve is this level of scrutiny.

      To say ‘he has done this before’ is the easy answer. The problem with this is it ignores her aggression towards him. The less clear cut but more likely honest answer is, ‘they have done this before’, ‘this is part of their relationship’. If this is true it likely never ends well for her, yet she owns a part of it and it is not fair to say her violence / aggression towards him should be met with absolute pacifistic submission. This then would make him the Domestic Violence victim. Would any of us be demanding her head on the platter? Demanding she lose her livelihood? No, we wouldn’t. We would be calling him names and ignoring the problem altogether.

      I love you. I know your pain. My perspective comes from long hard thought the issue. It comes from the same place my thinking on those who tried to kill me comes from Kim. Fury, anger and eventually understanding and compassion.

    • It’s interesting that you complain that Janay Rice is being accused of inciting Ray Rice of punching her, when that’s the exact same excuse women always give when they assault men. Remember the Susan Smith case from South Carolina in 1994? Even though she was on trial for deliberately drowning her 2 young sons, her defense slipped in the accusation that her stepfather had molested her when she was younger. No sooner had she been convicted than attention turned to her stepfather and people began asking when he was going to be investigated. It was as if most everyone had forgotten the 2 helpless kids she murdered.

      Contrast that to the O.J. Simpson case, which popped up just a few months earlier. He hadn’t even been arraigned yet, and women’s rights’ activists were already calling for the death penalty. Understand that I believe he was guilty, but it seems when men are accused of committing any kind of violence against children or adult females, they’re automatically guilty until proven innocent. Then, the burden of proof seems to fall to them.

      I recall several years ago when – during a slow work day – a male colleague recounted how a former girlfriend had gotten upset over some trivial matter and slapped him. Most of our female constituents laughed, and one asked, “What did you do?” Then, I asked if he slapped her back, and all the women suddenly got antagonized. I pointed out that they laughed when the young man mentioned that his girlfriend had physically attacked him and automatically assumed that he’d done something to provoke it. But, the mere fact I asked if he’d responded in a like manner angered the women. They suddenly had the nerve to get pissed off.

      I’ve seen females physically attack males in public settings, and no one has done anything about it. People just sort of stand there and assume the man not only did something to deserve it, but can defend himself afterwards. People even mock men who are physically attacked by women, but stop laughing if the man should dare to strike back. Plenty of women use this to their advantage. I personally don’t care. If anyone – male or female – physically attacks me, I’ll fight back.

      No, it’s not okay to hit women, but it’s also not okay to hit children or men. Where’s the special law to protect the rest of us against domestic violence?

      • Alejandro, I think it is important when we have these discussions that we be sensitive to who we are having them with. While I always appreciate all sides of the debate, sometimes it is important to know when someone has a personal stake in it also.

        I have a personal stake.
        Kim, lost a sister to Domestic Violence, she truly has a personal stake.

        Val

        • Val, I’m fully aware of what I’m talking about. I have 2 cousins who barely survived abusive relationships. One of them suffered a broken jaw; she had to seek refuge in a battered women’s shelter just outside Dallas in the early 1980s. I’ve seen couples beating up on each other and / or their children in public. The problem isn’t relegated to just one group of people. I think we’ve both already agreed that violence is violence, and it’s all wrong. The gender of either the victim or the perpetrator shouldn’t matter anymore than their race, age, sexuality, etc.

  4. The other night, I had dinner with my friend, Milton, who is African American. I asked him, “What do we think of Ray Rice?” It wasn’t lost on Milton, that Janay was slapping Ray in the parking lot and the arguing continued and escalated in the elevator. Milton thinks that Ray and Janay are “a fighting couple”. He thinks that they both have a history of abusing each other. This ugly episode should have been a private family matter but it has blown up into a media circus where outside observers are being judge, jury and executioner. As a result, the media and the public are destroying this couple’s life now. It’s a tragic situation and I am sure if he could take back that left hook, he would. If they’ve learned anything, if there is a next time when their fighting gets physical, they’ll probably make sure they’re not in camera range.

    • I agree with your friend Milton. They have been together for a very long time. They have a child together and married shortly thereafter. They are not poster children for Domestic Violence.

      It truly is time for this one to die.

  5. I’m glad you spoke in a way I was sorta thinking on the Ray Rice incident. They’re abusers of one another. What we saw, she initiated and no, we don’t know what happened before. My thing is, this is not new for them. That woman knows she can’t beat that man ’cause he’s done similar stuff in private. It’s only new to us.

    • They are not poster children for this issue. I feel for them, I feel for their child growing up in a home that is clearly dysfunctional, being raised by parents that are clearly not grown themselves. He should not lose his livelihood over this though. He served out what he was supposed to do through the court system, society and most especially women should not be demanding his head on a platter and now Goodell’s head as well.

      We need to get right. If we want a national discussion let’s have one. But it needs to be a real one and we, yes even those of us who have survived Domestic Violence need to take off our victimhood and talk about all of the issues not just our own.

      • Very well stated. The child IS really the only victim. It seems, and it doesn’t justify a man’s actions, that women do things and become victims because society says they are. They’re both responsible for what happened in that video and nobody’s saying that. And now, folk are buying into the whole NFL supports violence against women. I don’t believe that. And if you’re taking this stance as a woman who’s been violated, then a discussion is definitely in order.

        • I think Totsymae it is all to simple for us to wrap our ‘victim’ mantle around us and hold ourselves inviolate forever and ever, amen. That any of us are unwilling to look beyond our personal stories at the real numbers (40% of Domestic Violence victims are men) and start talking about this issue in real terms means we want to remain the only victims so we can keep that feather in our cap.

          It is a ridiculous feather. Ugly and mean spirited. Yes, we are physically weaker and we are more likely to be killed in these situations, this is a true statistic. There are other ‘true’ statistics that mean women are more vulnerable in specific situations, still. We are not though the only victims, what we are is the most outspoken. With this being the case we have to be the light bearers, we have to make it easier for others and we have to open the doors.

          No the NFL doesn’t have a ‘problem’. In fact the statistic I saw says they have a lower incidence of Domestic Violence among their players than the national average. Is this true? Who knows, but if it is then we are simply focusing on an easy target in our outrage. Again simple ignorance.

  6. I’m glad you emphasized that it’s also NOT okay for women to hit men. That somehow always gets left out of the domestic violence debate. No one really knows how many men are victims of violent women; probably because society, in a sense, not only condones violence against males, but laughs at any man who falls prey to a vicious female.

    I certainly have a contention with the way the VAWA was rewritten to include special protections for lesbian and transgendered women. Men are more likely to be violent towards other men, and domestic violence occurs in same-sex relationships, too. But, the overwhelming majority of homophobic hate crimes are perpetrated against males; yet the VAWA is going to protect the handful of lesbian and transgendered women who may fall victim to such attacks.

    The most recent version of VAWA included Native American women because, in the past, law enforcement couldn’t arrest a suspect on an Indian reservation without permission from tribal authorities. Now, they can enter the reservation and – with the assistance of tribal police – arrest a known or suspected criminal and / or serve a warrant. That only makes sense. And, most Native Americans have no problem with the change because they want to end domestic violence in their own communities as well.

    Instead of composing special laws tailored to specific individuals, we need to treat all victims of violence the same. After all, if homicide detectives will move heaven and Earth to solve the murder of a drug dealer or a prostitute, why won’t police help a man who’s been physically assaulted by a woman?

    Violence is violence is violence. It needs to be stopped, especially within families.

  7. xxxxx

  8. Val. This is beautifully written and well done. I had no idea you were a survivor of domestic abuse; it breaks my heart for you. I have been meditating on whether to write about this story, but so far can’t get a handle on it in my style (humor does not fit anywhere in this sorry tale). I wonder if the reason the wife is defending him so passionately is because of her guilt over what she did to him (not excusing his behavior in the least)? Men and women seem to have crossed the line with each other and against their children in our society in a major way. We all (the abusers, the excusers, and the ignorers) need to stop, drop to our knees, and take a moment to repent of our sorry ways. God help us all!

    Thank you for sharing your heart in such a vulnerable and transparent manner.

    • Thank you my friend, I am good. Still have some triggers but mostly I am good. I think the issue I have is this has been in the news cycle for days now. It isn’t that important, they are crucifying this couple and it is wrong. Yes, he was wrong, but so was she and we simply don’t know what is in their lives or their hearts.

  9. Val, you put into words what so many of us survivors of domestic abuse have been thinking… I thank you for this post. As you say there is unfortunately a long line of NFL players and other men who have done similar… I am only going to add that it always makes me sad that people still ask ‘why didn’t you leave’ when instead it needs to be ‘why did he start abusing?’

    • The problem is though Christy, we also have to ask men; “why did you stay”. We have to stop thinking it is one sided, that only women are abused, that only women are victims of abuse. Yes, we more frequently come forward to tell our stories, but we are not the only victims, we are not the only aggressors.

      If we are going to have a true dialog about domestic violence, it has to be a real one. It has to be one that looks at the entire landscape. I am not excusing what Ray Rice did, but we cannot sit back and say it it is okay for a woman to slap a man, anymore than it is okay for a man to slap a woman.

      Women, men and children are dying from this plague. We need to acknowledge anyone can be a victim and we need to say enough, to all of it.

  10. To me, chilling thoughts because I don’t know the domestic violence world … yet this line in your opening stuck … I was afraid of him, I was more afraid of the streets.

    • Frank, the ‘dialog’ in the public forum never address why any person stays. It never delves into why any person returns. Everyone thinks they know, has an opinion has a judgement. It is never easy, never black and white.

      We are human, victim and abuser alike. What we forget or seem not to want to discuss is the facts, the truth. Men make up 40% of the victims. Women abuse, sometimes women are the aggressors, sometimes they start it and then call the police with the results of their aggression throwing a man in jail after the fact. Yes that does happen.

      I am not defending Ray Rice. But I am also not condemning him. We simply don’t know. I am though condemning the NFL. They have killers and drug abusers playing every Sunday. Why is this, we have to ask.

      • Like you, and not justifying his actions, i shared many of your same thoughts about her actions in the elevator .. but what was going on before entering the elevator …. we don’t know. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  11. Excellent take on a difficult subject. You are so right. It seems the nation and media, particularly, have turned away from the police brutality and clamped onto the domestic violence; almost like an excuse to change the topic. Sensationalism. More newsworthy? Well-known figure.

    Much appreciate your honesty and courage in allowing your vulnerability to be exposed. Very rare.

  12. If you stand toe to toe with someone else, regardless of gender, be sure to block. You start it, be prepared for someone else to finish it. I survived abuse, too. It makes it no less true.

    Thank you. The fact is there is no morality.
    xxx

    • Yep, you and I have had this discussion in the past. It is the truth. It doesn’t pay to think you can win these battles. This one though, it is ignorant and ridiculous. They are throwing this man to the curb to serve red meat to the yammering masses.

  13. Reblogged this on MrMilitantNegro™.

  14. I understand the silence of abuse. If you are downtrodden and worn out, how can you expect to move anywhere, least of all forward? If I can be of help, call. The hardest time is when you are alone. 😦

  15. Respectfully, Val, I think the Ray Rice incident opens dialog about domestic violence, which as you said, relatively speaking, is in its infancy as far as public acknowledgment goes. I think its a good thing that it has stirred dialog. As you said, support for domestic violence victims didn’t even exist in the ’70s. I’m grateful there are such services today. You are absolutely right in saying that it is not gender specific–both men and women are subjected to domestic violence.

    This couple may have long-standing issues. I know nothing of their lives but I suspect this is not the first confrontation they have shared. I hope they’ve been inspired to make it their last, to seek help, to stop a potential legacy of violence they carry into their fresh, new marriage. I wish them well. And, as always, I thank you for your strength, your honesty, your vulnerability in speaking about difficult topics.

    • Sue, I get people want to talk about it. However, why are we destroy his life after the fact to satisfy howls from the sidelines? This is my issue.

      We do not in fact no what is between them or what their life is. We do not in fact know whether this was the first, we can only guess. I am not prepared to destroy someone on a guess and to satisfy cries for blood after the fact.

      There is a nation crying for justice, yet we do not respond. Why are we prepared to sacrifice Ray Rice but not all the cops killing unarmed citizens?

      • Generally speaking, there sure is an increasing violence in this nation, something which, in my opinion, is getting worse with each passing decade and will only continue to do so.

  16. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    I have no words! Couldn’t have explained it better ….. Bizarro world we live in!!

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