Boggles the Mindby Barbara Kapetanakes, PsyD. on 09/09/14
Yesterday it was all over the news that Ray Rice was fired from the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL after more information, including a video, surfaced of him punching his now-wife, something which he had been accused of in March. The video shows how hard he punched Janay Palmer Rice, literally knocking her unconscious.
Here is what boggles the mind....she still married him after this happened. This wasn't a shove or a slap, something that could have happened in the heat of the moment but do little or no damage, still not OK, but more forgivable, and could just as easily have happened by either party, but it was a punch that knocked her to the floor and unconscious. I watched the video. She was unconscious. Mr. Rice tried to drag her from the elevator, shoes falling off, dress riding up, like a rag doll, laying her down in the doorway of the elevator until another person showed up. The couple was obviously arguing. I'm not sure, but I did see some comment on some social media about her having cheated on him, maybe he had just found out. Whatever happened, he may or may not have had reason to be angry, but he hauled off and hit her so hard that she dropped like an amateur in the ring with a prize fighter.
And she married him anyway.
This also boggles the mind: She made a statement, via Instagram, basically saying that the press, etc, should leave them alone, "This is our life" she says, It's "a horrible nightmare" they want to forget. She went on, "To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific." (As if the Ravens fired him to boost ratings!) She finished her announcement with, "Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is!"
Huh? Real love involves being punched unconscious? News to me.
I've seen many signs of outright abuse in my work over the years, often hard to miss: bruising, scratches, fearfulness, etc. But it's not all about punches in the face. Punches come later. First it's often control: reading your mail, going through your phone, using the GPS on your phone or car to see where you've been, separating you from your friends, telling you that your friends and family don't know what's best for you, turning you against them. Encouraging you to do things such as quit your job, break off relationships with people who don't like the abuser, loan or give him money, sign leases or loans without him co-signing, etc. Often we see insults and put-downs in abuse situations. The abuser will constantly remind you how bad you are at something, how "stupid" or "incompetent," often said in front of the children, so they don't respect the abused either. This can sometimes alternate with comments about "my beautiful wife" which keeps the abused confused and compliant. I remember being on a biking tour many years ago, and there was a couple on the trip who I thought for sure was in such a relationship. If she couldn't bike up a hill he made fun of her relentlessly in front of other people. Her posture was round-shouldered and quiet. She rarely spoke up for herself. Her husband was a boorish man who I tried to avoid for the entire week as much as I could. He never missed an opportunity to laugh at her expense or point out to others what a loser she was.
After the insults, the hitting may come, although not always. If an abuser thinks he has you under enough control, he doesn't need to hit you, you'll stay in line. If the physical abuse starts, it often gets worse over time. About 18 months ago my town had its first murder in years. In the middle of the night a man strangled his wife. I highly doubt this was his first act of abuse. I also highly doubt that this was the first time Ray Rice put his hands on his wife. Perhaps it was also not the first time she had put her hands on him (she can be seen slapping or shoving him before the punch came). My guess is that their relationship has been one of mutual disrespect for some time.
But apparently that is "what real love is" in their house. And if they have children, they will grow up to think that this is normal too. Extremely sad.
If you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, GET HELP!! Listen to your friends and family who are concerned, they are probably right. If your situation is physically dangerous, go to a shelter if need be. If there are children involved, get them to safety. True love does not involve being beaten, insulted, or stalked. Ray Rice committed a crime, and losing his $40 million is the least of what he deserves.