Monday, September 8, 2014

DV in the NFL - My .02 on Ray Rice

As the entire world knows, a new video surfaced today of  the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.   This video is what happened inside the elevator.   We all saw the aftermath when a very drunk Ray Rice is trying to get an unconscious Janay Palmer out of the elevator.   The aftermath video may be the only one the NFL saw when they imposed the 2 game suspension on Rice.   Janay herself also accompanied Rice to his meeting with Goodell and pleaded for a light suspension.   What was she going to do with her abuser right there?   Say "suspend his ass forever?"

I even defended Rice after the aftermath video.   The story at the time was that she hit him first.   Hey, someone hits you, you are entitled to self-defense.   Now could you make like Jay-Z and not hit back when struck by a woman?   Sure.   But it is not wrong to defend yourself.   And he was drunk, he might not have realized how hard he hit her since his reflexes were affected.

I stopped defending him after the joint press conference.   Everything he said set off abuse alarm bells in my head.   He was clearly all about control in his talk about "being the head of the family" and "leading."    Again, Janay now Mrs. Rice was right there taking the blame.    Because abused women believe that.   "If only I hadn't provoked him, he wouldn't have hit me.   I know how he gets."   Make no mistake, before the first punch lands, the abuser has mentally abused the victim into believing she deserves it.  

Then the interior video surfaced.   It showed that Rice lied about what happened.   Janay never laid a hand on her.   I don't care what someone says, you don't hit.   You. Do. Not. Hit.   I don't care if it is most vile disgusting thing you have ever been called.   You. Do. Not. Hit.

But face it, the Ravens and the NFL knew he hit her hard enough to knock her out.  That only got him a 2 game suspension.  He got cut and suspended indefinitely for lying about the circumstances that preceded the hit.    The take away here is "Hit your fiancee, just don't lie about it."

Okay she married him.   Why?   Who nows?   They have a kid together.   Maybe he told her he would get custody of the kid because he had more money.   I see this all the time in my practice.   I explain and explain how custody is decided.   In Maryland, the judge must consider any incidents of dometic violence when deciding custody.   The judges have been educated that if domestic violence happens it is not always just confined to the parent and that even witnessing it affects the kids.   I tell my clients that.   They still believe that the barely literate moron they married can somehow manipulate the system in their favor.   That deispite laws about custody, marital property and alimony, the abuser will get everything and the victim will be homeless with just the clothes on her back.   These folks don't even have close to the resources of Ray Rice.   With his millions (even cut he gets $25 million) she knows he has the resources to get a good lawyer who can make things difficult for her.    Who knows what resources she has?    If she even believes she can try.   Remember I said above about the mental abuse?    Yeah, that could be in play here.   She's been told no one will love her like he does, that she is no good, that is it is her fault, etc.   When you believe that, why not stay?   You certainly don't believe you can make it without your abuser.

The Ravens have cut him.   The NFL suspended Rice indefinitely.   Sounds great right?   I'll believe in the ban from the NFL if he never plays another down.   But the reality is, there are different rules in the NFL for good players versus marginal players.   Rice is a very good player.   He can apply for reinstatement next year.    If he promises never to lie again and has taken some anger management classes to show what a great guy he is, I will not be surprised if Goodell decides to "give him one more chance."

The other aspect of the cut and suspension is what will happen with Greg Hardy of the Panthers?   He has already been convicted of assaulting his pregnant girlfriend, but the case is appeal.   He played Sunday.    Ray McDonald of the 49ers has only been arrested.   In this country, innocent until proven guilty.   Let's see what happens if he is convicted.   If he is not convicted,  the NFL should think long and hard about punishing him.   Sure the NFL doesn't need a conviction to suspend someone.   Sure not being convicted means legally didn't do it.   But the NFL can protect the Shield and suspend anyway if they think there were manipulations (like paying off the victim to not testify or the victim was intimidated into not testify) to avoid the conviction.   Either way, the NFL better get all the evidence before deciding again.   And meet with the victim separately, thank you very much.

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