My Words should be Enough!
Today many of us rode to work hearing the breaking news of video footage that showed NFL player Ray Rice involved in a domestic dispute with his wife. We all remember the initial story a few months ago, but now seeing actually footage has brought this abuse back into our timelines. Though Rice admitted his mistake, many onlookers voiced their discern of how his punishment lacked severity. The NFL suspended him two games after an “investigation”. NFL will now suspend players six games for their first domestic violence offense, at least a year for any subsequent instances. For many, this felt like an important step, even if it came after insufficient punishment.
Still, this does not explain why seeing the violent video caused the uproar to grow exponentially. The fact is there was doubt where that shouldn’t have been. People have reacted with great vigor and called for more punishment only after seeing this video. We have to remember the countless victims who have watched the constant coverage of the initial incident and have recanted their stories or have kept silent this whole time. Is the tremendous support for Janay Rice helping other survivors to speak out. The way we as everyday people treat victims is far more concerning than seeing actually images. It is already hard enough for a victim to seek help or refuge, the last thing they need is for someone of authority or even their own to doubt them.
We knew a man beat a woman, but a choice was made to not fully believe the victim, to not fully stand behind the woman…to disgustingly applaud the predator as he returned to work. Of course, people can say that they believed her claim the entire time and they supported a lengthy suspension. Yet, it doesn’t explain why seeing the violent video caused the uproar to grow exponentially. The fact is there was doubt where that shouldn’t have been. The league thought two games was a fair punishment. The video becoming available does not change the logic of that decision. They had doubt where there should have been none. A man beating a woman needed vivid, violent imagery to warrant a suspension labeled “indefinite” instead of “two”?
Janay Rice apologized for her role in the incident, though no action by her could ever warrant Ray Rice’s response. She didn’t press charges. She sat by Ray Rice and used the word “regret”.
What’s actually regrettable is, in this instance, in too many neighborhoods, on too many college campuses, women feel pressured to not speak out. Those who are verbally abused, beaten, sexually assaulted, raped stay silent because they are unsure of justice. They have doubt because they know they will be doubted…until some vivid, violent imagery emerges. If thE imagery doesn’t emerge, no matter their pain, there will be people who doubt their claims. There will be people who blame the victim. So, to avoid that potential stigma, they don’t open up. Because the uncertain pursuit of justice leaves them again open to victimization. Whereas arguable doubt leaves the predator shielded from absolute judgment.
A woman who seeks to speak out shouldn’t have to be “strong”. She should just be a woman who feels confident and protected in her pursuit of justice. Yet, women need the doubt, the degradation, to be dissolved before this can be a reality.
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