(Rene note: I saw this posted by my Facebook friend and in light of the video showing NFL player Ray Rice beating is then-fiance, I asked her to share her story. Below is a gripping depiction of domestic violence.. from the inside)
I have remained mostly silent during the recent conversations about domestic violence in general, and Ray Rice in particular. I have come to discover that some people that I know to be extremely intelligent in so many other ways hold disappointing views on this topic. I share my story in hopes of enlightening those that may struggle to understand this dynamic.
It has been about 20 years since a man that I loved and trusted lost his temper and punched me – twice – in my face and put a .357 magnum to the back of my head. He was 6’4” and 230 pounds. My eye socket was nearly broken.
As much as I hate to believe it, I know some of you are wondering what I did to deserve it. Know that this question is insulting, insensitive and says more about you than you’d care to know. For the record, my presence in the house was provocation enough for a man that was spoiling for a fight. We weren’t even arguing, although he was trying to start one. More important, understand that there is NO justification for this behavior.
As much time has passed, I will never forget what I felt that night: shock, terror, anger, heartsick, vulnerable, confused, alone. My next thought was – SURVIVE. In a house full of guns (he was a cop) and having just had one pointed at me, survival was not a given. Fortunately I was able to call 911 and I was safe – for the night.
Later, his sister shared that their father was abusive, beating their mother into unconsciousness and playing Russian Roulette with a gun in her mouth in front of them as little kids. My ex was also a former Marine and had witnessed horrible things during the first Gulf War. He was damaged. He needed help but he wouldn’t seek it, either because of denial, a lack of emotional intelligence, pride, whatever. Even when ordered by the court, he didn’t commit to the process.
I did not stay – my feelings for him died that night. But I also knew that eventually he would make bail. My survival instinct kicked in big time. I accepted his apologies but quietly held firm that “we” were done. I didn’t join those that sought to vilify him; I just got away. He went on to marry a woman with a 7-year old son, who had been warned (by HIS friends) that he was violent. She could be seen wearing turtlenecks in the summer to cover the bruises. She eventually escaped in the dead of night after spending months stock-piling enough money to survive. I have no idea of the fate of the next wife – she may be dead.
The experience left a scar on my spirit. But as my pastor said this morning, a scar is nothing but a healed wound. So I’ve moved on and I’m stronger today for surviving it.
There are those that seek scenarios where it’s OK to strike a woman. “She hit me first; she should expect to get hit back.” “She was out of control.” “She was throwing things; I felt threatened.” Let’s face it: in the absence of the most extreme of circumstances – a woman brandishing a gun perhaps – a violent response is unnecessary. A man using violence against a woman is the imposition of power, control or hatred. And if you’re arguing excuses for violence against women, it begs the question: What’s YOUR damage?
Our community is quick to recognize excessive force when the police attack one of our own. A man is brandishing a knife and the cop shoots him in the head because he felt “threatened.” We are quick to list the alternatives to diffuse the situation: pepper spray, taser, shot to the leg. Yet we fail to recognize excessive force in domestic situations. There is always an alternative. Grab her in a bear hug and hold her arms until she calms down. Call for help. Leave the area. You have choices.
Janay Rice needs help. We don’t know her story. She may have witnessed abuse, or suffered at the hands of others, and think this behavior is normal or expected. Marrying him may have been an act of self-preservation; they have children together. She will be linked to Ray Rice as long as their children are alive. Her support may very well be about her own safety. We should not judge her – we should pray for her.
Ray Rice needs help. We don’t know his story. He may have been abused or witnessed abuse. More than 50% of men that witnessed abuse as a child will become abusers themselves. What we DO know is that he lacks the skills to handle anger. He should be punished, because actions have consequences. And IF he gets the help he clearly needs, he should get a second chance in the NFL. Let’s not forget, God is a God of forgiveness and second chances.
There but by the grace of God.
I’m going to leave this right here.
Allyson (last name withheld) is Vice President of a civil engineering and construction management firm. She is responsible for helping expand the firm’s business throughout California, Nevada and Washington, specializing in the management of large building programs at K-12 and community college districts. She completed her studies at the University of California Berkeley, with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and a Master of Architecture. She also graduated from Southwestern University School of Law, and is a licensed attorney. In her spare time, she is a Cal Ambassador, representing the University of California Berkeley at 10 to 15 college fairs for high school and community college students. Allyson is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority where she concentrates her volunteer time working with programs that focus on at-risk youth. Originally from Sacramento, California, she now resides in Los Angeles.