September 8, 2014

"Why Doesn't She Leave?": Ray Rice, and Why Victim Bl/Shaming is Stupid

(Ray Rice, wife Janay, and their daughter Rayven)

My parents have been married 37 years. My parents are still together.

My father, an ex-cop, returned from the military shortly before I started 5th grade. Before that, I had a dream like vision of my dad, a super strong military man who visited on leave. I didn't know they had technically been legally separated since I was about 3 and his stint in the military was for him to "get his life together". 


My father beat my mother more times than I could remember. Or that I can remember because I've blocked most of ages 8-18 out. My father was abusive,neglectful, controlling, manipulative and in some ways still is. He had several children outside his marriage. He had no remorse, felt no guilt, and did what he pleased. When he got out the Army, he was underemployed and drank a lot. That's stopped......(the drinking that is). When he became gainfully employed, money made it worse as he could exert all his control with his purse strings. 

But despite all of this...despite the fact that he'd pulled a gun on her and drug her into the yard.....despite the fact that he's torn doors down in the house....despite the fact that he's made a scene more than once in public (most memorably at my maternal Grandfather's funeral).... my mother remains with him.

My parents, again, have been married 37 years. Maybe 1 of those years was a "good" year. I wouldn't know because I never bothered to ask my mother.

As I saw the Ray Rice video leaked from TMZ today flood my FB timeline, I thought, "Surely, now with THIS type of evidence, something can be done". This man got a slap on the wrist. Poor Mike Vick is still being assaulted by PETA , paid his debt, but this man, Ray Rice was only sitting out two games. Another dude was busted for weed. Let's face it..he's a habitual weed smoker and got 1 year suspension.

 And then it was over. His contract was terminated. He is banned from the NFL. My thoughts quickly turned to his wife Janay. Would she feel the wrath of him not having a job? Would she leave? Or would she just stay?

On FB, the court jesters of opinions, folks are weighing in. Some are blaming the media. Some are blaming the NFL for perpetuating and condoning the behavior. Why did they sit on this tape for months and it wasn't until TMZ supposedly leaked it that they wanted to take a harsher stance? But most disappointingly, most people are blaming Janay Rice, who stood at a press conference just months early,  basically apologizing for causing shame to HER husband, for getting herself knocked out, and for causing a stir with the Ravens organization. People, especially women, were of the belief that she provoked him. Even if she shoved him, his frame and body are built and conditioned to hit hard and with force. Those are no excuses. I wept as I watched Janay sit there with her eyes downcast, rubbing her hands together feverishly, as if she was going into her own cocoon. As if she was rubbing a genie's lamp, hoping she's disappear. She avoided all contact and just felt as though she was reading from a script like a mindless zombie.  The fact that Ray Rice said (in the press conference w/ his then fiancĂ©)  "I won't call myself a failure. Failure is not getting knocked down...it's not getting back up". Sometimes you gotta laugh at the irony to keep from crying cause this fucktard is just........... clueless.

Shameful.

 We will never know why, even after that incident, she chose to marry him. We will never know why Janay stays (if she stays at all) or why any woman in abuse stays.  Everyone has a different reason. But what I do know is that we cannot blame the victims. We cannot say the media and Janay are "trying to bring a black man down". He brought himself down by laying hands on her. No matter how much counseling he will get, he will always be a woman beater.  Even those in "recovery" still get labeled... A recovering drug addict is always one relapse away. 

It has taken me most of my life to realize that. I harbored so much resentment toward my mother for staying with such a lying, cheating bastard like my Father.  But she had her reasons. I remember her once saying "I take my vows seriously. I know when I die, I did what was right". So serious she is in her devotion that she was willing to subject herself to more than I could bear. She grew up in a 2 parent home. Her father, to my knowledge, wasn't abusive but he did drink in his older years. Perhaps my mother wanted the same for her children. My mother has been chronically ill most of her life and mors recently dependent on my dad for, among a lot of things, health insurance and as her health increasingly gets worse, she is more and more dependent on him as a care giver no matter how poor he is at it.  "DEPENDENT".  That is the key word.

Men are saying "Well Janay got a baby and is staying to get that check".  I know a lot of people have endured a lot for money  and sold their souls but to reduce to her a gold digger willing to be a punching bag is absurd. Even Evelyn Lozado left Chad Johnson when he headbutted her. Gold digger or not..she had good fortune of leaving with her life. Perhaps Janay doesn't have that option. Perhaps her family is saying "but he's a good man" "think about the money or "Dont anger him .. stay for the baby..." or whatever rationalization they can think of. This is all speculation.

What I am sure of is that we need to pray for Janay, her safety, and the safety of their child. And for Ray's sanity.  Even if she leaves him, she isn't completely safe from his wrath of abuse or worse. 

No matter how many times my mother stayed at my aunts house. No matter how many times my father yelled or screamed. And no matter how much he lie(s)d ...my mother always goes back. Well... went back. Right now she's there until she death does them part. She once lamented to me "where will I go? Who will want me?" She was a disabled retiree with no college degree and no savings.  Janay's dreams may be wrapped up in the same packaging-- a woman who sees no other options. Who knows...

I never really have talked about this part of my life. And if you ask my mother, she has a "selective memory" when it comes to those darker days. I remember some. My brother remembers as it was part of the impetus for him moving out at age 18. But I do know it's affected me in a huge way. Will I ever be in Janay's position? Or my mother's? I pray to God that I am not.


But I also have the insight and foresight to not judge or shame the women who are. 

We have to have empathy. We have to be compassionate. We have to be better human beings.

For Janay and all the "other" Janays. 

Even those who are old enough to be your mother....

1 comment:

  1. YOU are a PHENOMENAL WOMAN, and; so is your mother!!!

    ReplyDelete

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