“I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night…I love Ray, and I know that he will continue to prove himself not only to you all but the community, and I know he will gain your respect back in due time [1].”
– Janay Palmer Rice

This was the statement Janay Palmer made at the first press conference she and her then fiancé Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, held after Rice knocked her unconscious in an elevator at the Revel Casino & Hotel in Atlantic City.

The couple were married one day after a grand jury indicted Rice for 3rd degree aggravated assault.

The Ravens released Rice from his contract in response to the public outcry after video of this incident was circulated. Rice is seen delivering a left hook to the smaller and weaker Palmer while the two bickered, then dragging her body carelessly into the hall.

Much has been said about the penalties the team and NFL should have imposed from the outset. Formal standards have now been put in place, regarding domestic violence.

Two questions, however, remain. Why would a successful football player feel the need to coldcock the mother of his child, a woman he claims to love? And why would the victim of his assault feel she should apologize for it?

This is, of course, typical behavior. Domestic violence victims reflexively assume blame, as if some action (or inaction) on their part could have justified the violence inflicted on them.

Sometimes this is not so much a matter of misplaced responsibility, as an attempt at self-protection. The dominant partner can be expected to retaliate for any negative repercussion from his own actions, causing the victim yet further harm.

And victims are hopeful, after an attack has taken place, that this was the last time. Hope is, in fact, an essential stage in the cycle of domestic abuse. Abusers become temporarily repentant, showering the victim with gifts, promising to change. In the vast majority of cases, such promises are worthless. The violence only escalates with time.

Again, why? Palmer’s statement provides a clue. She refers to the respect Rice has lost, as a result of his assault on her.

At this point, Rice was still talking about the assault as if it had been a storm that engulfed them both (not a criminal act on his part), something sudden and external over which they – meaning he – had no control.

While Rice has since taken responsibility for the assault and apologized to his wife, abusers frequently feel they have been disrespected by those who “should” love, obey, and be grateful to them. This generally reflects a fragile ego, and volatile temper on their part.

Victims, on the other hand, do not view themselves as entitled to respect. Continual abuse wears away whatever self-esteem they may have had on entering the relationship.

Family members may actually counsel women to remain in abusive relationships, particularly relationships which are financially secure. Abuse is viewed as a trade-off for security, a small price to pay.

The couple have sought counseling.

[1]  Heavy, “Janay Palmer, Ray Rice’s Fiancee, 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know” by Paul Farrell, 2/16/14, updated 9/8/14,



Filed under Justice, Law, Sports, Violence Against Women

2 responses to “Respect

  1. Marcella Rousseau

    And their daughter will continue the legacy.

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