*I was involved in an abusive relationship for most of my teen years where I was physically, emotionally and verbally assaulted on a regular basis.
Even though I was bogged down with the misery of feeling trapped, I stayed out of a greater fear of no one else wanting me. My parents didn’t know because I hid the relationship from them and my friends were too caught up in their own adolescence to take notice.
So there I was, a young girl left to navigate the depths of an abusive relationship on my own. I made a ton of mistakes before finally seeing the light.
The tap on the wrist Ray Rice received for abusing his then girlfriend, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City casino earlier this year has caused a social media furor, and rightfully so. Players caught with marijuana in the off-season receive a harsher penalty of a four game suspension compared to the two measly games Ray will be axed from for cold-cocking his wife into unconsciousness. And yet, this isn’t the first nor the last time these athletes will get off virtually scott free for hitting women. Why does the NFL continue to mollycoddle the bad behavior of their players when women are involved? Simple…those women won’t get involved.
From my own experiences, the emotional scars of a domestic abuse victim far outweigh the physical ones. Aside from the embarrassment of hiding bruises, and blaming yourself for their behavior, most victims are so mentally warped that they become accustomed to defending the very person they need defending from. Your need to help “fix” him far outweighs your own needs and safety. Add onto that a dollop of fame and fortune as reasons to stay, and there is no surprise that Janay (now his wife) is the number one person working overtime to make this whole fiasco go away.
Her choice to stay with Rice desensitizes every response that follows. Sympathy lessens, concern weakens, and the majority of us accept that although the abuse is deplorable, her choice to stay diminishes the crime. Palmer has done more grovelling during the publicity process than her husband has–even going so far as to tweet an apology “for the role she played in the incident”–which in turn softened the blow of his penalty.
Yes, the NFL needs to be held accountable for their apathetic treatment of this situation, but as a former victim of domestic violence I am more concerned about Janay’s well-being through all of this. I pray that her attempt to protect the survival of her relationship doesn’t wind up costing the survival of her life.
Tanya Tatum is the outspoken host of “The Tatum Talks,” a live Blog Talk Radio show focusing on African-American interests. Listen to some of her best episodes here. You can also join her for a daily discussion on Facebook and follow her @TheTatumTalks on Twitter.