I have never run a marathon.
I have run many 5k races. I’ve even run an 8k. Twice, I ran a 198-mile relay race as part of a 12-person team. But I have never run a marathon.
Nor have I trained for a marathon. I’ve read training plans for marathons, marveled at the work involved in conditioning a body for such abuse. I mean, accomplishment. But that can’t give me the real life experience of actually doing the training, picking a race, carefully and methodically preparing for it through training, diet, hydration, cross training, and conditioning. While I have some ideas of what it *might* be like, I can’t say for certain how my body would react, how I would feel crossing the finish line.
Likewise, you may never have experienced abuse at the hands of someone you loved. Maybe you got in a fight once, and some regretful things were said. Maybe you’be been mistreated, taken for granted. That’s not necessarily abuse.
Abuse isn’t always just a physical act. More often there are mind games that go along with the physical trauma. And like an athlete, an abuser knows how to condition its victim, to manipulate using the victim’s value system against them, blaming the victim for the abuse, threatening the victim’s way of life if they don’t comply with demands.
|The hand that caresses her face, can be the
same one that she feels around her neck.
So, when I hear people question why Janay Rice would marry a man who knocked her out cold, I say, “Unless you’ve been there, you just can’t understand.” And the truth is– even she doesn’t understand. She only knows that she feels a sense of responsibility, and feels she can’t leave. She’s embarrassed and ashamed. She wants to make people understand that she loves him. She thinks she’s doing the right thing, believes that the last time was the last time.
To demand to know why she hasn’t left, is to ignore the fact that Ray Rice’s actions were wrong. He is the one who should be justifying and clarifying and answering for his actions. Not her.
While I’m grateful that the NFL has laid a heavy hand on Ray Rice in response to the video that was released, it was far too late. The fact that she had to receive medical treatment should have been enough to merit more than a 2 game suspension from the beginning. I have been praying for two years that the NFL would support and promote Domestic Violence Awareness month in September with as much gusto with which they celebrate healthy boobs during breast cancer awareness month.
And those of us who understand the cycle of abuse know that Janay is in more danger tonight than she was standing in that elevator with her future husband. Because tonight, he is blaming her for the loss of his job. She is cowering in fear in her home, walking on eggshells, jumping at his every demand in order to appease him for her perceived wrongs. There are no cameras with potentially viral video in her home, the place that should be her refuge, to capture his angry and violent outbursts.
For Janay, this is not over. The nightmare is only beginning.