Since that fateful elevator ride on February 15, 2014, Janay Rice has been at the center of a national discussion about domestic violence and, more specifically, how high profile cases are dealt with. I will provide a quick history of her and now husband (fiance at the time of the incident) Ray Rice’s assault case. Both Rice and Palmer were charged with domestic violence after a video was released of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of an Atlantic City elevator (2/15/14). The Baltimore Ravens tweeted that the charges were “serious”. Rice was indicted on charges of third degree aggravated assault (3/27/14). Rice and Palmer marry (3/28/14). Rice is suspended for the first two games of the 2014 NFL season (7/25/14). Additional footage released by TMZ shows Rice punching Palmer (9/8/14). This footage may or may not have been available to the NFL the entire time. The Baltimore Ravens release Rice from his contract and he is suspended from the NFL. Rice wins an appeal and is eligible to sign with any NFL team (11/28/14). The suspension and reinstatement through a technicality could be the subject of an entire post itself, but one of the often overlooked components of this case is the apology that Janay Rice had to give.
During a press conference held by the Baltimore Ravens on May 23, 2014, Janay Rice apologized for the role she played in the incident. In a much more recent interview, Janay Rice revealed that the Ravens organization pressured her into issuing an apology. This is an example of institutionalized victim blaming that cannot be tolerated in today’s climate. Pressuring a survivor of a very public domestic assault to just as publicly apologize for her role in the events is disgusting but, nevertheless, is not inconsistent with the treatment of other domestic violence survivors across the country. Let us use the treatment of Janay Rice by the Ravens organization as a discussion point for how victims of domestic violence are treated both privately and in the media.