There has been an abundance of media coverage in the past weeks concerning Ray Rice, domestic violence and the penalties he’s received from the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens. There was public outrage at a two-game suspension, which led to a reversal in approach by the NFL and the Ravens.

Rice’s contract with the Ravens has been terminated and he is indefinitely suspended from the NFL.

That is a more just outcome for hitting his fiance in the head, leading to unconsciousness. The violence Ray Rice displayed is dangerous, criminal and potentially lethal.

Twitter is full of tweets asking why his wife stays. How could she have married him after this beating? Why does she not leave him? The fact is that Janay Rice has a right to her privacy and no one has walked in her shoes. No one really knows her reasons for staying.

The dynamics of domestic abuse are very complicated and intertwined. A pattern of control over another person creates a victim who is afraid, who feels they are incompetent to be on their own, who have no financial resources, and who feels they are responsible for the happiness or anger of their abuser. We know that victims say and do what they need to do to keep themselves and their families safe.

Tweets that particularly rang true for me include one from a former victim who wrote: “Why did I stay: I didn’t want my kids to be without a father. Why did I leave? I left because I did not want my kids to be without a mother.” Or another: “I stayed because I thought I could change him.”

We regret the impact of violence on anyone, but if there is a positive here, it is the dialogue that is publicly taking place. Kim Gandy, executive director of The National Coalition to End Domestic Violence said that “This is the largest and most public discussion of domestic violence that I have ever seen. Domestic violence is not a private family matter, it is a crime and society must treat it that way.”

Safe Voices is here to assist victims. Last year we helped almost 2,000 men, women, and children in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties to find their voice, their resources, and their best options for safety. Our 24-hour help line number is 1-800-559-2927; website:

Jane Morrison is the executive director of Safe Voices.

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