About Ray Rice’s Elevator Video, Domestic Violence and the Denial of Black Women’s Humanity

That woman could have died. The video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee (now wife), Janay Palmer in an elevator on February 15 has been released by TMZ. Janay lunged at him and he punched her with all his might right in the face. She fell immediately, hitting the elevator handrail on her way back and was unconscious as she laid on the floor.

I’m not sure what knocked her out first (the fist or the rail) but it doesn’t matter. She could have died. He then dragged her out of the elevator like he was taking out the trash. She laid face down on the floor as he had a conversation with a man who didn’t seem too alarmed that there was an unconscious woman on the ground.

For this, Ray received a 2 game suspension from the NFL. TWO WHOLE GAMES. That’s the equivalent of a child being told to face the wall for almost burning the house down. People have been punished more for way less serious offenses (and victimless “crimes”). Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns was given a one-year suspension for smoking weed, while Ray used his woman as a punching bag and they told him to be on timeout for 2 weeks.

They’re telling us that partaking in the puff puff pass is a more punishable offense than beating a Black woman. The NFL says they didn’t see the video until today but we don’t believe them and they need more people. A plethora of more people.

Nope Space gif

At least society is consistent in its messaging that Black women are one of the least cared for and least protected groups. “All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us.” Word to the Thrillermaker.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, in a press conference held in May, Janay apologized about the role she played in the elevator. THEY MADE THIS WOMAN SAY SORRY FOR GETTING KNOCKED CLEAN OUT LIKE A CHARACTER IN MORTAL KOMBAT! I wish I had the words to articulate how disturbing that is. She has to take responsibility for being beaten, which lets HER know that there is no one and nothing to protect her from his fist or however else he decides to hurt her. We’re out here making folks be like “I’m sorry my face got too close to his fist.” We have failed.

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Ray Rice Janay Palmer

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  1. September 8, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I am deeply saddened. I literally was shaking after I watched the initial video. Because I hadn’t seen it… but only saw the press conference… (where this ass hat had the nerve to say something about not being a failure because “failure is not getting knocked down..but not getting back up”). The fact that the irony is just lost on most people is SAD. I am hurt for her. I am disappointed in him and in the NFL. The fact that I can beat my spouse but I can’t get high…is just appalling.

  2. Michelle
    September 8, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    And he just stepped over her unconscious body like she was in HIS way. ESPN just stated his contract was terminated. I still got a bat with his name on it. Dirtbag!

    • jimmy
      September 8, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      When she first approaches the elevators did he spit on her or buck up at her? Neither is acceptable, but since you have your bat out….

      • Char Turner
        September 8, 2014 at 9:45 pm

        That’s what it looked like to me. It looked like he spit on her again in the elevator and then she reacted and then Ray Rice punched her unconscious. I was also struck by how unconcerned he was with her laying on the floor. Then dragging her out and using his FOOT to move her leg. Disrespectful and Disgusting.

  3. Evvie
    September 8, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    My bestest…yes BESTEST friend/sister for over 30yrs is married to a man who abuses her.

    I understand the dynamics of the abused (I’m also a healthcare provider who has seen DV up close). It disturbs me that society is so quick to move it along and slang shade and outright hate at those who are on the receiving end of the abuse.

    My sister has been punched in the face, nose broken and she stayed. All I could do was be her safe place to cry and vent. BUT I have stayed CLOSE even though we live so far apart. HE wants me gone, but I have no frog hair fuq to give as to what HE wants!

    When the time comes and she is strong enough to leave, I will be there to support her, even though I still struggle with her staying. I understand it’s not so simple and it’s a mental hell for her.

    She was a savvy business woman, with her own home and a good life when she met this man, he has destroyed her emotionally. It’s not as simple as folks want to believe, people want to MAKE it simple so the victim bears the brunt of the responsibility for the hell the abuser has placed them.

    Don’t EVER say what you will and won’t do when comes to a marriage. That makes it too simple, and we know it’s anything but.

    • jimmy
      September 8, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      I know you must almost feel helpless at times because you cannot MAKE things happen, but I’m glad you are there for her. My mom was on your exact position a few years ago as she was her best friend’s rock during her marriage. The parallels between the two situations are staggering. I remember the shock in my mom’s voice when she told me that bastard shot and killed her friend.

      That dear sweet lady took her vows seriously and hoped that time and love could turn a monster into a man. She never saw it coming during their courtship and she didn’t deserve to be shot 3 times, in front of her son.

      So Evvie, continue to be a solid friend. That husband of hers can’t break your bond, and he knows that.

      • Evvie
        September 9, 2014 at 5:41 am

        Jimmy your post brought tears to my eyes. I’ve told others I hope he doesn’t take her life in a rage (drunk or sober). I think she believes that won’t happen, but she never thought he would beat her and demean are either. Thank you for your words.

  4. Boo Radley
    September 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    She challenged him when he hit her ‘lightly’ the first time, so he hit her hard enough to knock her out. After seeing this, and seeing how dejected she looked in the press conference, my heart breaks that this man is literally beating the fight out of this woman–and the NFL held her hands.

    A lot of people talked about the “message she sent” by marrying him after this, but I understand. I understand the choices we make when we’ve taken our best stand and lost, when those with the power to protect us choose to look the other way…I understand, and I’m so, so sorry.

  5. Serenity
    September 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I wanna know why that woman went on and married him?

    If we want others to value us, we MUST value ourselves first

    • TT
      September 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm


    • Jabria
      September 8, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Amen, amen, and AMEN!!!

    • September 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      HER choice is not what is called into question here. Her choice to marry him, etc. Abuse is psychological as well as physical and she may have felt she had no other choice. We don’t know her LIFE or if this was the first of the 1500th time he’s hit her !! I could value myself more than Mother Oprah and still be getting my a** beat on the regular and feel I cannot stay. You’d be surprised………

    • September 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      Hmmm…I see what you’re saying but I think the main issue is this:
      No matter how little you respect yourself, it is never okay for a man to hit you.

    • Kasha
      September 9, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Fear. It’s fear. It’s survival. It’s more than just valuing oneself. I feel that people don’t understand the complexities of domestic violence. On the surface, of course, we would think she is nuts to marry the same man who abuses her, however, who is to say that marrying him was just a way to ensure that she would live to see another day? I think she married him out of fear and im certain that Ray has restricted access to any money so even if she *wanted* she cant take money and escape. It’s crazy and frustrating but her choice to marry him is NOT the issue here, but rather the fact that he thinks its okay to damn near kill her. I can only hope she gets the helps she so desperately needs and I wish that people can stop blaming her as it is not her fault.

      • Frenchie
        November 4, 2014 at 4:14 pm

        Having been a victim of DV I do understand what one feels however, having been a survivor of DV I can say this…if I were her…there wouldn’t have been a marriage. because I now live by the creed, hit me once shame on me…hit me twice call the mortician cause somebody gone need em

  6. Michael Griffin
    September 8, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Excellent article.

    Thank you.

  7. Boo Radley
    September 8, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    On a semi-related note, this story simultaneously depressed me and gave me a glimmer of hope.

  8. Annette
    September 8, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    As I look at her, I wonder who taught her to hate herself so much that she allows this man to beat her. What has she done, or think she has done to deserve being beaten. What he did is criminal, but I am more concerned about her surviving. I am more concerned about her healing and moving on from these type of relationships.

    The NFL needs to clean house. They turn a blind eye when it comes to aggression outside the sport.

  9. Christina Joy
    September 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    It bothers me to the core that Ray Rice hit a woman (his now wife) in the face like she was a punching bag….but I think we need to re-evaluate our anger at the NFL. Prior to 2007, the NFL did not have penalties for personal conduct, but according to one article I read…there has been a 61% increase in arrests since that time. There seems to be a culture that starts long before these young men become professional ball players that we need to change. I have a hard time believing this is the first incident in Ray Rice’s history……yet he became a famous football player anyway. This “I can do whatever I want because I can play ball” attitude must be changed.

    As far as Josh Gordon’s suspension goes….there are well defined rules for substance abuse that the players are well aware of. He failed 3 drug tests in college…..and now 3 failures in the NFL also. This is why he is suspended for a year and he knows it. The NFL may have to start putting suspension rules on paper for other violations (like domestic violence) but I worry that this will just compound the problem. There are tests for drug use… do you test to see if a molester is among you?

    Oh….and by the way….Ray Rice has been released by the Ravens. He is persona non grata.

  10. NC
    September 8, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    So many times, my family completely BADGER me at reunions/Thanksgivings/get togethers about why I am not with someone or married. The pressure on young, black females to “get and keep” a man is so ridiculously heavy! I can only imagine the added pressure of “getting and keeping” a NFL player….

    None of us know the true state of their relationship or their mental states. For everyone who wonders why she married him and why she is still with him- I hope we realize that everyone is not as strong as we THINK we are. And I hope we remember to PRAY we never get into a situation like that and feel helpless and to blame for someone putting their hands on US!

  11. September 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    They should have released his ass in February instead of giving him a slap on the wrist. Now they look like straight idiots for taking action now. If that tape had never surfaced, they were perfectly OK with letting him play after taking a 2 week vacation. Now they want to make it looks like they wanna give him consequences. They saw that damn tape way back them but did nothing since it hadn’t been leaked to the public. They’ve released and suspended him indefinitely NOW, after that woman had to apologize for being a victim and humiliating herself. It shouldn’t have even gotten to this point, they should have let him go when it first came up.

  12. September 8, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I am really horrified by the comments I have been reading on social media saying that the woman deserved to be knocked out like that. Someone even had the audacity to say that she “needed to learn to take a hit like a man.” My question is who deserves to be hit like that? And is that the way a person is supposed to treat someone they love? This blaming the victim is the reason victims do not come forward. Not for domestic violence. Not for rape. There is some fool raping women on my campus and the women aren’t pressing charges. Wonder why? *Sarcasm*

  13. wendyful1
    September 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Initially I was angry at both of them, him for hitting her, her for marrying him. No, I did not take into consideration he mayhave threatened her life. But reading about that possibility only made me think, she’s an American woman. She’s not some domestic who became enslaved or some illegal immigrant indebted to the coyote or triad that brought her here so what gives?
    I’m not a fool or naive or insensitive to domestic violence/abuse. I just seriously think and know in my heart that from the way he hit her and in such a public place, this isn’t brand new to either of them. I would bet all kinds of money he’s been aggressive since day one. I wouldn’t be surprised if he just lavished her with gifts afterwards.
    Where is the self love? I’m sorry but I don’t look for things outside of me to protect me. The NFL owes/owed her.nothing. What now? He has no job now because of what he did to her and tonight she’s supposed to lay in bed with him,as his lawfully wedded wife? Hell no. I hate him and men like him for being that way. I dislike the women for not knowing their worth.

    • Maxine Shaw, attorney-at-LOL
      September 10, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      ALLA DIS, wendyful1! Who even says that she’s so scared in the first place? Wasn’t she all on Instragram defending her beloved just this morning? I can’t even bring myself to look for any fucks to give – and if I found any, they sure as hell wouldn’t be wasted on her. She forgave him after he straight SHOOOOORYUKENed her ass, so why would *my* back be up about it? She married him, cheesing like she won the fucking lottery. She constantly defends him. So many women in domestic violence situations can’t leave, All I can do is hope like hell that she sees the light before she sees the light.

  14. Enneirda07
    September 8, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I agree with you 1000%. Anything else I say would already be in your argument. And when you ask if ppl would think of his wife differently had she not married, the answer would be in your words, NOPE! It would still be her fault. SHE woils have been the one that should have walked away, SHE should have stopped bothering her, SHE shouldn’t have went in the elevator. No matter what, we always find a way to blame the victim when it’s a woman.

  15. Q
    September 8, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I am happy someone is finally focusing on the victim and not the aggressor. I’m tired of seeing/reading about this sleezeball!!!

    My heart goes out to this young lady. It’s painfully obvious that this was not their first rodeo. I find myself wondering what happened in her life to to cause her to devalue herself like this? What was missing in her life that caused her to stay after time #1. I read somewhere that they are high school sweethearts. It is so heartbreaking. She has a daughter to raise, and It saddens me to know this is what that little girl is being exposed to.

    I pray every day that my husband and I are doing the right things to teach our girls to value themselves…and that they are listening and taking heed.

    It’s so sad on so many levels. I pray she finds safety and gets help to deal with whatever internal issues she may have.

  16. Tracy
    September 9, 2014 at 10:33 am

    As a survivor of DV this has shaken me to my core. Even though I’ve been out of my abusive marriage for almost 15 years now, when he hit her I FELT that punch! What was even worse than the punch (if it’s possible) is the careless regard he used when moving her unconscious body. I am beyond being consoled.

  17. Tracee
    September 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Wow is all I can say. I never saw the press conference, only heard about it. I saw the video last night and I couldn’t believe NO ONE tried to help her up, they just let her lay there in her dress!! Looked like a lady came over there to get her up, and he tried to grab he and she swatted his hand away and walked off at the end. But I’m mad at the security guard and everyone else that just stood around just LOOKING and not doing anything! The whole situation is sad all the way around to her marrying him, to him hitting her and just walking over her like she’s a piece of trash in the street to him dragging her out of the elevator like she’s some Raggedy Ann doll, and then for the other people just eyes oogling not doing anything! None of us are in their relationship and don’t know any details of how this came to be of them fighting in the first place. But the tape doesn’t lie and can’t believe he did that to her. All I can say is pray that everyone has peace and justice is rightfully served.

  18. alltooeasy
    September 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Listen, the hitting is one thing and that’s more than enough to make you angry. But the dragging of her body left me cold, lonely and speechless. I was in my feelings when I saw her hit, but when I saw him drag her like “whatever” my feelings were in ME. Rage! There is no way on earth anyone should keep a public position of influence after doing that to another human being and anyone who feels otherwise is a bona fide moron.

    I feel for her because her statement today actually made me wanna wail aloud. She is not getting it. No my sister, when a man hits you like that it is everyone’s business because violence is never a private matter. And why? Because the result of violence affects more than the people involved. The proof of this is exactly what’s happening to their lives as they know it, as we speak.

  19. notconvincedgranny
    September 9, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Let’s not pretend. Stockholm Syndrome is real, y’all. What went through this heffa’s head to make her think that spitting on a man is justification for having your bell rung like Big Ben? Mrs. Rice made that statement when the original photos were released; I wonder if she ever knew, ever SAW, was ever made to confront the monster she married. Does anyone think she’s viewed it yet? Has he? Or are they both in denial? If she chooses to stay, so be it. All outsiders need to pipe down, but remember this as a cautionary tale. Because the next thing you read might be her obituary.

  20. howlingbanshee
    September 9, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    You know how “The Human Spirit” is able to overcome all odds and accomplish anything?
    All those inspiring underdog stories that tell us “Never give up! Anything is possible! Reach for your dreams no matter how ridiculously impossible! Because SPIRIT!”

    Well, I think we’ve just seen what it looks like when the Human Spirit has been broken – destroyed even.

    And that’s just as heartbreaking as listening to a eulogy.

  21. poorblackwomen
    September 9, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    society does not care for black women, never have never will

  22. Christie
    September 10, 2014 at 8:57 am

    I feel so many things for her.
    She posted on her Tumblr (I think), that she woke up to the nightmare their lives had become, because of the media.
    It’s beyond sad that she has accepted this as her life. That maybe it was ok when they had the NFL money, but the media cost him his job.
    It’s sad that he could do worse than knock her out because he got found out.
    Firing him from playing football isn’t enough. Where are the criminal charges? He shouldn’t be made an example of, this should just be par for what happens next.
    I hope for her that the next story we hear about her isn’t that her body was found somewhere. I hope this is her impetus to leave.

  23. A416Bajan
    September 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Her body language says it all. At the first press conference, she kept her head and eyes down the whole time. She has the demeanour of someone who is controlled 24/7-emotionally, financially, possibly sexually.
    He apologised to everyone but her and then she had to apologise for her “role” in the incident. She looks very defeated and my heart breaks for her. I’m sure that behind closed doors her situation is going to be a million times worse because he is going to make her take the blame and shame for this whole sad ordeal BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. Where is her support team?? Her mother, grandmother, siblings, no family member male or female has stepped forward to support/defend her. We all need to pray that God holds her in his protective embrace and keep her safe.

  24. beth
    September 10, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    How do I put this?

    Unless she gets out and like yesterday, she’s going to be dead within a year… his hand! #realtalk

  25. September 10, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    The guy is a pro athlete. Imagine the strength of his punches. Devastating!