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Some Common Reactions to the Ray Rice Incident Piss Me Off

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I am not a sports fan. My husband is a huge football fan, but I manage to tune most of it out, lumping it in with the steady drone of the washing machine, iPod games and endless requests for cookies. But when I heard about the recent suspension of Baltimore Raven Ray Rice, I instantly became VERY interested.

We all should be interested in the Ray Rice situation.

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If you are unfamiliar with what is going on, the NFL issued Ray Rice with a two-game suspension and a $529,411.24 fine, which is the total of his salary for three games. And if you’re thinking that a person earning that much money in three games is outrageous, wait until you hear why he’s suspended in the first place.

On February 15 of this year, Rice was captured on video, dragging his unconscious girlfriend (now wife) out of an elevator in Atlantic City. Rice apparently knocked her unconscious during an altercation and has pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault. He avoided trial by being accepted to a pretrial intervention program in May.

How nice for him.

Many are outraged at the leniency of his punishment and have called for stricter NFL penalties when it comes to domestic abuse. But others? Upon release of the video, “I need to know more first” was thrown around quite a bit.

I need to know more.

Having grown up in an abusive home, the phrase “I need to know more” is offensive to me. “I need to know more” is “I want to know if she did something to deserve it,” disguised as being thoughtful and fair. It’s unacceptable.

This isn’t just about this particular incident, the NFL or Ray Rice as a human being. This is about the world we want our daughters and wives, girlfriends and sisters to live in.

“He seems like a good guy, I’m sure he just messed up.”

I hear that one a lot too.

Let me tell you a little secret — abusers carefully craft their public personas. It is important to be liked and important, as many abusers have egos that demand to be fed. How else can you justify hurting a woman, unless you think you deserve to?

You see a good person because it is what they want and need you to see.

This isn’t just about this particular incident, the NFL or Ray Rice as a human being. This is about the world we want our daughters and wives, girlfriends and sisters to live in. This is about the fact that every time a Ray Rice gets a slap on the wrist, it’s just another piece of the narrative whispered in an abused girl’s ear.

“They might think you deserved it.”

“They might not protect you.”

“They might not even care.”

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Rice has since apologized to the public, saying "I let my wife down, I let my daughter down, I let my wife's parents down, I let the whole Baltimore community down,” and swearing that it was an isolated incident.

Can Ray Rice be a better man? Does he deserve a chance to turn over a new leaf? Possibly. But does he deserve to be paid millions of dollars playing for the NFL? Does he deserve to have his name plastered on jerseys worn by adoring fans?

Absolutely not.

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