Part of the discussion after the fall out from Ray Rice being indefinitely suspended from the NFL has been the fact that at this point in time, Janay his wife, is staying by his side.
As a domestic violence advocate, I am very concerned for her safety. She showed visible signs of fear and intimidation during the May press conference; expressing shame and guilt from “her contributions” to the incident. Her tweet from earlier this week blamed the NFL and the media for her husband losing his job.
The voice of the domestic violence advocate has been missing from this conversation. There are very important clinical indicators and psychological factors that can explain why victims stay. Primarily, it takes an average of 7 times for a woman to leave before she leaves for good. She is 75% more likely to be killed if she leaves. We do not know where Janay is in this process. We do know how dangerous her particular situation is.
We must understand the barriers to leaving that exist for each victim to understand how to intervene. We must make the help accessible and non-judgmental. Victims that come from upper celebrity class are actually very isolated. She may be afraid of accessing professional help due to information leaking out to the media. Part of the power and control dynamics of domestic violence is limiting the victims contact with family and friends. Janay is very alone right now.
These external factors collide with the internal, psychological and emotional reasons a victim stays. Janay and Ray have been together from a very young age and share a child together. She may be traumatically bonded to Ray, feeling like she will die without him. A victim is often unable to see the batterer’s behavior as abusive due to the mind control she is under.
Ray showed how dangerous and lethal his fist is. Janay is at risk for further abuse, especially now that he has lost his job and lifestyle. One of the characteristics of a batterer is to blame others for their actions. The NFL and media might be the target initially, but I fear Janay will be next.
Janay, we in the domestic violence community are here for you. There is a very large network of women helping women from all walks of life in shelters and accessing services to escape domestic violence. We watch the news and stand in solidarity with you even as you stay and we will be here for you when you need us. Please consider how dangerous he is and you and your daughter’s safety is our first priority. Give us a chance to help you.