Ray Rice controversy awakens domestic violence awareness


Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

The life of NFL star Ray Rice has been unfolding in the public eye after surveillance camera footage was released by TMZ of Rice assaulting his then-fiance Janay Rice. The Rices’ situation has caused a lot controversy but has also brought attention to an issue that is often overlooked: domestic violence.

Domestic violence is a recurring issue with some big public figures and impacts the lives of many Americans. The Rice incident, while bringing attention to the severity of domestic violence, has caused some people to become insensitive to the seriousness of this issue.

Kinesiology sophomore Larens LeSure said he feels that people overreacted to this incident.

“I don’t believe he should have lost his job. He already got trial for it, he got his suspension. I don’t think he should have been suspended indefinitely,” LeSure said. “He was wrong for hitting a female, but in the heat of the moment, people make mistakes … he is 27, and this is his first offense. He was drunk as well … (Janay) is not mad. They’re married and they are working things out.”

Rice was originally sentenced to a two-game suspension after the incident was reported to officials in March. After the video was released by TMZ, Rice was immediately removed from the Baltimore Raven’s roster and dropped from all commercial endorsements.

Several fans were upset about Rice undergoing double jeopardy punishment for the same incident. This anger has caused some to think his off-the-field behavior is acceptable.

“It’s pretty sad because so many people look up to NFL players. This is a negative reflection of him and it was a selfish act. You can’t do certain things when you are a NFL player or famous (in general) because people are going to judge you,” said education sophomore Ke’uana Walton.

Rice’s second suspension caused so much outrage that “Ray Rice” was trending on social media for three consecutive days. The video footage sparked debate on almost every daytime talk show and news channel.

It is unfair for the NFL to suspend someone twice for the same situation, but the reality is Rice’s surveillance video could not be overlooked. The incident has exposed the NFL’s poor policies and its inattention to women’s issues.

The NFL should pay more attention to the policies they have in place. The fact that prior to this incident there was only a two-game suspension for players arrested for domestic violence is just sad. It should not have taken the Ray Rice incident for the NFL to change the policy.

The NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, should have stuck by his poor decision of the two game suspension. Even though it is a bad policy, Goodell changing his decision has brought even more attention to the incident and caused many to question NFL policies.

Rice’s wife Janay has been under a lot of scrutiny because not only is she staying with Rice, but she is also defending him. Many media outlets and fans have slandered her online.

Freshman Uchechi Ebinama explained her frustration with domestic violence.

“It is unnecessary, and there are other ways to solve problems. People in relationships should respect each other,” Ebinama said. “(Domestic violence) has been around so long, but instead of violence being prevented, it’s happening more and women are continuing to be mentally and physically abused.”

According to safehorizon.org, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime. Unfortunately, the majority of these incidents will never get reported.

Furthermore, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported that almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner.

Since this public incident has occurred, more people are reporting domestic violence cases, and domestic violence help center hotlines have been constantly ringing.

This is an improvement over the usual silence that victims keep rather than speaking up. Domestic violence is often looked over because so many people feel too embarrassed or humiliated. Victims should be protected and not be fearful of the judgment they might face from others.

Domestic violence is not acceptable and should not be tolerated. It doesn’t matter how great of a player Rice may be — he is a human being and should be accountable for his actions.

Rice should use his mistake and influence with youth to help educate them to manage themselves when upset. He could become an advocate for so many young men and women with violent tendencies. His football career may be over, but his life will continue, and with it he should try to make something positive from this situation.

There are many domestic violence victims all over the world, and this issue should be discussed more. Don’t be afraid to speak for your loved ones or friends who are in abusive situations; it could make a difference.

Opinion columnist Faith Alford is a journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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