On Ray Rice and why it doesn't matter if she stayed

As many of you are already aware, a new video of Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, surfaced on Monday that showed him punching his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in the head. In May, a video of Rice dragging her, unconscious, out of the elevator he apparently punched her in, was circulated widely. Back then the Ravens chose to only suspend him for two games and had Palmer and Rice show up at a press conference in order to present an image to the public of everything being a-ok. The Ravens Tweeted:

“Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.”

I imagine everyone was very comforted to know that Rice’s now-wife apologized for her own part in being punched in the head. (The Tweet was recently deleted)

So first of all, it’s not as if it weren’t obvious, when we all saw the video of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator in Atlantic City, that something sketchy was going on. Beyond that, even if the Ravens want to pretend the earlier video wasn’t telling enough, it sounds like, in all likelihood, the NFL and some Ravens officials had already seen the other video which showed Rice punching Palmer.

Rice has now been let go from the Ravens, but basically the NFL and the team didn’t really care about the abuse until they were forced to, because the video went public and could no longer be denied.

But now, even with the damning video, the defenses and excuses continue.

“She provoked him” is always a classic. I got that one too. “But you guys were fighting, weren’t you?” I was asked, oh-so-innocently. Another favorite seems to be “She married him, though!” which translates to “She chose this” (i.e. she was complicit in or consented to her own abuse). The argument that Palmer married Rice for the money, despite his abuse, is also being tossed around enthusiastically — I mean, she must be very greedy to have chosen abuse in exchange for financial security (which is to say: she is a bad person and deserves what she gets).

Today, Palmer has been defending Rice on Instagram:

“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend,” she wrote.

“But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret everyday is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his [butt] off for all his life just to gain ratings is a horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!”

Surely she’s “asking for it” now, they will say.

But here’s the thing. Palmer is free to make whatever choices she likes and if she chooses to stay with, marry, or defend her abusive husband, that still doesn’t mean she deserves abuse. It still doesn’t make what he did ok. And she still deserves not to be judged and blamed for standing by this man.

Women marry their abusers, like, all the time. Women go back to their abusers. Women defend and protect their abusers. Women often love their abusers.

You can bet Palmer feels empathy and sympathy for Rice. She probably does love him. She more-than-likely hopes and believes he will change. He has probably promised to change many times. This is old hat. Women who have been in abusive relationships know exactly how it goes and how it feels. It’s not easy to believe that someone who claims to love you and who you feel love towards would hurt you. Of course we hope they will stop. Of course we want them to change and want to believe they will. Abusive men aren’t all abusive 24 hours a day. We hang on to the good moments — that’s why we stay.

Abuse is a mindfuck. We are made to feel dependent on our abusers. We feel embarrassed and ashamed at what we’ve been put through, what we’ve “put up with,” at the verbal and emotional abuse we’ve been subjected to. At the reality of our lives and the crazy, humiliating, inexplicable behaviour we’ve witnessed. How can you tell someone those things? Surely no one will understand… Our self-esteem deteriorates. We become isolated from our support systems. We feel we can’t ask for help because we’ve left and gone back so many times over and we know our friends and family are sick of it. We feel judged and we feel stupid and we feel weak. We are strong women and we know better. We feel like we can take it. We can cope. We compartmentalize — shutting the bad stuff out. We tell ourselves it isn’t so bad. We really, really want it to get better. He says he’ll go to counseling. He says he’ll stop drinking. He says if only we’d change our tone of voice or our body language or be gentler or kinder or more thoughtful… If only. We stop trusting ourselves. Is it our fault? Is this normal? Maybe I did provoke him…

Abuse isn’t as simple as you want it to be. It isn’t clear cut. It isn’t easy to leave. It isn’t easy to give up on someone we care about and have invested time and energy and emotion into. But no matter what Palmer does, no matter what she feels or says, it doesn’t make his actions ok. And it doesn’t mean she deserved it.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • C.K. Egbert

    If our legal and social systems did as they should–protect victims from violence–then this would not be a discussion. Regardless of whether a woman “chooses” to leave, or whether a woman sees it as abuse, society has a responsibility to protect her bodily integrity and punish the perpetrator.

    It’s very frustrating to me to hear of domestic violence as though this is a problem that we can’t solve, as a problem of convincing women to leave, when we could easily solve it if we only started putting perpetrators in jail and giving women adequate economic/social resources. Women are only unsafe because the police and courts do not want to protect them; in the US we have hundreds of thousands of jails and the police have military grade weapons. It’s not because of a lack of infrastructure or force…

  • bella_cose

    I definitely agree. I hear people try to excuse the actions of abusers, and frame the women as complicit, all too often.

    While I am sorry that Palmer feels like the attention she and Rice are getting is intrusive, and that what happened between them is a private matter, I hope someday she will come to understand that violence agaist women is never private. Those of us who are refusing to let this go, aren’t doing so to pick on her, or make her life harder. We’re just sick of seeing women being beaten and murdered by men, and we’re not going to accept excuses and half measures anymore.

  • Leigh Ann

    I don’t get why he wasn’t prosecuted. She does not have to press charges. The state should simply take the case. Why hasn’t it?

    • C.K. Egbert

      In the US at least, my understanding is that you have to press charges (the exception being murder or if the person is disabled or a minor). I can only speak for the US of course, but there are also lots of factors why people would choose not to go to the police: police brutality/corruption, the fact that police officers are usually abusers themselves, the fact that once reported they usually do nothing to protect the victim.

      But that’s not how things SHOULD be.

      • bella_cose

        Actually, I think because it’s considered a crime, the district attorney can file charges and prosecute if the abuser is indicted. In many cases though, most prosecutors probably don’t think they could win with a victim who refuses to testify. In this case, I think the prosecutor was just an ass, because as long as they could get the video in as evidence, it wouldn’t have mattered if Palmer was cooperative or not. I think most jurors would have been unsympathetic to Rice, after seeing what he did.

        • Rchen

          I think in cases of violence or anything disturbing the peace the state can press charges whether the victim wants to our not. Most crimes are prosecuted as infractions against the state., not an individual. The problem is usually lack of evidence but that doesn’t seem to be a problem here. It is indeed strange that he has not been arrested. You can’t give someone permission to commit a crime against you and make it not a crime.

    • Tadgh

      Perhaps this differs on a state by state basis ?

      • C.K. Egbert

        The general approach to the abuse of women is to say “We can’t do anything about it until she decides she wants to leave, at which point she can try to get into a shelter while her perpetrator goes free” (you are mandated to report child or elder abuse, but not domestic abuse…because women do not matter, apparently).

        Definitions of abuse varies by state to state: in fact that has been a huge hindrance to protections for women and children (some state permit physical violence against children, others do not), addressing sexual violence, anti-discrimination, marriage equality…

  • I don’t care why she stays or does not stay. I want to focus on him and I want everyone to focus on him. Why is he beating her? Why is he not in jail? Let’s stop making this about her. It’s not about her, it’s about gender violence and how the world of sports, and the patriarchal society we live in support his behavior.

  • Dolkar

    You’ve nailed it again Meghan. “Abuse is a mindfuck.” There are thousands of reasons (maybe even some good reasons!) why women stay. But it’s time to change the subject on this one: None of that makes it acceptable. None of that means she deserved it. None of that explains or excuses the abuse. We must never lose sight of that. No matter how often a woman might apologize for being punched in the head!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Right! Who CARES why she stayed??? There is no excuse for violence against women.

      • Tricia O’Toole

        There is no excuse for violence against people.

  • Bree

    Meanwhile, a guy caught on surveillance kicking a dog loses his job as CEO and the public outcry is all in agreement. However, a woman being dragged unconscious by her bf/fiance/whatever isn’t convincing enough to fire the dude and stop people from questioning her “involvement.” SICK.

    • Eve

      It is unbelievable that violence against women is ignored/accepted, but animal abuse is also completely unacceptable, and it is important to keep in mind that all abuse, and power dynamics are connected. Let’s not pretend we live in a world where punishment for animal abuse is commonplace. Animals are victims of patriarchy as well. I am glad to hear that a dog abuser is suffering consequences for his cruelty for once, and agree that Ray Rice and all abusers deserve the same.

      • Orryia

        “Animals are victims of patriarchy as well.״

        Are you serious? How can you prove that a matriarchal or egalitarian society would never have animal abuse? How is it even related?

        • bella_cose

          There is a link between people who abuse animals, and violence against people. Men tend to commit more violent acts towards people than women. Also, male abusers often harm or kill their partner’s pets in order to terrorize them and keep them in line.

        • Eve

          I am serious. I can’t say that a matriarchal society would not abuse animals. I am not arguing for a flip of the power dynamics. Hierarchies can only lead to oppression. In the patriarchy we live in, men are on top, women are thought of as less than men, and animals are thought of as less than human. Check out this website if you’re interested in the intersectionality of feminism and animal rights. http://veganfeministnetwork.com/

  • Tadgh

    AP reported today that they’d be shown a longer, better quality video, complete with audio, of the incident between Rice and Palmer. In it the two were reportedly hurling obscenities at one another, after which Palmer spat on Rice, who then knocked Palmer unconscious. This of course doesn’t make Rice’s actions in anyway acceptable, but it does provide background and context for the assault. I don’t know if this was an isolated incident or part of a broader pattern of abuse; there’s no mention of any past incidents of domestic violence on Rice’s part, so perhaps it was a once off. The fact that he avoided an assault charge is perhaps unsurprising given that he’s seemingly a first time offender, and Palmer not only didn’t press charges , but has also supported him publicly, even accompanying him to his hearing; the prosecution wouldn’t have gotten any co-operation from her. This is ostensibly (perhaps) the reason why Solange Knowles hasn’t been charged with assault for her attack on Jay-Z in May. They appear to have reconciled quickly and thus no charges have been forthcoming.

    • bella_cose

      Only an abuser reacts by knocking out someone half their size for yelling and spitting at them. This was not self defense. He’s bigger and stronger. He could have walked away, or called the police on her. There is no excuse, no context, that makes this violence reasonable or acceptable.

      • Tadgh

        It certainly wasn’t self defence, and I’d agree that there’s no excuse/context that makes his actions reasonable/acceptable; however context is always useful in providing clarity. It’s seems likely that the two were having an argument and in the heat of the moment he lashed out, brutally. He was absolutely wrong to strike her, but this would appear to be an isolated incident, as he apparently has no previous record of domestic abuse.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Why on earth would punching a woman in the head be ‘an isolated incident’?? It almost never is! And since when is ‘having an argument’ an excuse to punch someone smaller and weaker than you in the head?

          • Tadgh

            I’m only working on what I’ve read about Rice, that he apparently has no previous convictions; he’s a first time offender. I hope this is just an isolated incident, that he never again strikes anyone, no matter how heated the argument. Only time will tell whether this was an example of someone how acted horribly out of character on one single occasion, or whether he’s an inherently violent, serial abuser. Oh it’s definitely not an excuse, and apologies if I phrased it as suggesting that it was; I don’t think it’s acceptable for anyone, regardless of size and strength, to punch/hit someone in the heat of an argument.

          • bella_cose

            It is extremely unlikely this was the first time he hit Palmer, or a girlfriend for that matter. The level of violence he exhibited is not in line with a one time loss of control. This was a classic escalation. I bet he’s been shoving and slapping her for a while now. There are tons of rapists and abusers who haven’t been arrested or convicted. That’s the norm. That’s why thus is so important.

            It doesn’t matter whether it was this one time, or many times, he should be the only person of interest, and he should be in jail.

          • Tadgh

            The only person who can confirm this is Palmer; not knowing anything about their relationship beyond what’s come out over the course of the assault saga, and in light of the fact that she hasn’t mentioned or alluded to past incidents of violence, I think we should refrain from drawing concrete conclusions. I think he was right to be charged but I’m hesitant to say I’d like to see him in jail when the victim has clearly shown forgiveness; I’m reminded of other criminal cases fairly recently where the victims, or intended victim as it was in one instance, forgave the perpetrators and asked for leniency in sentencing.

            Where I live there was an incident last year in which one man knocked another unconscious in the city centre; the victim suffered serious injuries after his head struck the pavement, and was left with a permanent scar in addition to two titanium plates in his skull, but asked that the attacker be spared prison, as he had shown sincere remorse for his actions, checking on his condition in hospital and apologising for his actions. He also believed that jail wouldn’t have made the man a better person.

            Last year there was a very prominent case in Michigan where a young woman solicited a hit man to murder her husband, claiming that doing so would preclude the judgement of her family and the emotional devastation that would arise in the case of a divorce, although authorities claimed a $400,000 insurance claim was the motive. During the trial however her husband forgave her, and asked that she be shown mercy. Of course a line has to be drawn somewhere, and in this instance not incarcerating the defendant for some period of time was clearly not an option.

            I’m conflicted in the Rice incident; on the one hand he brutally attacked his wife ( or fiancee as she was at the time ) and there’s incontrovertible proof with which to prosecute him; on the other though there’s no prior knowledge of abuse and Palmer has forgiven him unequivocally; in the absence of knowledge as to whether their relationship is/was chronically abusive, I’m uncertain as to what to make of the lack of a conviction. I will say though that this does set prominent/disturbing templates for abusers, who may intimidate or manipulate their victims into pleas for leniency, or refraining from pressing charges, so with this in mind I’m hesitant to suggest that he should escape incarceration.

            I will say though, that personally I’d like to think that I’d forgive someone who assaulted me, and depending on the severity, that they be spared prison if they showed sincere and genuine regret.

          • Meghan Murphy

            There is a particular dynamic that exists between men and women in abusive relationships that you aren’t taking into account… This isn’t like stranger assault.

            “I think he was right to be charged but I’m hesitant to say I’d like to see him in jail when the victim has clearly shown forgiveness; I’m reminded of other criminal cases fairly recently where the victims, or intended victim as it was in one instance, forgave the perpetrators and asked for leniency in sentencing.”

            Victims of domestic abuse very often “forgive” their abusers — over and over again. It doesn’t change what he did…

          • Tadgh

            That’s the crux of the matter for me : whether this was an abusive relationship and whether Palmer is following a noted pattern of victims remaining with their abusers, or conversely if this was a single incident in an otherwise harmonious relationship. If it’s the former I’m considerably more inclined to conclude that Rice should be incarcerated. If it’s the latter then I’d lean towards Palmer’s decision not to prosecute for assault. I think she should make it clear to him though, in no uncertain terms, that if he ever strikes her again not only will she divorce him, but also vigorously pursue charges.

            Without knowing the full history of their relationship I can’t make any concrete conclusions beyond that his actions in that elevator were terribly wrong.

          • bella_cose

            There is no “otherwise harmonious relationship” when one partner can violently batter the other. People in harmonious relationships don’t act violently towards each other. That’s the opposite of harmonious.

            I’m sorry, but you must have a very fucked up idea of what entails a healthy relationship.

          • “That’s the crux of the matter for me : whether this was an abusive relationship and whether Palmer is following a noted pattern of victims remaining with their abusers, or conversely if this was a single incident”

            Tadgh: You did see the video, didn’t you?? How can that sort of a punch be written off as a “single incident” or given a second chance?

            I’m actually kind of disturbed by your comment.

          • C.K. Egbert

            Forgiveness can be highly ideological–consider counselors who tell women to forgive their rapists and abusive parents, a judge telling a woman who was repeatedly raped by her husband to forgive him. This is just another version of “how dare you be angry at a man for hurting you,” so that society can focus all the empathy on men and have an excuse not to punish them (all the while shaming the victim for getting the man “in trouble”). We didn’t become feminists through forgiveness but through anger.

            Given trauma-bonding, ideology, social-structural violence, women socialized into thinking they are worthless…I don’t think forgiveness is relevant to the amount of punishment someone deserves because that doesn’t change the harm that has been done to the victim. In non-abuse/non-sexual violence cases I could see remorse being a relevant factor (but once again, that has nothing to do with whether the victim forgives the perpetrator).

          • Tadgh

            Well, I’m just going to say that personally speaking, forgiveness shown by a victim to someone who has inflicted egregious harm is one of the most difficult, laudable, and inspiring acts that humans are capable of. Those who suffer at the hands of others are entitled to experience hate, anger, vengeance and a desire for justice; but those who transcend all of these and forgive always have my unwavering admiration. With regard to counselling, I believe forgiveness is good advice, so long as the matter is not pressed forcefully on the patient; ideally the counsellor might recommend it if they believe it would help in the healing process, but it would be up to the patient to decide whether or not to actually proceed to do so. With regard to the judge I’ll be a bit blunt. He/she has no right tell the victim to forgive an attacker; he/she is there to dispense justice as prescribed in the legal framework of his/her jurisdiction,and not to impress guidance on victims.

            I think it would have to be deliberated on case by case basis, taking into account the dynamics of the relationship; I don’t think there should be an automatic blanket presumption that women like Palmer are as you described in the first 2 lines of the second paragraph. For those that are, then I think their forgiveness should perhaps be overlooked in light of the conditions you listed, and the abuser should be prosecuted regardless.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Well, I’m just going to say that personally speaking, forgiveness shown by a victim to someone who has inflicted egregious harm is one of the most difficult, laudable, and inspiring acts that humans are capable of. Those who suffer at the hands of others are entitled to experience hate, anger, vengeance and a desire for justice; but those who transcend all of these and forgive always have my unwavering admiration.”

            What you’re saying and expecting here is super gendered though… Like, patience, compassion, forgiveness, etc. are all characteristics that women are expected to hold, not men. So when women are largely the victims of male violence, expecting forgiveness is just teaching women to accept male violence, in many ways.

          • “forgiveness shown by a victim to someone who has inflicted egregious harm is one of the most difficult, laudable, and inspiring acts that humans are capable of. ”

            Women forgive egregious harm all the time and I yet to see anyone lauding them for their inspirational strength.

            Perhaps in the abstract this might have weight, but in the real world the ideology of noble forgiveness operates to keep women in the position of emotional receptacle and punching bag.

          • C.K. Egbert

            There is a girl at Columbia University who is carrying her mattress around campus until her rapist leaves the university. Is she too “angry”? Would it have been more laudable for her to forgive her attacker (who has been accused of rape by other women) and not engage in any protest against the injustice?

            Forgiveness does not stop rape or abuse. Forgiveness does not give us justice. Punishing the perpetrator does.

            Asking someone to forgive their abuser is telling the victim that their suffering, harm, and injustice they endure is completely unimportant and merely reinforcing to women what they’ve always been told: that they are worthless, that they are meant to suffer. Not to mention asking someone to forgive an abuser potentially puts the victim at risk for further abuse (which they are supposed to forgive in turn?).

            If we were all to take your stance that we should just forgive all the harm that men do to us, there would be absolutely no justice, no feminist movement at all, and men would sit there and laugh while they continue to abuse and rape women.

            As for it not being a “pattern of behavior”…Should a woman forgive the first time a man rapes her, because it’s not a “pattern of behavior”? Should he only be considered a rapist after multiple sexual assaults?

          • hihello

            The fact that our culture has such a difficult time empathizing with victims (who refuse to “forgive”, i.e. refuse to disassociate themselves with their victimization in order to make their abuse more palatable for everyone else) seems weirdly similar to me to the dynamics in abusive families. Children often identify with the abuser in the famiily (father) rather than the victim (mother), and come to even feel revulsion and hate towards the victim-mother. Meanwhile they feel awe and respect for the father, and defend him even though he brutalizes the mother and terrorizes the family.

            Why are people in our culture so AFRAID to side with victims, even more afraid than they are to side with violent male abusers?

            I will say though, that personally I’d like to think that I’d forgive someone who assaulted me, and depending on the severity, that they be spared prison if they showed sincere and genuine regret.

            Why would you like to think that? Why does it matter? I think it is good for us to recognize that our culture doesn’t like victims. It likes victims who “forgive” and who are “all better now” and who are “empowering” themselves… it likes people who make victimhood more attractive than it is at a base level. Victimhood ISN’T warm and fuzzy, being beaten isn’t a nice moment where everyone can feel good and where people can have neat resolution, and where good wins out in the end. It is simply violence. Bald, base, terrorizing violence that is not sexy, is not warm and fuzzy, and from which we all shrink.

            Also, consider what sort of people do obviously hurtful and violent things, but somehow are ONLY able to feel any genuine regret or empathy with others AFTER they commit that violence. Just think about that. Why should we want to forgive people like that?

          • Stephie Smith

            Sounds an awful lot like mansplaining to me.

          • corvid

            “He was absolutely wrong to strike her, but this would appear to be an isolated incident, as he apparently has no previous record of domestic abuse.”

            He now does have a record of domestic abuse…. starting the moment he hit her! Is it too much to ask to label abuse abuse, and not an “isolated incident” which implies it wasn’t really abuse at all, yet? This is real life, not a dress rehearsal.

          • hihello

            You hit the nail on the head. The ONLY reason someone continues to bring up anything about whether it was a “pattern” or not, is to imply that it wasn’t “real” abuse. He isn’t “really” an abuser. it is a way of raising the bar (read: moving the goalposts) for what makes an abuser, in order to let a dude off the hook for beating up a woman.

            No one would ever say “Well, he only killed one of his children while driving drunk. It wasn’t a pattern of child endangerment.” or “Well, he only murdered one dog belonging to a neighbor in order to get revenge on that neighbor, it isn’t a pattern of violence.” No, in any case like these, it is obvious that the events speak for themselves and are serious– they are “real” crimes whether or not there is some “pattern.” Why is it that when women get beaten unconscious by men, it isn’t seen the same way?

          • derrington

            Yes, we recently had a case in the UK where a father had accidentally burnt to death a number of his children in order to set up his ex wife who was in a custody battle with him. He was described by the media as a loving father … seriously! I cannot imagine the media describing a woman burning to death her children to win a fight as loving …

          • lizor

            She probably did something to “provoke” his behaviour, I’m guessing…

          • Tadgh

            @Lizor

            Well, I refer to it as a single incident because Rice has no apparent history of violence against a partner, nor has Palmer mentioned or alluded to any prior occasion on which she was assaulted by him. I have indeed seen the video, several times , and I’ve already stated that his actions were brutal and completely unacceptable. But to be frank no one knows about the reality of their relationship except for Palmer and Rice, so if she wants to give him a second chance, I think that’s magnanimous of her. I also mentioned that I believe any further abuse should result in a divorce and formal charges pressed against Rice. I don’t know if this is an incidence of traumatic bonding or just genuine forgiveness, hopefully it’s the latter.

            Both women and men forgive great harm and injustices in many different contexts, and every time I read of such instances I find it inspiring .

          • Tadgh

            It definitely was abuse, I’m not claiming it wasn’t; what I’m trying to establish is whether this was a pattern or whether it was a particularly brutal once off incident. Solange Knowles pretty viciously attacked Jay-Z in an elevator last May but I’d classify it as an isolated incident as she has no prior record, from what I can tell, of violence.

          • derrington

            As someone who has experienced gendered violence from two previous partners and witnessed it in my father and brothers, what I found telling was his reaction to his partner’s unconsciousness. Most people, having hurt someone or something they love, would check to see if they were ok. He didn’t. He simply dragged her body out of the lift. I think this contempt for their partner’s basic welfare is at the heart of most cases of so called dv. Its contempt for the partner that is considered to be the b*tch of the relationship and you see it mirrored in gay and lesbian dv or sometimes turned on its head with a woman making the man the b*tch. Sorry to use that word but that is how alot of men describe their partners, sometimes in jest, sometimes for real, but I believe the expression many a truth in jest holds good. He might be masking that contempt but it is there for all to see when he thinks nobody is watching – whether she stays or goes is irrelevant, it is his contempt for another’s welfare and human rights not to be defrauded in a partnership. If he doesn’t love her as an equal he should be honest and get out rather than give a half hearted act which I suspect she sees through every now and again which is probably what sparks the arguments.

          • lizor

            “Most people, having hurt someone or something they love, would check to see if they were ok. He didn’t. He simply dragged her body out of the lift.”

            No kidding. He is certainly strong enough to carry her instead of dragging her across the ground like an inanimate object. That alone spoke volumns.

          • hi hello

            we all realize WHAT you are doing (trying to establish whether it was a pattern or not), the question is WHY you are doing that.

            The point everyone is making is that the only reason you have to do this is to try and make the “one-off” crime seem less severe (but it IS severe either way) or make this man seem less worthy of the label “abuser” (which he is either way).

    • derrington

      Until the public are willing to acknowledge gender terrorism in the form of media promoted violence against women and how pretty much all men use gender hate speech against women and young girls, then what constitutes abuse is likely to be hidden as socially acceptable violence against a subordinate caste in the same way that the rape and murder of two subordinate caste girls by males from a higher caste who left their bodies hanging in a tree was completely irrelevant to the authorities in India – the victims were considered subhuman and therefore they could not have human rights. Sexual media promotes women as sub human, and therefore all violence against them by higher caste members/males is regarded as justifiable and its why abuse sufferers stay with their abuser: they think they got it wrong rather than he did as they are convinced of their own worthlessness by the media referencing them generically as sluts and whores and other hate speech. Sexual media (porn) promotes hatred of women and children as subhuman caste members – which is why any policeforce that uses that media regularly has such difficulty even seeing the victims as victims – they are in their eyes – whores and sluts.

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  • pisaquari

    WHY didn’t HE LEAVE?
    Why the onus of leaving always on the abused? Rice, move your shit to one of your colleague’s bachelor-mansions, leave her the sports car you bought to impress *other* women (do we really ever wonder what these couple fights are about?), and start sending her money each month to do what she pleases while she sorts herself AWAY from you.

    • hihello

      totally. well put. If he really was just a “nice guy” who was “good at heart” but who had unfortunate anger issues and just blew up during a fight with her, wouldn’t that be exactly what he would do? He would say “wow, this is so fucked up. What I did is so wrong. How my anger is leaping out of me unbidden is so frightening. I need to be apart from you because I am afraid for you, and I love you, so I want what is best for you even if that means parting ways with you.” But does he say that? No. Does that even occur at all to most people? No. It’s insanity to put all the onus on the victim and none on the abuser. Especially when you are trying to claim that he’s not “really” an abuser, it was an “uncharacteristic” moment of violence, etc.

  • I just watched the video on Youtube. It’s despicable and disgusting.
    But do you know what’s more despicable and disgusting? The comments.
    Yep, apparently, she hit him first, and the poor, poor man just defended himself from a raging monster. Some (guess who) demand “equality”, i.e. having the right to hit women back.

  • Tadgh

    “What you’re saying and expecting here is super gendered though… Like, patience, compassion, forgiveness, etc. are all characteristics that women are expected to hold, not men. So when women are largely the victims of male violence, expecting forgiveness is just teaching women to accept male violence, in many ways.”

    Well I wouldn’t say I expect these things of women,men or anyone, I just think it’s the best template to follow and I certainly wouldn’t look down on anyone who refused to forgive someone who’d abused them; patience, compassion and forgiveness are admirable traits ( and ones which I personally try to adhere to ) , and I firmly believe that if they manifested themselves in more people then the world wouldn’t be as fucked up as it is. I think in the context of women staying in patently abusive relationships that’s true, but I don’t think all acts of forgiveness should be view from the perspective that it’s teaching women to accept male violence.

    • marv

      Many of our assumptions about forgiveness stem from patriarchal orchestrated religions. Secularists have been shaped by their influence too. These faiths call people to love their enemies and do good to those who harm you. This is problematic when there are vast inequalities between social groups like men and women, whites and people of colour, employers and employees, adults and children, etc. Pardoning masks the vertical structures in which the relationships exist. If slaves forgave their abusive masters how would that have subverted black slavery? Refusing to absolve the offender, in itself, would not overthrow the system either, without collective revolutionary clamouring by the oppressed. Clemency for violent men is a dangerous pathology in the absence of the dissolution of patriarchal forms. It keeps victims physically, mentally and emotionally adjusted to male monopoly. And when you are trained to invest your whole life into a belief system it is threatening to surrendour it.

      Under current conditions it is the obligation of men to be more understanding if they are attacked by those with less power, women.

      • derrington

        I was brainwashed as a child by everyone around me that I should forgive the violence and lying of my father – that he didn’t know/realise what he was doing because he was a man. It always confused me as to why the fuck he and men like him were in charge of serious stuff like nuclear buttons and the like. That mantra of forgiveness nearly cost me my life as I tried to show two partners by kindness and rationality that being fair and decent to others, regardless of their colour, sexual orientation or gender was the right thing to do. In the end I found feminism and it literally saved my life and my sanity as I was working with the unteachable who prefered ignorance and violence to reason and justice. Forgiveness can be a trap that keeps you in a dangerous place far longer than you should be there in all sanity.

      • FireWalkWithMe

        Yea I’ll agree society has used patriarchal, ethnocentric religions to keep women or other social groups in subversion. Sad. But I do think that fostering only hate and no understanding is very detrimental to oneself. But it’s a very hard thing to look past, for everyone on the planet, I’d say.

        Curious, what do you mean by men being understanding if attacked by those with less power? Like verbally, physically? I think anyone should be allowed to defend themselves verbally against a verbal attack, but only to that extent. Physical violence on the other hand, can be defended with retaliatory physical violence. If someone hits you you have the right to hit them back, not excessively and repeatedly if they only did it once, but at least once to show them you’ll hurt them if they try to harm you in the future. Regardless of gender. No, you shouldn’t use all your strength and knock them out if they only mildly cuffed you.

        I have seen some of these clips and am not sure the order of actions, the sound missing and video quality makes it hard to make out, but the Rice guy looks like the instigator in most of the exchanges and is a POS hot head. It looks like he spit at her first, and I don’t think I ever saw her hit him. Could be wrong though with video quality and such. All I can say is if someone spit in my face, no matter who they are, unless they were my mother (who wouldn’t), I’d probably at least smack them across the face cause that is just a disgusting, vile, rude thing to do. That’s physical assault by them, I’d say. Not with full force, but just instinctively in anger, I think.

        Again, I think this dude started every little exchange of blows and is a typical hot head degenerate.

        • marv

          A man can shield himself or flee from a woman’s aggression but it would be unethical to threaten or strike her, because of the imbalance of power. Tit for tat is an illegitimate individualistic response to unequal political conditions. For example if a prostituted woman hits a john, it’s depravity to hit her back.

          • marv

            Bear in mind using her is the original act of violence. It would be justifiable for her to kill him for that if she chose too though the repercussions would likely deter her.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            I am not for prostitution but justifiable to kill? That’s a bit extreme. Yea he exploited her and debased her, but throwing away his life, just murdering him? That’s really terrible. People are complex beings and all sorts of things lead them to do what they do, plenty of which are not malevolent. What if it’s a young man who just turned 18 and was peer pressured into losing his virignity (which I’ve heard of) and so went to a prostitute in a country where such is legal? Young people make all sorts of decisions they regret later in life. I doubt most guys out of highschool are fully aligned with feminist social behaviors and attitudes.

            Does this man deserved to be killed because he used a prostitute? Even though he is confused and immature and has a lot to learn and grow with? I’ve noticed a lot of opposition to patriarchy (which I DO believe exists) is extreme disregard for the physical safety or even life of men. Men seem very disposable.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            People have a right to their own body autonomy and to defend themselves. Violence shouldn’t be used but it often is in relationships. No one should be taught they can’t defend themselves or that they can hit someone without the other fighting back…teaching women they can hit their domestic partners in anger cause he’s not allowed to retaliate is as bad as saying unfaithful women deserve to be hit. Both are gendered designs when in reality violence is not a solution and enabling it to continue to be a valid reaction from ANYONE is terrible. Screw waiting for the law to decide he said she said after the abuse and trauma is over, if a girlfriend of mine or any female acquaintance of mine was hitting me, clawing me, slapping me I’m going to hit them. I do not EVER instigate physical fighting with anyone since I was about 14 with my younger brother, and he is the closest friend I have in the world. I’m not allowed to hurt people when I feel like and no one is allowed to hurt me or I will hurt them back.

            In this case I never saw Palmer instigate or attack first in any videos. Rice looked continuously spitting, grabbing, and ultimately hitting her. She was right to resist and I’m glad the camera was there to prove how shitty he is.

          • bella_cose

            First, retaliation is different from defending yourself. Second, if you’re bigger and stronger than the person attacking you, then yes, the onus is on you to get away or stop the attack while minimizing the physical damage you do to the other person.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            What the hell does a political situation have to do with someone’s right not to be hit? Feminists preach constantly, including this very article, about how prevalent domestic violence is used against women but yet if women do it the man should just accept it? Cops in a lot of places will laugh it off, or the woman may even say he abused her as retaliation. Regardless if those circumstances happen or not, people have a right to defend themselves, and a retaliatory strike sends as much of a message, if not more than blocking or calling the cops, that the person will not accept being harmed. Some people, regardless of gender, are just bullies and will hurt people in what ways they can. Domestic violence, in a world where women usually don’t otherwise use violence for socialization reasons, is a way for said a bullies to act out physically.

            Being abused is traumatic, and I don’t think anyone should have to wait for the police to arrive and likely not have anything done about it (if cops shrug off violence against women as many feminists claim they do, domestic violence surely is taken even less seriously from men with female partners, since a lot of people don’t even take it like it’s something wrong and that men should get over it and “man up” about it). Women take self defense classes and are called empowered and brave to stand up to attackers and abusers. Why can’t men do the same? Feminism, as far as I’m concerned, is about equality, not denying rights to men women are allowed to have.

          • C.K. Egbert

            Men are more likely to be protected by the system than women. In fact women’s arrest rates are significantly higher, in spite of the fact that men are abused less, that they are usually the perpetrators, and that it is usually in self-defense. See here: http://feministcurrent.com/7661/this-thing-about-male-victims/

            Domestic violence is taken more seriously than it is with women, in spite of the fact that actual, systematic or coercive violence by female partners is extremely rare. In fact most women in the US who are in prison for murdering their partners were doing so because they were being abused (note also that women who try to leave are also more likely to end up dead).

            You are talking about retaliatory violence, not defensive violence. You are not talking about a situation in which you are being systematically abused or you are threatened with serious injury. You are trying to justify the (very masculinist) response of dominating another person by keeping them under the threat of violence. That is exactly what abusers do: they use violence to terrorize others, to show them that they will hurt them if the woman doesn’t “stay in her place.”

            If you are defending yourself, the first response is to flee. The second response is to restrain. Hitting someone back is a last resort. I’ve been hit by children before (with bamboo poles, no less), and I certainly didn’t start viciously beating them to retaliate. That would be absurd.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            The abuser in this scenario would be the woman, and fighting back against her would be masculinist? Domination? They are the ones trying to terrorize and dominate. And women aren’t children, they are adults and have adult responsibilities to not lash out physically against people whenever they become angry.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Who are these women who are terrorizing and abusing men? Are the men living in fear? Dependent on these women somehow? Unable to leave because they fear for their lives or are financially dependent or fear they’ll lose their kids if they leave? Or otherwise psychologically enmeshed to the point where they feel the abuse is ok or their fault or that it’ll stop, or….?

            I don’t know. It just isn’t a very prevalent problem, I don’t think…. The dynamics between men and women are what they are because we live in a patriarchy. You can’t talk about abuse as though it’s just an individual thing, isolated from a larger context of gender inequality/male domination.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            That story I told you is one of many (though not as prevalent as women abused) men who suffer from spousal/partner abuse. It’s significant to them, and they don’t deserve to be neglected, and it’s perverse to label them as misogynistic if they fight off their attacker.

            Women take kids in custody all the time with divorce, they are given preference hugely over father. Like with my dad whom my mom, though I love her much, severely twisted me against out of divorce vendetta even though he didn’t deserve to have his children to act like he didn’t exist, which is what my mother would have wanted. It’s emotional terrorism.

            I was under the assumption feminists were anti violence but not only do some see female violence against men as empowering, but some at least see it as excusable. Violence is violence and is as real to the victim no matter the aegis it’s perpetrated under. Shrugging off female spousal abuse is wrong, to teach women that if they get angry with their man they can wail on him with no repercussions. You can call the cops, but most of that in any situation is he said she said without witnesses.

            Just how is a man striking back at a woman who is at the moment hitting him some detrimental step against women whenever she instigated the attack? If anything just taking it says that men are just used to violence and experiencing it is part of being a man.

          • marv

            You are being unnecessarily defensive. You can’t compare the systemic violence against women by men with random violence towards men by women. Put your head in your hands and give it a shake. Or is that bullying yourself?

          • FireWalkWithMe

            Individuals are individuals. No one has the right to hit anyone and giving anyone special consideration in their ability to act out physical violence is wrong. You have your opinion and I have mine. I wish people wouldn’t a use their partners so this wasn’t a problem.

          • bella_cose

            You don’t get it, obviously. You’re assuming that the playing field is level for women and men, and that violence operates the same way for both. That’s the only way your definition of equality works. But your assumption is wrong. Taking away the fact that usually men are bigger, or at least stronger, than the average woman, you still have a situation where, on the whole, women do not terrorize and oppress men using physical violence, or psychological violence as in the threat of physical violence. Your argument has no standing.

            Almost no man will be attacked by a woman large enough, or strong enough, to warrant punching them, or even slapping them. And no, you don’t get to do it because your ego is bruised or you feel emasculated because a woman hit you. Most men aren’t in serious danger if a woman attacks them, so there’s no excuse not to leave, and then call the cops.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            I knew a guy, not very well, but knew that growing up his mom abused his dad all the time. Would claw and smack him many nights a week. Beat him down emotionally and he never raised a hand against her. Cops never did anything about it (1990s I think) The whole neighborhood thought HE was abusing her, and one came up on their front porch one time when his dad and the son were outside to tell him to stop beating his wife. His face was in his hands after a fight and when he looked up at the visitor you could see the big bloody scratch all the way down his forehead from her. The person was at a loss for words.

            I don’t know why people here act like women are angelic paragons when they propound women are human and that they shouldn’t be told to be nice or smile all the time like women are “supposed to”. Everyone is complicit in the social violence of our society and though there are severe limitations to how certain groups act, people use what tools they can for good or I’ll based on their own moral compass and prerogatives.

            It’s not about how much damage they can do, it’s about intent, and the intent is an angry burst of violence that if done by men would be dubbed misogyny. It doesn’t matter if there are social precedents, people make individual choices and are not allowed special treatment. Isn’t that what feminists complain men have all the time, privilege? I can see why a lot of people say feminists want to put men below women instead of wanting equality; a lot of the comments here are preaching that.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I don’t think “women are angelic paragons” at all. Obviously abuse happens in lesbian relationships sometimes too. But the point is that domestic abuse happens within a context of patriarchy and the way in which male violence impacts women on a global scale is totally incomparable to female on female violence or female on male violence.

          • C.K. Egbert

            You don’t seem to be getting the point. No one is arguing against your right to have bodily integrity respected. You are also completely ignoring the context and assuming it is analogous when it isn’t (given the context; it is precisely this type of gender-neutralizing that prevents us from recognizing it as a gendered crime and which gives men a great advantage in domestic violence cases, see link above).

            Hitting someone because you need to protect yourself is one thing. You are not advocating self-defense, especially as it is extremely likely that you could easily (and safely) restrain the woman who is attacking you. You are advocating that you have a right to hurt a woman in order to show her “who is boss.” Do you honestly believe you are justified in breaking a woman’s nose because she gave you a scratch? You are not defending yourself, you are trying to punish the other person for hurting you. That is what is masculinist and unacceptable.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            I would not like any violence, and no one needs to be put in any place. It’s kinda twisted that you think defending yourself from an abusive partner is automatically about degrading their gender. What the hell. A person just needs to know they can’t attack another person with them being expected to tolerate it.

            And no of course not. Going over the edge and hurting them way more is not a real solution but is just awful behavior, like beating them over a slap. I wouldn’t aim to do any serious damage.

          • bella_cose

            And when women abusing and raping men becomes a global epidemic, and when women own almost all wealth and resources, while denying men their rights to bodily autonomy, when 99% of pornography is geared towards women, when their are no more Victoria’s Secret Angels, or beauty pageants, then perhaps you may have a case. Tossing out one or two exceptions challenges nothing that anyone else has tried, very patiently I might add, to convey to you about the GENDERED nature of abuse.

            Why do you read and comment on a feminist blog, when you so completely disregard the opinions, knowledge, and experiences of everyone here? Why aren’t you at least trying to see issues from a perspective other than your privileged male one?

          • FireWalkWithMe

            No one has a right to physically hurt another. It’s disturbing that you would think women should be given the benefit of the doubt and punished less any time they strike a male. Like the male is automatically assumed to be the perpetrator even if she is just angry at her boyfriend or her husband. No one deserves that right to hurt someone with much less penalty. It’s not even comparable to something like the right to have casual sex or not be sexually harassed. Violence is a detrimental aspect of society and allowing women to do it to men is gendering men that violence is a part of their existence and should accept it from time to time. What about the trauma and abuse they feel from it? Men feel as women do, gender is socialized.

            You would want a woman to fight off her attacker and call her brave for doing it, yet by the previous “males aren’t victims” logic you would tell her that while rape is bad, men are tolerated to do it in the moment without resistance. Only later should you call the cops. You think gender systems matter to the person being abused in that moment? I think the guy would rather not be hit than worry about the power differentiation between the genders. You’d hit someone attacking you on the subway or in the park, why not in your home? And how does him hitting back have any detriment to women? His attacker forfeits any grounds she has for claiming gender oppression the moment she attacks a man expecting him not to hit her back.

          • bella_cose

            Like I said, you obviously don’t get it. What’s more, it’s apparent that you don’t care to. Those of us replying to your comments understand completely what you’re saying, as you keep repeating yourself. We’ve been inviting you to deepen your analysis of the subject. You only see part of the context, because as a man, that’s all you are expected to see. Since your comments are proving to be mind numbingly predictable at this point, I’m going to remove myself from any further discussion on this.

          • derrington

            It seems you are over reliant on just physical attack. How about emotional fraud, pretending to like someone just so that they will accept a male sexually and then walking out the following morning once the male’s scored his sex. How about conning someone into having a child that the male has no commitment to and defrauding the other parent into making a lifetime decision that will be as detrimental to her quality of life as chopping a leg off based on a totally fraudulent premise that the male is committed/loves that woman. I have had that happen in most of the relationships I have been in with men making all sorts of statements that the moment it comes to it, they renege on. Once you have a baby, unfortunately there’s no going back and yet men do – setting up huge arguments/fights in order to justify walking out on their decisions rather than admit they have fucked up and standing by their commitments with grace and humility. There’s nothing like fraud, lying and insult to make a person mad, pity most men don’t see those as essential components of most of their relationship with females and children.

          • What are you doing FWWM? What is your point?

            This is a discussion about the social mechanics that hide, perpetuate, and normalize the global epidemic of male violence against women. Over and over people have pointed out what you should already know before taking it upon yourself to join the discussion: the violence against women by men is ubiquitous – it is a threat we live with every day – and you just don’t seem to hear it. People have explained power hierarchy to you and used examples like a kid hitting an adult and it all just bounces right off you.

            Broad platitudes about all violence being bad and sometimes women hit back or “slap and scratch” contributes nothing at all – and you presume to take up a lot of space with it.

            I was going to suggest to you that if you want to focus on the few exceptions where a female spouse is controlling her male partner through physical terror (Can you point to a real-world case of this? Your friend’s Dad getting scratched by his wife is not a parallel), that you start your own blog, but you clearly cannot be honest about the actual real-world context of gender violence, so it would just be another MRA blog spouting KKK-style nonsense (you know – those white people who are so oppressed by their former slaves?)

            No person here “acted like women are angelic paragons”. If you are going to make such accusation, use a quote as evidence.

            We’re talking about women bruised, beaten, broken and killed by the men who claim to love them. That’s what the discussion is.

            If you want to have a conversation about a make-believe world where women are controlling and terrorizing men and where a group of people are pretending that those women are a manifestation of some Christian idea of purity, then by all means write that fiction. But for the life of me, I don’t know why you think you have something to contribute by writing it here.

    • “Rice has no apparent history of violence against a partner”

      You give weight to the public record of an american football star? The unfolding of incidents in this case alone is grounds to suspect an extensive cover up of bad behaviour by these players, let alone the way the law, the media and the public collude to hide and normalize male brutality.

      “if she wants to give him a second chance, I think that’s magnanimous of her”.

      … ” every time I read of such instances I find it inspiring .”

      I found nothing inspiring in this. The entire story is depressing, including the statement from Palmer. Who knows what sort of coercion she might have experienced, particularly when it was made plain to her months ago that he was untouchable and she entirely disposable.

    • “…patience, compassion and forgiveness are admirable traits ( and ones which I personally try to adhere to ) , and I firmly believe that if they manifested themselves in more people then the world wouldn’t be as fucked up as it is. I think in the context of women staying in patently abusive relationships that’s true…”

      If your idea of a less fucked up world is one in which slavery, fascism and racist violence is prevalent than I suppose that’s true. Otherwise it isn’t. If you let people get away with causing harm they will continue to cause it. This does not mean that the response to oppression should always be violent (although I do believe that violence against oppressive forces is justified in some situations)but it should send the clear message that oppression is wrong and if you oppress people they will fight back.

      There are other options besides blind forgiveness/subordination and blind violence/revenge. Resistance to oppression that is appropriate given the situation or that can actually bring about an end to oppression is the pinnacle of virtue. Not all women have the courage to fight back in this way, but those who do should not be told that their behaviour somehow implies a lack of character or strength. It implies quite the opposite.

    • hi hello

      Tdgh, can you not see that you want desperately to make something “admirable” and “magnanimous” and “inspiring” come out of this event, and that in order to do so you have put all of the onus on the victim?

      I’m sure you want warm fuzzy feelings to come out of this or any event that happens, which is understandable. But what you are doing is crazy mental and ethical gymnastics in order to get the result you want. What you are doing is attempting to squeeze some happy ending or good feelings out of this event by putting pressure on victims to forgive their abusers and be “magnanimous” and “admirable.” It’s really not cool OR ethical.

      • Tadgh

        Meghan and C.K Egbert brought up the valid topic of victims remaining with their abusers; trauma bonding, for example. What I was trying to establish was whether this dynamic was evident here, or whether aside from this brutal incident ,their relationship had been harmonious ( clearly it can’t be labelled as such now, given recent events); if we knew more about Palmer and Rice’s relationship, or at least about the latter’s past relationships, then we could establish this. I never claimed that this wasn’t severe, I referred to it as “brutal” ; but if it was part of a prior pattern of repeated abuse then I think that makes things measurably worse. I still believe what Rice did was reprehensible, but for me there’s a marked difference between someone who snaps once in the heat of an argument, and someone who repeatedly abuses a spouse.

        Respectfully, if you read my prior posts you’ll see I never mentioned anything about putting pressure on victims to forgive their abusers, and with regard to judges presiding over abuse cases, I stated :

        “With regard to the judge I’ll be a bit blunt. He/she has no right tell the victim to forgive an attacker; he/she is there to dispense justice as prescribed in the legal framework of his/her jurisdiction,and not to impress guidance on victims.”

        I don’t believe victims should forgive perpetrators, only that I see it, in any context, as the best template to follow. I also think forgiveness can take many forms, all of which are the prerogative of the victim. From my earlier comments :

        “I certainly wouldn’t look down on anyone who refused to forgive someone who’d abused them.”

        and

        “Forgiveness is entirely her prerogative here; if she wants to forgive and simultaneously see her victim prosecuted to the full extent of the law, that’s fine. Conversely if she wants to forgive and ask for a more lenient sentence in any subsequent trial, that’s also fine.”

        The only thing I want from this is for Palmer and Rice to try and salvage their marriage and progress forward. I want this because that’s what Palmer clearly desires ; if she’d left him and pressed charges I’d also support that particular decision. In addition I stated :

        “I think she should make it clear to him though, in no uncertain terms, that if he ever strikes her again not only will she divorce him, but also vigorously pursue charges.”

        • hi hello

          Fair enough. And thank you for your response. But what you quoted of what you have said left out other contradictory things you have said. In other words, you have sort of been trying to have it both ways in this whole conversation, and are thus contradicting yourself at times.

          You are right that you didn’t advocate anyone personally pressuring victims to forgive their abusers. However, what I meant was not putting interpersonal pressure on victims, but basically putting the ethical burden onto victims. You basically said repeatedly that you think forgiveness is always better. What does “better” mean? You reserve the right for victims to feel anger, but you seem to believe that ethically the BEST course of action is for victims to forgive. That is why you value it so highly when victims do it, presumably; because it is ethically best.

          “Well, I’m just going to say that personally speaking, forgiveness shown by a victim to someone who has inflicted egregious harm is one of the most difficult, laudable, and inspiring acts that humans are capable of. Those who suffer at the hands of others are entitled to experience hate, anger, vengeance and a desire for justice; but those who transcend all of these and forgive always have my unwavering admiration.”

  • anaeli

    I have a friend who is in, what I think is, an abusive relationship. Over a longer period of time she told me bits and pieces about her unhappiness and I kept telling to just stand up for herself, voice her wishes more, mostly stuff like that. I pushed with this advice for a while until one day she just burst out saying she couldn’t, because she was really scared of him and she explained why. I realized my advice was stupid, I hugged her and I just told her to talk to me if anything happens. I know others blame her for staying (“they’re not married, she can just leave!”, “they don’t have kids, why stay?”), so I try to provide her with a little emotional shelter where I just support her no matter what, whenever they have an argument. It feels like a really tricky situation. Abuse is also a mindfuck for me. It is hard seeing her succumb to her abuser and not knowing what to do – you don’t want to estrange your friend, or acquaintance, or colleague by pushing too hard, but you wish you could somehow convince her to leave.

  • Tadgh

    @C.K. Egbert

    Yes I’ve heard of the case. I wouldn’t apply a barometer of anger here, a victim is perfectly entitled to anger, as I stated in my post. I think she’s right to protest, and to seek disciplinary action on the part of the university, in addition to criminal prosecution. Forgiveness is entirely her prerogative here; if she wants to forgive and simultaneously see her victim prosecuted to the full extent of the law, that’s fine. Conversely if she wants to forgive and ask for a more lenient sentence in any subsequent trial, that’s also fine.

    “If we were all to take your stance that we should just forgive all the harm that men do to us, there would be absolutely no justice, no feminist movement at all, and men would sit there and laugh while they continue to abuse and rape women.”

    Well I was talking about forgiveness in a broader context beyond male on female violence. What I’m not saying, is that there should be forgiveness absent of change or amends, so I disagree that women forgiving men is incongruent with the feminist movement, if that’s what you were suggesting.

    “Asking someone to forgive their abuser is telling the victim that their suffering, harm, and injustice they endure is completely unimportant and merely reinforcing to women what they’ve always been told: that they are worthless, that they are meant to suffer. Not to mention asking someone to forgive an abuser potentially puts the victim at risk for further abuse (which they are supposed to forgive in turn?).”

    Well I didn’t state that someone should be asked to forgive their abuser, I simply mentioned that personally speaking forgiveness is the best path, and that extends to any context, not just domestic abuse. If a woman is struck once by a male partner, I have absolutely no objection to her refusing to forgive her attacker, or to her pressing formal charges; if she chooses to remain with the man, I think she should make it unequivocally clear that if it happens again she’ll vigorously prosecute him, as well as file for divorce ( supposing they’re married). I disagree entirely with a universal application of the notion that asking someone who happens to be female to forgive an assailant is telling them that the ” suffering, harm, and injustice they endure is completely unimportant and merely reinforcing to women what they’ve always been told: that they are worthless, that they are meant to suffer.” Would you think it appropriate to apply the same interpretation in other contexts, like the previous sectarian violence/discrimination in Northern Ireland ? Or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ? Or what’s been happening for centuries in the Middle East between Sunnis and Shias?

    Rape is in a more egregious category of crime, so I don’t believe applying a “pattern of behaviour” standard is suitable. And again, I never mentioned anything about “should”; how a rape victim approaches her/his assailant is for them to decide. If they want to forgive that’s admirable, if not then I wouldn’t think negatively of them as I believe they’re entitled to their anger and lack of clemency. If someone is guilty of a single instance of rape then they’re a rapist; if you want to apply the same template to assault then for me you have to include every individual who has ever struck their partner, whatever the regularity, whether they’re male or female. In addition to men like Rice, women like Solange Knowles and Kelly Brook, who recently admitted to punching two of her ex-partners in the face, should also be labelled as abusers and prosecuted.

    • C.K. Egbert

      I’m confused about what you mean by forgiveness then: it is merely a private attitude taken by the victim? Because on the one hand, you seem to equate forgiveness with asking for a more lenient sentence (or no punishment at all), and on the other hand, you seem to say it is compatible with full punishment of the perpetrator. I find objectionable the idea that forgiveness means more lenient social sanctions (or none at all).

      Also, it is relevant that society sanctions the act, not the victim, and so it has to be commensurate with the harm done to the victim. How society treats the perpetrator tells us how much society values the victim because punishment is a social act, which is why punishment should not be contingent on whether the victim is forgiving. If we ask victims to “forgive” their attacker–and not pursue full social sanction–then we are saying that women are less valuable and their suffering doesn’t matter as much.

      Forgiveness only makes sense in the context where justice and rectification for the harms have already occurred. Counselors advising women to forgive their abusers is not happening when abusers are getting full social sanction, when the perpetrators are unable to hurt the victim or others, because society doesn’t punish men who abuse women. So it is effectively saying, “don’t be angry, be empathetic with your abuser, he shouldn’t get in trouble or experience any negative effects for what he has done…” And that is telling women that they are valueless and that their suffering doesn’t matter.

      I think the point that you are missing in this case is that there is a social-structural violence against women, men are socialized into thinking that it is acceptable to hurt women, women have few to no resources for justice against men who harm, and they are victimized by society when they try to be angry. A woman hitting a man is not the same (there’s an article here on domestic violence: women usually hit their partner because they have been systematically abused and they crack, or in self defense, and yet women are much more likely to be arrested and prosecuted by police. So no real analogy there).

      • Tadgh

        For me it’s a relative term, but yes at its core I’d describe it as a private attitude taken by the victim. Subsequently, and at their discretion, I believe victims can apply further layers of meaning and manifestation; for example asking for a more lenient custodial sentence. Beyond a personal act of clemency shown to the perpetrator I don’t believe forgiveness has any tangible meaning, so I don’t think it should translate into a more lenient punishment unless the victim requests it. As I related in one of my earlier posts, in the instance of the man assaulted in my city, the judge was asked by the victim to refrain from sending the attacker to prison, which she obliged. In this instance forgiveness extended beyond a private attitude and manifested itself as a call for leniency.

        Well for particularly egregious crimes I’d agree with you, although in all cases I think the judge should at least consider pleas for leniency from victims. I think it’s inappropriate for anyone to “ask” a victim to forgive, in particular someone presiding over a trial; if it’s forthcoming, in my view, it should be on the initiative of the victim. The law, in my jurisdiction anyway, allows a judge to use his/her discretion as to whether to incarcerate perpetrators ( suspended sentences ), in certain crimes, and a victim’s request for leniency can be an influence here, which I agree with. We would appear to be of different perspectives on this matter.

        “Forgiveness only makes sense in the context where justice and rectification for the harms have already occurred.”

        I don’t agree with a general application of this concept; personally speaking its sensibility is the prerogative of the victim, and if it makes sense to them to forgive absent punishment, then I accept their rationale. Legally of course, the victim’s forgiveness can only extend so far in influence.

        I give significant credence to inculcated social norms, and conscious actions dictated to a considerable degree by an underlying subconscious framework, but I’m very wary of applying them, at least equally, to whole populations. I don’t believe I’ve been socialised into thinking violence against women is alright, in fact quite the opposite, I’ve acquired a strong stigma against it. A man striking a woman would absolutely be seen as far more egregious than a man hitting a man where I live.

        As a result of natural physiological differences in size and strength, on average, men are larger and stronger than women, but I think it would be a considerable error to suggest that the inverse can’t be true. And regardless of these factors, I believe it’s highly inappropriate for anyone to strike another person, except in self defence. Personally speaking, and as alluded to above, the stigma against hitting a woman is so ingrained that, even in self defence, my reaction would be to block an attack, push the aggressor away or quickly leave the area. Now at its root this is probably what might be termed “benign sexism”, based on a traditional stereotype of female timidity/fragility, which makes me very hesitant to reciprocate violence. I’m trying to change in this regard, and view aggressors solely on ability, size and strength, not on gender. I do think that larger, stronger and more experienced ( practitioners of martial arts, those who’ve received formal training, such as law enforcement or security personnel etc…) victims of attacks perpetrated by those of a less threatening, diminutive stature, should be mindful of the disparity and act accordingly ( i.e not reciprocating with equal force ). I do however still believe that aggressors in these cases should be charged with assault.

        Men in general, in my opinion, should be conscious of the physiological differences between sexes, and if struck by a woman, should refrain from striking back, extract themselves from the situation, and report the assault to the police. In cases where there is an inverse dynamic to physiological norms I believe men are justified in retaliating. I’d apply the same template to male on male, and female and female violence respectively; larger/stronger/experienced individuals should be mindful of their advantages and react accordingly.

    • C.K. Egbert

      Also, Tadgh, you should look at the most recent post here. The next time he hits her she might end up dead. And if she tries to press charges or get a divorce, it’s almost a guarantee that she will end up dead.

      • Tadgh

        With respect, to state that “it’s almost a guarantee that she will end up dead” is a very speculative presumption in my opinion.

        • C.K. Egbert

          Women are very likely to be killed if they try to leave their partners. And given that he has shown he is both capable and willing to use extreme force against her (knocking her unconscious), all it would take is another punch in the right place to kill her. (It’s not like in the movies: there was actually a case a couple of years ago where a man bet a woman to punch him in the face, and it ended up killing him.)

          • Tadgh

            This is a very onerous claim. Could you provide some empirical evidence in support ? A single punch can indeed result in fatality I agree, but to suggest that Palmer is almost guaranteed to be killed by Rice if she attempts to divorce/leave him is speculative in my opinion. A possibility ? Yes. A probability ? I’d say not.

        • bella_cose

          That’s because your opinion is that of someone ignorant to the facts of domestic abuse. Seriously! At this point, don’t you think you should shut up and do some actual research? You’re like a stubborn toddler who can’t be reasoned with. I think you need a time out.

          • Tadgh

            If you can provide a reputable empirical study that indicates a very high correlation between divorce/a break-up and subsequent death perpetrated by a spouse, I will certainly look at it. Could you please indicate where I’ve acted as a “stubborn toddler who can’t be reasoned with”?

          • C.K. Egbert

            Yes, there is. Any person who works with domestic violence or domestic violence victims knows this. By the way, you made a generalized state that it was “probably not” likely for her to get killed by her abuser. In fact it is highly probable, so you are the one making claims with absolutely no supporting evidence.

            From the National Institute of Health (US):
            “Femicide, the homicide of women, is the leading cause of death in the United States among young African American women aged 15 to 45 years and the seventh leading cause of premature death among women overall.1 American women are killed by intimate partners (husbands, lovers, ex-husbands, or ex-lovers) more often than by any other type of perpetrator.2–4 Intimate partner homicide accounts for approximately 40% to 50% of US femicides.”

            See the study. Leaving the abuser is highly correlated with risk of death.
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447915/

            Next time you comment try not to minimize the harm, suffering, and severity of the problem of violence against women. You only come across as an apologist for men who should be in jail, and you over simplistically assume that women can get help from the police or “leave the abuser” (they usually cannot and they are often shamed, ostracized, and punished by police for attempting to leave).

          • Tadgh

            Thank you for providing the study. With respect, the section you pasted didn’t pertain to the issue of domestic abuse as a predictor of spousal homicide, nor does it support the assertion that Palmer, or any other woman suffering domestic abuse is “highly likely to end up dead” in the event that they attempt to leave their partner ( the authors associate this factor with an increased risk of femicide; they do not claim that it signifies high probability that the victim will be killed). The study ( pertinent extract quoted below ) found a strong statistical correlation between male on female domestic abuse and homicide, in the context of overall intimate partner homicides, though did not differentiate between between the sex of the victims ( who’d been subsequently killed ); of course deferring to the other information provided therein, it’s clear that the vast majority of the victims were women, but it would have provided more clarity if the authors had segregated the data further. It was quite an informative/detailed paper though, discussing numerous risk factors, so thank you again for posting it.

            “The majority (67%–80%) of intimate partner homicides involve physical abuse of the female by the male before the murder, no matter which partner is killed.1,2,6,11–13”

            All this is certainly not the same as concluding that those suffering domestic abuse are highly likely to be murdered by a partner in an abusive relationship, or in the event that they attempt to leave him , which is what you appear to be suggesting , and if I’m wrong please do correct me. What the paper shows is that, of those women killed by intimate partners, a significant percentage were abused prior to death; it also highlights, among other factors, previous domestic abuse as indicating increased risk. It does not conclude with, or support, the assertion that abused women in general are “very likely to be killed if they attempt to leave their partners”. If you believe from my response that I’m reading the statistics listed in the study incorrectly, I’d be obliged if you could point out my misinterpretations. My intention was certainly not to minimise the harm, suffering and severity of the violence suffered by women, but simply, in this case, to challenge a claim which I viewed as inaccurate and speculative. Male on female domestic abuse, in addition to spousal homicide committed by men, are major problems.

          • bella_cose
          • Tadgh

            Thank you for the links. With regard to the Bureau of Justice Statistics site was there a particular study you were referring to ?

            The second link, while providing a list of egregious, sobering statistics, does not provide evidence to support the claim that a woman attempting to leave an abusive relationship will almost certainly be killed. I’d like to point out here that I’m not trying to diminish the severity of male on female homicide; I’m simply disagreeing with the claim that a victim who tries to leave an abuser is nearly certain to end up dead.

          • bella_cose

            I think the last study on the bjs site has more of what you’re looking for.

            It isn’t that she will almost certainly be killed, it’s more likely that that’s when she will be killed, if it happens. Because of the way the statistics have been compiled, it’s hard to give exact numbers. Currently,researchers are working to improve methods of collecting the data, but it’s difficult due to many factors, one of which is the reluctance of women to come forward and report their abusers. It’s well known though, that women are more likely to be killed by a male they are involved with than by a stranger, and that the most likely time that that will occur is when the woman leaves the abuser, or soon (I think in the first 3 months) after. In fact, I read an article saying that that’s why jail sentences for abusers actually decrease the likelihood the woman will be killed. So it really is not unlikely, and most women are already scared, have little to no support, and the legal system is abysmal when it comes to protecting these women.

          • “My intention was certainly not to minimise the harm, suffering and severity of the violence suffered by women, but simply, in this case, to challenge a claim which I viewed as inaccurate and speculative.”

            But that’s exactly what you did do. By insistently belabouring an argument promoting the powers of “forgiveness” on the part of the victim, you did that.

            By contesting statements about the severity of the problem, demanding empirical evidence and then nitpicking over the interpretation, you did that.

            Here’s another article for you:

            http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/remember-reeva-steenkamp-and-the-thousands-of-other-women-killed-by-men-every-year-9727469.html

            and here’s a quote from it:

            “In South Africa, in 2009, 1024 women were killed through intimate partner violence, that’s one woman dead at the hands of her partner or former partner every 8 hours. You won’t hear about most of them. ”

            To blandly concede that “Male on female domestic abuse, in addition to spousal homicide committed by men, are major problems.” seems rather mealy mouthed when you don’t seem to grasp that this is a HIDDEN and NORMALIZED epidemic and then you presume to bog down the conversation with tactics and arguments that are typical of mansplainers and MRAs – irrelevant lines of argument and high-handed contestations about how statistical evidence gets read.

            Yes, forgiveness can be very healing ONCE THE ISSUE HAS BEEN FULLY BROUGHT TO LIGHT (I’m not yelling, but I have no option to bold or underline in this interface).

            To doggedly argue about forgiveness when abuse is systemic, sanctioned and largely hidden is highly inappropriate and it’s effect, whatever your intention, is to minimized the truth of brutal ugly indifference to women’s lives and well being.

          • Tadgh

            I’m not sure which of my arguments have been irrelevant, I think they’ve been congruent with the subject matter of the article. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I value forgiveness highly, and I was referring to it’s application in all contexts, not simply domestic abuse; however, I did not state that I believe victims should forgive perpetrators, and voiced my disagreement with victims being pressured into showing clemency. I also criticised the notion of a presiding judge asking a person to show forgiveness, which I view as highly inappropriate. Furthermore I stated my belief that it can take many forms, from a private statement to a call for a more lenient custodial sentence, or none at all. In my opinion, and as described in a previous comment, it should be forthcoming on the initiative of the victim. I don’t believe I’ve been “doggedly” arguing about forgiveness, which I think is clear from my previous posts on this article, in which I’ve made several qualifying statements on my position.

            As for the original contestation regarding the claims about Palmer, and in addition, female abuse victims in general being very likely, and in the case of the former “almost garaunteed”, to be killed in the event that they attempt to leave their aggressors, I viewed those claims as speculative, and from what I could see the interpretation of the evidence provided was incorrect; not just marginally but significantly.

            I don’t believe statements should be free from critical interpretation simply because of the justness of the movement they derive from, and I see contesting facts which appear suspect as solid investigative practice for arriving at the truth of a situation. If you read my reply, I never demanded evidence, I asked for it, and thanked the two posters who provided links. For me this was not “nitpicking”, but rather a major difference in interpretation. There is a very sizeable difference between establishing that a large number of homicide victims were abused prior to death, and postulating that because a woman has been abused she is “very likely” or “almost garuanteed” to be killed in the event that she tries to leave her abuser. Were the latter true the number of women killed in the US on an annual basis would surely be many multiples the current rate. The authors of the study cite it as an increased risk factor and not, in so far as I can see, indicating a high probability. At no point did I deny the pre-eminence of male on female intimate partner homicide; it’s absolutely an undeniable fact, and it needs more and urgent attention.

    • ew_nc

      Tagdh, can you explain what it is that you find so admirable about forgiveness?

  • Maggie

    I am unemployable becauae the one and only time I stood up to my abuser – pushing back on the door in which he was crushing my arm – he ended up with a small scratch on his face from the door, and as the person with “visible injuries” he was taken for the victim and I am now a convicted criminal, which in the United States means kiss goodbye to all hope of legitimate employment above minimum wage, if that; let alone the profession I was training for when I fell in with him. Last year things got the point where I was willing to contemplate leaving him anyway, because he started to terrorize, though not yet actually lay hands on, our child. We fled in the night; the police, as always, declined to arrest him; I went in for a restrainng order first thing the next morning, where I was denied and ordered to return the child immediately, and not to take her again without his permission. Regretfully, I obeyed, but was finally so fed up that I stayed away for several months, during which my worst fears about my job prospects were proven correct as a result of which I never had quite enough to eat. I didn’t see my daughter very much because I had nothing to feed her with when she came, and my husband refused to let me have even $20 to make it possible. Over six months she spent two or three nights with me by virtue of me being extra mean with myself for a few weeks beforehand until there was enough extra to feed her for a day. This was with having free rent from a single male friend the flux of whose life had temporarily left him with space to share, with applying to welfare (rejected for making too much at my minimum wage job), and using the local food bank. Around the time the free rent was about to dry up, my husband started to make it clear that if I tried to keep staying away, he would sue for full custody on the grounds that I had “abandoned” my child, with my conviction as a domestic abuser and my history of mental health treatment thrown in for good measure. If he succeeded, he would then move to his hometown 1,500 miles away. His lawyer assured him he would succeed, which is not idle because he is a successful businessman who keeps on retainer a lawyer who has never steered him wrong or overpromised in the past. Statistics told me that 70% of fathers who sue for custody win, and the local legal aid was evidently not very good for much beyond pointing you where you to sign your name on papers if you happened to be illiterate. Besides, I couldn’t afford so much as a shift off to attend court, and was about to be in the streets. Through all this, the local women’s shelter was full up, with many people before me on the waiting list. And the few times i was able to see my child there were starting to be signs of neglect. So i went back. What I have to show for all this effort is the addition of (absolutely baseless) sexual insinuations about me and the friend who took me in to the usual round of verbal abuse. In full hearing of my prepubescent child. He has turned everyone I know against me, including my own parents, painting me as an out of touch mental case (in fact my mental health treatment has never been for anything but simple depression) who manipulates them with made-up stories of abuse. The previous time I tried to leave he talked so persuasively to the person that she put me out again the very next morning, disgusted by my “lies.” My social life is divided between people who think of me as that crazy bitch who runs around with made-up stories about my poor, endlessly patient husband, and newer people whom I work overtime to keep from knowing anythng at all about my personal life lest they shift to the former group. But there’s no friendship based on happy superficialities. I am very alone. Sometimes I anonymously blurt out the story, like this, because the thought that some woman somewhere might have a kind thought for me for a minute is my only comfort. My primary occupation these days is reminding myself that suicide would only hurt my child worse. Though i can already see the signs that she will eventually be recruited to the army of people shaking their heads at what a saint he is for putting up with me, what a user I am for not working (I have managed to conceal the conviction from most). I see a lot in various places about how abused women don’t leave because they are in some kind of mental state where it “seems” there is no help. Please be aware that in actual fact there is no help, in many cases. I’d say more but here he comes.

    • C.K. Egbert

      I am so, so sorry to hear your story.

      I wish there was something I could do for you, but all I can offer is the knowledge that we do understand and we do care and we do believe you (I can’t imagine the emotional pain you must go through with people not believing your story when men are master manipulators). I can only hope that you are able to get out of that situation (I know that’s not something that you can always achieve given your difficult circumstances, and of course you must not blame yourself for being unable to do so).

  • Derrington

    I had exactly the same support from my family and the state … Much easier to try you as a witch than admit collusion between state and male abuser to keep breeder caste in their place. I dont know how to help in a us based system but recognise through shared experience that you speak the truth. Cant offer any more except my love from uk and believe you will be reunited with your child some day. Remember he can fool half the world all the time and the other half some of the time but he cannot full the whole world the whole time. Take care of yourself xxx

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