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What Janay Rice Should Be Saying

Janay needs to stop defending her marriage and start making a difference.

Whether she will admit it, Janay Rice was a victim of domestic violence. She was beaten unconscious by her boyfriend, who drunkenly dragged her out of an elevator. Any excuses she offers now will not negate that fact.

This said, it is not the place for the rest of the world to judge her for wanting to stay in the relationship. It is her decision. If she now feels safe and happy in her marriage, no one should speak against that choice.

Mrs. Rice has taken to morning talk shows to make clear to the world that Ray only hit her because he was influenced by alcohol, that he was entirely honest about the battering throughout the investigation, that she wishes the public eye would stop scrutinizing her private life.

But her husband’s lost multi-million dollar football career and the controversy surrounding it will ensure that the couple remains in the media for quite some time. Mrs. Rice will be on camera again; this is not the last time she will have to speak about the attack. And that means she has the opportunity to use this assault to affect greater change.

Instead of defending her “wrongly-punished” husband, Janay needs to speak to other women in her situation. She has the experience and the media attention to help the 1 in 5 women who experience severe physical violence from an intimate partner (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). Janay needs to stop defending her marriage, and start making a difference.

According to the NCADV, 75% of physical assaults against women go unreported. 27% of women who experience physical violence face long-term impacts: physical injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. If what Mrs. Rice leads us to believe is true, then she has dealt with her physical and mental injuries and has moved on from them.

Janay married her assaulter; clearly she found reasons that the relationship could survive the attack. In fact, she wants the world to “forget” it. She is lucky enough to have had a positive post-assault experience with her husband. So Mrs. Rice should use her Today Show airtime to speak to victims who have not been so lucky, to console them and offer advice as they too move on from their assault.

She should be the voice that gets them through their horrific incidents. Why her? Because she can. She has been there, and she has the microphone now.

Is it unfair to expect this from a victim of sexual assault, simply because her husband is famous? Maybe. Maybe she does want to ignore this incident, put it behind the couple, and move on with their brand new marriage.

But those in the public eye have a moral responsibility to do what good they can. Janay can help millions of women. So while it is unfair that she was involuntarily thrust into this position, now she is in deep. If she wants to come out a strong leader and difference maker, she needs to stop defending and start speaking.

Written by Kendall Silwonuk’15


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