Let's end the assault on Janay Rice by taking the elevator video off the 24-hour, TV hamster wheel.
The video no longer holds probative value. Its use now is sensational at best, exploitative at worst -- and is, more than likely, damaging to the victim. It's contributing, in my opinion, to Janay Rice's inability to properly assess who is responsible (Ray Rice) for the chaos and pain in her life.
"There is no dignity in being a victim," a friend who is a survivor of domestic violence told me Tuesday afternoon after reading Janay Rice's heartbreaking Instagram post.
"I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I'm mourning the death of my closest friend," Janay Rice 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 and unwanted [opinions] from the public [have] caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing... What don't y'all get? If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all the happiness away, you've succeeded on so many levels."
ESPN's "SportsCenter" stopped running the elevator video Tuesday morning, and likely won't use it again unless there is a new, specific news reason to do so. ESPN.com also has chosen to no longer feature the video. Other TV networks were still using the video liberally Tuesday evening, and so were plenty of web sites and blogs.
It's time to move beyond the video. It has done its job. It's awakened those of us who naively didn't fully comprehend what domestic violence looks like. It has forced Roger Goodell and the Ravens to take Ray Rice's misdeed seriously. But now we are using it, unwittingly, to bludgeon the victim, to force her deeper into a bunker where she blames herself.
When my friend, the survivor, called, her voice filled with emotion, she explained: "Janay Rice is a victim of domestic abuse. We all watched her get struck repeatedly on that video ... but what comfort does that give her? We can only imagine what it felt like for her to be the recipient of those punches. What must it feel like for her to watch herself in that situation? To know that every single person she has ever known can watch her get beaten by her now-husband, to get dragged out of an elevator, her skirt upturned in a most unflattering way. How must that feel?"
My friend went on to express that Janay's private shame is now a public spectacle, and so, of course, she is angry with the media. We're airing her dirty laundry (Janay's interpretation) and not only must she be humiliated over and over again by not just the act, but the replaying and analysis of it. And now she has no choice but to wear the victim label like a Scarlet Letter. There is no power or control or heroism in victimhood. There is no dignity there.
As a man who adores and respects his mother and his sister, and believes his deceased grandmother personally housed Jesus' spirit, I ask that we stop airing the video. And stop sharing it on social media, where video can live seemingly forever. I don't want to avoid the realities of domestic violence. But this video is just too painful. It's not simply the physical assault. The arrogance and nonchalance Ray Rice exuded in the immediate aftermath of knocking his then-fiancée unconscious are every bit as troubling to witness as the punch that floored her. And then she was dragged out of the elevator like a rolled rug.
The video is disturbing, and it no longer informs. It merely shocks. I don't need to see the ISIS beheadings to abhor murder and terrorism. I don't need to see Eric Garner strangled repeatedly to realize we have a problem with police brutality. I don't need to see Janay Rice treated like Patsey, the character Lupita Nyong'o portrayed in "12 Years a Slave."
Janay Rice looks like the women in my family, the women with whom I eat dinner and socialize in Los Angeles. It makes me ill to see her thrown about like a misbehaving piece of property. If I am repulsed by the video, how must she feel? What damage is being done to her psyche? I suspect it's contributing to a fog that is preventing her from seeing the truth.
Ray Rice's behavior caused all of this. He must own it. His failure to own responsibility may have poisoned Janay to the point that she is blaming the media over Instagram instead of the true culprit. At training camp, when he thought he would rejoin the Ravens, Ray talked boldly about being a leader and leading his family. His wife's words indicate that he has no idea what said leadership would entail. He needs to help his wife understand that his actions -- inside the elevator and his mishandling of the aftermath -- set into motion all the pain they're experiencing today.
We can assist Janay and Ray in reaching a higher level of enlightenment. Let's stop showing the videotape, and end the assault on her peace of mind.