Hold on. Let me tell you where I’m coming from.
Before I met my husband, to whom I’ve been married for over 17 years, I was in an abusive relationship. This does not make me an expert on domestic violence, but it gives me a unique perspective. I know what it’s like to look into the eyes of someone who is supposed to love you and feel nothing but pain.
Ray Rice did something wrong. Very wrong. Without exception, a man should never hit a woman (and vice versa) and there is absolutely no excuse for his behavior. He should be punished for it, and if it is determined the punishment is that he is never signed to an NFL contract again, then he should accept that. This isn’t about the football player, this is about the man.
Can I say that I would forgive him if I were Janay? No, I can’t. I was never knocked unconscious. I can say that I chose to forgive someone for hitting me, or at least to look past it, again and again, for years. I should have left after the first time it happened, but I think Janay should stay.
Why the double-standard?
Because I believe in second chances. I believe in forgiveness and that people can better themselves. I believe in becoming a stronger, more-focused, enlightened person by owning your mistakes and understanding your future choices. I also believe there isn’t one person reading this who hasn’t done something shameful in their life.
Ray and Janay have both said that this was the only time he had ever hit her. I don’t necessarily believe that, but I don’t know for sure. What if it was? What if this was Ray’s shameful moment?
The difference between what happened to me and what happened to Janay is that Ray is sorry. He has expressed regret and asked for forgiveness. I stayed with someone who didn’t. There can’t be change within a person unless they see the need.
We have to determine whether we look at Ray Rice as a violent, indifferent person who doesn’t deserve forgiveness because he’s only concerned about his career, or as a remorseful man who made a terrible mistake, loves his family and should get the opportunity to prove it. Trust me, there’s a big difference between those two types of people - an infinite difference.
Which Ray Rice do you see?
I choose to see the latter. I choose to believe in second chances.