Football fans turned their attention to the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, after TMZ released a video of Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée in a casino elevator. The league ultimately suspended him indefinitely, and the team terminated his contract.
After the incident back in February, Rice was charged with assault, and video from outside the elevator showed him dragging her unconscious body. Without the hard evidence of his attack, though, he had initially only been suspended two games.
This high-profile case provides an opportunity for us to consider our response to domestic violence, which can often seem too little, too late.
Ray Rice’s now-wife Janay Palmer Rice, who did not press charges, says her husband’s punishment and the media attention over the case feels like a horrible nightmare. She hates having “to relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day.”
Like many survivors of domestic abuse, deep down, she may be asking, “Is it my fault?” Most assume they did something to spur their abusers on, that they were too passive or too demanding, or that they are somehow to blame for the abuse.
Yet, research on domestic violence reveals that a woman’s behavior actually has no bearing on the abuse. Psychologists Neil Jacobson and John Gottman say it plainly: “There was nothing battered women could do to stop the abuse except get out of the relationship.”
Unfortunately, victims not only blame themselves, but are also blamed by the perpetrator and society. Social psychology researchers have found that we hold prejudices against domestic violence victims. These negative stereotypes make victims feel socially derogated, ...1
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