Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners. – YWCA of Central Alabama
Let me clarify off the top: 1) I am not defending Ray Rice; 2) I am not questioning the merit of Janay Rice for marrying her abuser; 3) I do not believe it is the right course of action for a man to hit a woman; 4) I do not dismiss the merits of the Ray Rice case and offer no opinion on what I’m sure is a very personal horrific journey; 5) I am in prayer for Ray Rice and Janay Rice.
Now that I’ve cleared the air, I want to begin an open and honest dialogue around domestic violence. The Ray and Janay Rice situation has caused an explosive domestic violence debate. And most often, the dialogue focuses on women victims…and rightfully so, the most recent statistic reflects 85% of reported domestic violence abused victims are women. The key word, however, is reported. Men are less likely to report domestic violence abuse for a myriad of reasons including perception and the fear of scrutiny. But we must face the fact, that men have the right not to be hit by their female partners. Period. Increasingly, more and more women are quick to emasculate their intimate partners knowing that society will not tolerate a man hitting a woman…even if the woman is the aggressor.
We cannot continue to invalidate men and their feelings by stating they should be the bigger person, take abuse, and walk away. It is true, men in most cases are physically stronger than women, and should do their best to protect themselves while keeping this fact in mind. However, women have to respect men and their feelings by not putting their hands on them. Domestic Violence cuts both ways. While men may not report it, women are very capable of committing this horrific act against men. Men must constantly be aware that if they attempt to defend themselves or do nothing to defend themselves, they will never be given the benefit of the doubt. And on top of that, they will be joked about if they practice restraint and ultimately called all sorts of names such as hen picked or weak. Remember, the Jay Z/Solange elevator incident or Tiger Woods/Elin incident? So many jokes, memes, and accusations were made around those situation, but hardly anyone spoke out about the unjust violence that were directed at those men. In fact, it was hardly ever said “a man cannot provoke a woman to hit him, no matter what he has done”, but it is said ” he cheated on his wife or what is it that he did to make her hit him”. We’ve got to begin to have a larger conversation on violent actions among women and men. And stop putting men in parenthesis when discussing domestic violence but recognize that hurt people hurt people…whether they are male or female.
Let’s keep the conversation going and continue to pray for Ray and Janay Rice, and all victims of domestic violence, men and women. Let’s stop the blame game and the assumption game. Let’s start by simply and honestly saying, a woman should not hit a man and a man should not hit a woman, ever! Neither has a right to! And if we begin by helping people love and value themselves, then they will begin to value and love others.