Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Ray Rice potentially being reinstated: What does this mean for the NFL’s (and the public’s) stance on domestic violence?

We all gasped in shock, horror and disgust when the surveillance video of ex-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his now-wife Janay Rice surfaced earlier this year. We cried for swift justice and punishment for such a gruesome scene —- and the NFL complied with public opinion.

Ray was cut from the Ravens and placed on indefinite suspension from the league as a whole.

Ray was also the catalyst for new rules being put in place for domestic violence in the NFL: automatic six-game suspensions on first offenses (without pay). Second offenses are punishable with “banishment from the NFL,” wrote NFL Commissioner Robert Goodell in an open letter penned in August.

Ray Rice became a sort of present-day Ike Turner. The image of him punching Janay, then dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator, made him, for some, the face of domestic violence. It was all that anyone could talk about for weeks; celebs were even asked about it on red carpets and during interviews, and professional athletes — some of whom supported Ray before the video released, spoke out via social media against the former Raven.

Ray wisely kept out of the spotlight while things died down (and indeed, they have died down quite a bit) — but now that more than six weeks have passed since Ray’s suspension, some are saying that he has been punished enough and that he should be reinstated and be allowed to resume life as a professional athlete. And if he wins his appeal, it is possible that he could be getting his job back within the next month.

But what would his reinstatement mean to the fight against domestic violence?

According to stats, as of September 2014, one in three women have experienced violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime, while one in five women have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. To put it bluntly, those stats are scary. And it speaks to just how often domestic abuse is brushed under the rug. Problem? Definitely.

But what does this mean for Ray Rice — and the NFL? This is where things get tricky. Some might feel that reinstating Ray after committing such a horrible act is detrimental to strides made against domestic violence. Extreme force needs to be met with extreme punishment, some might say. Others might say that Ray did his time — the same way that someone serving a prison sentence would do — and, under the rules set forth by the NFL commissioner, he should be allowed to return to life as he knows it. According to Ray’s legal team, because Goodell was made aware of what was on the video (there’s a whole ’nother investigation going on in regards to the NFL’s responsibility with this whole ordeal, by the way), the player’s offenses should fall under the NFL’s shiny new six-game policy.

Whichever the case, come mid-November, Ray’s fate will be decided, as that is when a ruling on his status is expected to conclude. Hopefully, no matter what is decided, Ray Rice’s experience shines a light on a societal issue that should not be forgotten about.

 

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