She was on the floor out cold. No matter how many times I watch the video, I can’t get past the fact that Janay Palmer was laid out on the floor of an elevator like a dead body. The man responsible was her soon-to-be husband NFL star Ray Rice. And as he tried to drag her out of the elevator of the Revel Casino in Atlantic City–her body halfway inside and halfway out–she barely moved. My fear of elevator accidents and an active imagination had me worried that her body would be crushed by the doors or mutilated in some freak accident where the elevator suddenly dropped while the doors were opened. But instead, Rice just tries to wake her up and a hotel worker stands in the door. Rice doesn’t seem scared. Actually, he’s very calm. And it all seems a little too normal for him.
Rice was originally suspended for two games when the news of this domestic violence incident first hit the wire back in February. At a press conference in May, Rice appeared with his wife, apologized and said the two of them were gong through counseling. Janay also apologized, saying she regretted “the role” she played in the incident. Then, months later, TMZ leaks the elevator footage and it gets ugly. People are outraged, women especially. Twitter wars are sparked between individuals who have strong opinions and their own interpretation. The pressure from the public forces the Baltimore Ravens to drop Rice from the team. The NFL suspends him indefinitely.
For Janay Palmer, getting knocked unconscious was just the beginning. Now, after getting dragged out the elevator, it’s time to get her name dragged through the mud as well. No one knows what was really going through her head, but everyone is quick to judge her for getting married only a month after she and Rice owned up to the incident. She must either be blind or be a golddigger, it’s been said. “He’s wrong, but she’s wrong, too.” How could she stay after that?, everyone is asking, Hashtag campaigns #whyIstayed and #whyIleft are launched on social media. Janay’s situation sparks people to speak out against domestic violence. The issue becomes way bigger than Ray Rice and Janay Palmer.
Though TMZ says that the NFL had the video for a while, the NFL said in a statement that the video had not been made available to them until Monday when it posted on TMZ. Earlier coverage of the physical altercation suggests that the NFL had seen the tape. Originally, they were criticized that their punishment was too lenient. Back in March, Rice was indicted by a grand jury of third degree assault. Rice struck a deal with prosecutors, which led to the charges being dropped. The NFL stood behind him throughout, protecting their investment. But since the elevator video has become splattered all over the internet, the football league has been acting like it cares. Now that people are watching, they’ve got to do the right thing. The video was too disturbing and they had to act quickly. And above all, they won’t tolerate domestic violence (at least not after the footage exists!).
But despite all the media attention, the twitter hashtags and the NFL chatter, at the end of the day, it comes down to the two of them. Do people really care about her well-being or do they dismiss her as a victim because she went ahead and married him? Back in that elevator, it was clear she needed help. He punched her, she hit him back, he punched her again, her head hit the rail, and she fell to the floor. And afterwards, he dragged her on the ground. And she was out cold.