I usually resist watching videos released by the media that warn viewers of their graphic nature. I’d be a little more happily naïve today had I gone with my usual guidelines on media voyeurism. But maybe, as disturbing as the Ray Rice elevator-scene video was, it’s a good thing I saw it. Maybe my adolescent son and daughter should see it too. But that wasn’t my initial reaction.
It wasn’t just the blow that Ray Rice unleashed on his then-fiancé that made me wince. It was seeing the way he dragged her lifeless body out of the elevator as she lay, face down, her legs and part of her backside uncomfortably exposed, like a Barbie doll missing a key part of her outfit, that I couldn’t shake. It made me want to get a blanket and cover her up, quick.
The following day, when I read the comments of Rice’s (now) wife, once again I wanted to throw a blanket on her. This time, the blanket would have been to cover up the seemingly skewed message she delivered, particularly this segment: “THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is!”
Real love, huh?
Instead of defending the man who’d punched her unconscious, Janay Rice could have made a powerful statement and sent a strong message to young people about partner violence. But, at least publicly, she scolded the media for exposing her husband’s violence against her—something she perhaps felt ill-equipped to do.
The prevalence of domestic violence seems out of place in today’s world, when many women have become as or more powerful than men in significant ways. An ever-increasing number of women are joining the ranks of CEOs at leading companies; more women than men are enrolling in and graduating from college; and, increasingly, women (40 percent of those with children under 18) serve as the sole or primary contributor of their family’s income, according to the Pew Research Center.
Advancements aside, troubling high-profile cases of domestic violence continue to surface in the media. Chances are, many low-profile but equally horrific cases occur out of the limelight. It leaves me wondering what I can do to prevent my own adolescent children from one day becoming a perpetrator or victim in a violent relationship.
I like to think that growing up in a stable, loving family where physical violence plays no role is enough to prevent my kids from getting involved in unhealthy relationships later in life. But I’m not sure if that’s a guarantee.
After the Ray Rice video went viral, I tried talking to my kids about how wrong it is to hurt or accept harm from anyone with whom you’re in a relationship. It came out sounding stilted and preachy. I mentioned earlier that I don’t like watching videos containing warnings of their ‘graphic’ nature. To date, I’ve tried to limit my kids’ exposure to them, too. But maybe in this instance, permitting or even suggesting that my kids watch the elevator video will lead to an open conversation about domestic violence, one that packs a punch more powerful than Ray Rice’s.