Along with the rest of the world, I too watched in horror the video of Ray Rice dragging his unconscious then fiancée from an elevator. And now, the video of him punching her in the face, knocking her out cold.

stop woman abuse
Spousal abuse is dramatic, horrifying, and as the video being repeated over and over shows, something we have a hard time looking away from. Like watching that proverbial train wreck.

But it’s not the fact of the abuse itself that crushes my soul. Rather, it’s Rice’s now-wife Janay’s responses to the uproar.

She is verbalizing the mantras that every woman who has ever been abused and finally got out knows all too well. I.e., she’s defending the man who beat her.

First by attacking those who are horrified she was hit: “To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his a** off for all his life just to gain ratings is a horrific {sic}. THIS IS OUR LIFE!” she wrote in an Instagram posted September 9.

Not anymore is this just about your life—we all watched in eerie black and white as he knocked you cold.

Next by defending her husband later that day in a brief interview with ESPN: “I love my husband. I support him. I want people to respect our privacy in this family matter.”

Love? A loaded word. Especially when the one loved has knocked you flat. Is this what we call love?

Most chilling for me (and for anyone who has come out of abuse and looked back on it with the cold hard eye of Truth), was her blaming herself: “I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night, but I can say that I am happy that we continued to work through it together,” she told the press conference.

My blood ran cold. The abuser’s line is always: “You made me so angry.” “You made me do it.” “If you wouldn’t have done x, I wouldn’t have had to hit you.”

Rings a bell for every single woman ever abused by a lover or husband. He always turns it around on her. Always. Nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies a man hitting a woman.

And oh, don’t we know that roller coaster. The euphoria of believing he loves me! He truly does! And “it” will get better and better! This won’t happen again! The world is the problem, not him!

“If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all the happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is!” she wrote.

Dear God, save us. If that’s “real love,” all those years of therapy were pointless!

My award-winning novel, By the Book, while not about the abuse per se, is exactly about how a wife can “stay,” which is the question so many ask. We stay for many reasons. Many of these are practical. Many revolve around fear. But at the heart of the matter, we bought into it on some level. We believed we deserved it.

And it’s when you finally heal from that belief of unworthiness that you can walk away—no matter the circumstances.

Can an abused wife be happy?


Can a former abused wife find joy, happiness, passion, and purpose?


How have you come out of an abusive situation?


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