Violence Against Women, Ray Rice, and the NFL - Part 1 by Lisa Merlo-Booth, MA

A note from Roberta -- There are times I feel passionately about a topic and begin to write a blog entry. In this case, my colleague Lisa Merlo-Booth beat me to the punch. She has covered this topic so completely that there was no need for me to reinvent the wheel. I asked Lisa's permission to post this on my website. You will be well informed when you finish reading her 2 part series.


(c) 2014 Lisa Merlo-Booth

Back in July of this year, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. was given a two game suspension for hitting his fiancée. (A video of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator following that incident had circulated throughout the media at that time).

Ray Rice was indicted for this offense on one count of aggravated assault against Janay Palmer. Ms. Palmer (his then fiancée) subsequently married Ray Rice one day after he was indicted by a grand jury for the incident.

Much to the NFL’s and Rice’s chagrin, a video was released earlier today showing that Rice first knocked Ms. Palmer unconscious in the elevator, which is why he was dragging her out of it when the doors opened a minute later.

The release of this video has resulted in Ray Rice being cut by the Ravens NFL Professional Football team on Monday, September 8, 2014. Apparently the NFL now wants to send a clear message that they do not support domestic violence.

The release of this latest video has the NFL, Rice, commentators and who knows who else running to the cameras to apologize, “be accountable” and make things “right.” Commentators are apologizing for saying women shouldn’t provoke, the NFL is saying they’re sorry they previously messed this one up, Rice is saying this is not the kind of man he is and that his wife is an “angel.”

My, my, the power of a video! The video of this event can be seen here:

I’d like to say I’m appalled by this video, or shocked by the NFL’s initial two game punishment of Ray Rice for knocking his fiancée unconscious. I wish I could say that I’m amazed that the NFL punishes its players more harshly for smoking marijuana than for beating women unconscious. I would love to say that I can’t believe that someone with so much money, resources and fame would ever stoop so low as to knock his fiancée unconscious and then drag her body out of an elevator.

Most of all, I wish I could say that I’m utterly shocked that Ray Rice’s fiancée married him soon after this incident.

Unfortunately, I’m not shocked, amazed or even surprised by ANY of the above. All of the above simply speaks to the culture of violence against women that is so prevalent in professional sports and in our world at large. These incidents aren’t new; they’re not new in the arena of the NFL, nor are they new in our world at large.

The statistics speak for themselves

Eliana Dockterman, writer for, writes, “According to statistics from U-T San Diego, 21 of 32 NFL teams employed a player with a domestic or sexual violence charge on their record last year.” (

Domestic Violence Statistics reports that: (

• Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family. • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.

The US Department of Justice reports:

• About 20 million out of 112 million women (18%) in the United States have been raped during their lifetime.

• In 2006 alone, 300,000 college women (5.2%) were raped.

• Among college women, about 12% of rapes were reported to law enforcement.

• According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Criminal Victimization Survey, in 2010, there were 188,380 reported rapes or sexual assaults of a person 12 years or older.

• In 2010, 12% of rapes and sexual assaults involved a weapon.

One in Four reports: ( • In the U.S. military academies, 5% of women report surviving rape every year, as do 2.4% of the men (Snyder, Fisher, Scherer & Daigle, 2012).

• 5% of women on college campuses experience rape or attempted rape every year (Kilpatrick, Resnick, Riggierio, Conoscenti & McCauley, 2007; American College Health Association, 2013).

• Of those women who enter the Navy, 46% are rape survivors prior to their service.

• Of those men who enter the Navy, 15% are perpetrators prior to their service.

• 28% of women in the military experienced rape during their military service (Sadler, Booth & Doebbeling, 2005). • Of those women who men rape in the military, 96% of the perpetrators are U.S. military men (Sadler, Booth & Doebbeling, 2005).

• Every year in the United States, 1,270,000 women experience rape (Black, Basile, Breiding, Smith, Walters & Merrick, 2011).

Shocked? No, I’m not shocked. Outraged—yes. Saddened—yes. Disgusted—ABSOLUTELY.

To be shocked requires that this news is something out of the ordinary—something that seldom happens. Violence against women is, sadly, NOT out of the ordinary. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it would be very difficult for you to find more than a handful of women in your circle who have not experienced some kind of physical violence, sexual harassment or sexual assault in her lifetime by a man—be it a stranger, an acquaintance or a family member, friend or lover. Violence against women isn’t new. It’s shamefully not shocking and it IS an epidemic.

Women are used as prizes in times of war, kidnapped, raped, drugged and trafficked throughout the world and sold as sexual objects for the gratification of men. They are groped, whistled at, threatened, beaten, intimidated, molested and on and on by fathers, brothers, uncles, friends, lovers, husbands, neighbors, coaches, priests and any other “trusted” male in so many of these women’s lives.

I truly hope the NFL will begin to make huge strides in curbing the messages—spoken and unspoken—regarding violence against women both in the NFL and outside of it. I hope that all the men in the world will consistently and powerfully take a stand against the physical and sexual violence against women—their wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.

And I hope women will begin to unite against the violence against all of us and stand strong for our own sakes as well as the sakes of our daughters, sisters, mothers and friends. We cannot stop men from being violent, however we can learn to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the violence.

Challenge: Don’t be a part of the problem—be part of the solution. Women–learn how to protect yourself, find your voice and don’t settle for poor treatment from anyone. Men—be the safest person in the lives of all the women around you. Speak out against violence, hold other men accountable for violence and don’t ever minimize it. It takes a village—let this incident be a catalyst for true change that goes far beyond a few media highlights.

Lisa Merlo-Booth is a therapist and relationship coach with more than 20 years' experience working with couples in the US and Europe. She is known for teaching women to effect change in ways that are grounded, respectful and strong. She can be found at

#relationships #women

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