Last year, Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice was banned from the NFL after a video surfaced of himself committing violent acts against his fiancee, knocking her out by striking her in the face and then dragging her away. The graphic video raised a lot of controversy and ultimately resulted in his banishment from the team.
In the time since the video surfaced, however, Rice has been speaking out against domestic violence and has become involved with A Call to Men, an organization dedicated to ending violence against women. Some representatives of A Call to Men claim that they have seen Rice make significant changes to his lifestyle and believe he has not only felt remorse for his violent past but has worked hard to stop other men from making the same mistakes in their future, speaking at schools and working with young athletes to spread the message that domestic violence is wrong.
“We have been around a lot of abusive men, but our experience with Ray has been tremendously positive,” said Tony Porter, co-founder of A Call to Men. “We feel strongly about him having the opportunity of having a second chance. He’s deserving of it.”
As we state in our guide to Intimate Partner Violence, the effectiveness of Batterer Intervention Programs such as this is still hard to substantiate and like most complicated issues, it is difficult to determine how battering can be addressed effectively. Some studies show discouraging evidence that someone who has battered their partner can be rehabilitated, while other studies are more hopeful. One study states that of 480 men surveyed, over 50% did not assault their partner during the four-year study following batterer intervention. Unfortunately, the conflicting reports of these studies make it difficult to determine the effectiveness of batterer rehabilitation.
Rice has said that he is a rehabilitated man, and that the remorse he felt for his mistake caused him severe mental anguish, saying “I actually felt what it felt like for people to feel like it wasn’t worth living. I felt like that at one point.”
Rice’s apology was released yesterday, stating “Domestic violence is real. It happens every 12 seconds as we speak. I think that that issue alone with me in my situation, having the video — that puts a lot in perspective. That vivid memory, obviously, that was the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life. To the survivors of domestic violence, I understand how real it is, and I don’t want to ever take that for granted because this is a real issue in our society. My video put the light out there — if you have never seen what domestic violence looks like and you look at my video, I could understand why some people would never forgive me.”
Porter believes that Rice understands the weight of his mistakes and has held himself accountable for them. Porter is quoted by ESPN saying, “A lot of people think we should kick him to the curb and his name should be mud forever. But how great would it be if everyone who made a mistake made it their mission to make sure a million people don’t make the same mistake? To use the influence that he has, what a great way to correct that wrong. And that’s what Ray has committed himself to doing. His intentions are real, his heart is pure, and we’re going to help him to move forward so he can have a positive impact on the next generation of manhood.”