DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – As the Ray Rice videotaped elevator assault went viral, the outrage was instant. His now wife, Janay, took to social media today to defend her husband—prompting many to second guess her actions. But, one local expert says many of the questions are misplaced.
“But, rather than ask ‘why did she stay’ or ‘why did she marry,’ I think we need to keep our eyes on the ball and say ‘why did he do it,’” says Jan Langbein, CEO of Dallas’ Genesis Women’s Shelter. “What kind of man punches his wife?”
Langbein says she is not surprised to see victims stay with or return to their abusers—citing a grooming process that starts long before the violence turns physical.
“Little by little by little, he will chip away at who she was, and when he does finally hit her, she is not the woman she was,” says Langbein. “She is not the woman who could have stood up to it 6 months ago, a year ago, 5 years ago.”
Experts say the reasons that woman stay with their abusers are complicated—ranging from fear to financial concerns, to the slow loss of confidence.
“I was so convinced that I couldn’t do it on my own as a single mother,” says Jenna, 27, “and that was a large part of why I tried to stay for so long.” Jenna told CBS 11 that it took two years for her to escape an abusive marriage. For Marissa Castro, it took ten—and the realization that she was not the only victim.
“My son looked confused, scared, and just the look in his eyes. I knew that’d be the day.” Castro safely escaped and has since rebuilt her life.
According to Langbein, the Rice assault and the attention it garnered has generated important discussions on domestic violence. But, she says we should remember that on the very same day that it occurred, 7,000 others were beaten as well, minus the videotaped evidence and attention.
“I wish we could raise the outrage of the community for all victims of domestic violence, not just the wives of football players. I think we need to have the same zero tolerance for all victims of family violence.”
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