MADISON, Wis. - Dane County's Domestic Abuse Intervention Services executive director said new video showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée Janay Palmer inside an Atlantic City, New Jersey, hotel elevator, provides a powerful example of how domestic abuse can happen to anyone.
"So, as a community, I think we have an obligation and a responsibility to keep our eyes open. To believe victims when they come forward," DAIS Executive Director Shannon Barry said.
The Baltimore Ravens released Rice and the NFL indefinitely suspended him Monday, the same day a shocking video surfaced showing the NFL star knocking out his future wife with a punch in February.
"Not just a punch. But a punch to the point where someone was thrown into a wall and knocked out," Barry said. "It was just so profound to me that it was so violent."
TMZ Sports posted the video Monday showing Rice and Palmer entering an elevator. Inside the elevator, Rice punches Palmer. Palmer lunges after Rice, and then Rice hits her again and she falls to the floor. This is the first time video has been released showing Rice punching her.
Actually seeing Rice hit his now-wife on Valentine's Day weekend, Barry said, was horrifying. And, as she thinks back to events leading up to his firing and suspension, she said it can give us all a glimpse into a batterer's psychology.
"During that press conference, where he portrayed himself as the victim so that she was almost an equal part in it," Barry said. "And then when you see the video it's very clear, there was an assailant, and there was a victim."
Previously, TMZ Sports had released hotel surveillance video of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator, which initially resulted in a two game suspension. It was not until the new video emerged, nearly seven months later, when the Ravens fired him.
"Ideally it should've happened much more quickly. I think it would've sent a stronger message," Barry said, adding the message many victims may now take away is they will need solid proof before they can get help.
"it could sadly reinforce what a lot of victims already believe about not being believed," Barry said.
However, Barry said victims should take comfort in Wisconsin's domestic violence law, which, in part, requires a mandatory arrest if certain criteria, including probable cause, are met in suspected domestic violence situations.
Of the many domestic violence victims often on Barry's mind she can never forget Tyrone Adair killing his children and their mothers in December 2009. Especially when these high profile cases make news, DAIS call volume reportedly drops.
Batterers use those cases to threaten their victims, especially in the case of homicides," Barry said.
Hoping domestic violence rates do not increase, Barry said it is critical for anyone who knows an abuse victim to also be willing to get them help.
DAIS offers Dane County's only domestic violence shelter. They have support groups, crisis intervention and advocacy services, and can help victim's loved ones. Their 24-hour help line is 608-251-4445.
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