After football star Ray Rice's contract was terminated by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, Janay Palmer Rice became the nation’s most famous battered wife, a fierce defender of her husband and, to domestic violence experts and survivors, an extraordinarily public example of the complex psychology of women abused by men, reports the New York Times. “Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is,” she posted on her Instagram account. Her post implied that the assault was taken out of context, and it is not clear she views herself as a victim of abuse. Thousands of others, including domestic violence survivors and the therapists who counsel them, have drawn upon their own experiences to answer why Ms. Rice would stand by her husband after he struck her with such force that she collapsed, unconscious.
Experts in domestic violence cautioned that much was unknown about the Rice case, starting with whether the football player hit his partner more than once. They added that economic reliance was a leading predictor of whether a woman would leave her abuser. “It's incredibly difficult to extricate yourself when you're financially dependent,” said Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor of nursing at Johns Hopkins University. Testifying against Rice for assaulting her in New Jersey would have meant ending his football career, embarrassing the team and possibly sending her daughter's father to jail. Instead, Janay Palmer married him the day after the indictment. “Many times a victim becomes so dependent on her partner for everything that she can't even entertain a reality without him in it,” said Ramani Durvasula, a psychology professor at California State University, Los Angeles. “I don't know that any of us would have been strong, brave or courageous enough to push back on a billion-dollar organization and a man that she loves.”