Law enforcement gets ideas to combat domestic violence
Posted September 10, 2014
Greensboro, N.C. — As a statewide conference on domestic violence got underway Wednesday, the case of suspended NFL running back Ray Rice and his wife was a big part of the discussion.
A security video posted online Monday showed Rice punching his then-fiancee in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino in February, knocking her out. After the video went viral and produced a visceral response nationwide, the Baltimore Ravens punted Rice off the team, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.
Janay Rice, who has since married Rice, has publicly defended him, calling the suspension "horrific" and saying the couple wants to get on with their lives without public scrutiny.
"It's really relevant because of they way that people looked at that," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Jackson said. "We look at Ray Rice's wife and how upset she is. She's a victim, but yet she's married to Ray Rice and she wants to protect her family."
Carolyn Thomas, a domestic abuse survivor, understands that more than most.
Thomas was shot point-blank in the face by a former boyfriend and has endured 11 reconstructive surgeries. She now speaks with other domestic violence victims, urging them to leave abusive relationships before it's too late.
"If he hits you one time, he's definitely going to hit you again," she said. "The abuser's always saying, 'I love you. I'll never do it again,' and of course, we want to believe they do love us enough to not do it again, but it's not going to happen. They're definitely going to do it again."
Thomas was one of the speakers at the first day of the conference, which was sponsored by the U.S. Attorney's Office and centered on helping law enforcement to better understand, prevent and prosecute domestic violence.
"There are a number of federal laws and tools that our offices have that we can work together with state and local law enforcement and other folks to combat domestic violence more effectively and hold offenders more accountable," said U.S. Attorney Ripley Rand.
Rand and Jackson said federal laws on weapons, stalking and human trafficking could be applied to domestic violence cases.
Speakers at the conference also talked about domestic violence and sexual assault on college campuses. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last month adopted new policies for handling such cases.