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Tag: domestic violence

House Renews Violence Against Women Act — But 172 Republicans Vote NO

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The overwhelming majority of House Republicans voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act Wednesday, just 24 hours after eight women – including six Asian American women – were gunned down in a shooting spree at a series of Atlanta spas by a shooter who is now claiming he has a sex addiction.

The legislation passed 244-172, with a mere 29 Republicans joining Democrats to support the bill. No Democrat voted against it. The bill now heads to the Senate.

The Violence Against Women Act is Clinton-era legislation that was sponsored in 1993 by then-Senator Joe Biden. Originally so uncontroversial it passed on a voice vote in the House and by 95-4 in the Senate, the law must be regularly renewed. It is currently expired because then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to allow it to be re-authorized in 2019.

Urging passage of the critical bill, President Biden in a statement last week said: "Delay is not an option, especially when the pandemic and economic crisis have only further increased the risks of abuse and the barriers to safety for women in the United States. Domestic violence is being called a pandemic within the COVID-19 pandemic, with growing evidence showing that the conditions of the pandemic have resulted in escalated rates of intimate partner violence, and in some cases more severe injuries."

Experts Worry Domestic Violence May Increase During Pandemic Holiday Season

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on all of us. Even if you've been fortunate enough to keep your job and stay healthy, the stress of remote learning, working from home, rescheduling events, and avoiding potentially high-risk situations often feels like too much for us to handle.

But for many Americans, the chaos brought about by the coronavirus has another, potentially more dangerous impact: it's increased the likelihood and frequency of domestic abuse incidents. And with the holidays just around the corner, experts are worried that victims might find themselves in even more hazardous situations.

When countries have entered lockdown status, domestic violence reports have skyrocketed -- and that doesn't even account for the victims who are unable or don't feel empowered to seek support. One women's aid organization in the UK reported that calls increased by 25 percent during the lockdown there in the spring. That trend has been seen worldwide, and the U.S. certainly hasn't been spared. COVID-19 restrictions have forced more people to stay at home -- and combined with other stressors related to the pandemic, both victims and advocates have feared that this health crisis would quickly translate into personal crises for many people. Considering that homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women and nearly half of female victims are killed by a current or former male intimate partner, there's certainly reason for worry.

That's especially true as the holidays approach. Data shows that Christmas Day and New Year's Day tend to prompt an influx of calls to domestic violence hotlines the world over, though there's no one specific reason as to why. A combination of alcohol consumption, increased contact between abusers and victims, financial stress, and other factors can make domestic abuse more likely to occur during this time of year. Access to services may also be limited around the holidays -- and in the midst of an ongoing or impending lockdown, that could be disastrous for many people.

It's also worth noting that although 3.6 million open wounds are reported in the U.S. each year, not all domestic abuse is physical in nature. In fact, many abusive relationships feature no physical violence at first. That said, the pressure of the holidays could culminate into a violent or dangerous event. And because many people are under pressure to stay home and away from loved ones this year in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, this could keep domestic violence victims feeling even more isolated during times of upheaval.

If you or someone you love experiences domestic abuse during this time of year, it's important to seek help in a safe way. The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when one partner prepares to leave. And because abusers will typically isolate their victims to ensure their dependency, it can be incredibly difficult for them to remove themselves from this situation. Contacting the Domestic Violence Support Hotline can be a great first step, even before getting in touch with one of the 1,315,561 lawyers working in the United States.

While COVID-19 will be sticking around for a while yet, that doesn't mean you have to follow suit. Leaving or even identifying an abusive relationship is far tougher than most people realize -- but it all starts with taking the small first step of seeking support.

Social Workers Fear Rise In Domestic Violence During Quarantines

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

While most Americans huddle inside their homes watching and worrying as the coronavirus pandemic stalks the country, desperate emails have poured into ProPublica, some almost shouting their fears for the unseen victims of the vast and unprecedented national shutdown.

A Florida social worker wrote of her panic for her developmentally disabled clients, who are shut in their homes, unable to even use the bathroom without help. What will happen to them if she and her colleagues fall ill?

“We’re going to be seeing some deaths in our caseloads,” she said in an interview. “We might not even know about it until they’ve been dead for several days.”

In Oklahoma, a medical technician begged us to keep an eye on the nation’s elderly, describing retirement homes that were relying on “cans of Lysol in poorly ventilated hallways as their major defense.” Social distancing in such places, he wrote, “is nonexistent.”

A child protective services worker in the Northeast sent a terrifying list of what kept her up at night: “That my families will literally run out of food, formula, diapers. That some of them may die for lack of treatment. That some children may be injured or harmed through inadequate supervision as their desperate parents try to work. That stress may lead to more child abuse.”

And in Manhattan, an outreach worker who takes food and supplies to the homeless, wrote simply: “We are drowning.”

“It feels,” she wrote, “like our city completely abandoned our clients, and our company abandoned our workers.”

These are dispatches from the front lines of America’s beleaguered social service system, which strains to care for millions of vulnerable people in the best of times. By the dozens, they have written, urging that the country not overlook a secondary crisis growing out of the global pandemic: that those who already live on the margins, many of whom rely on consistent, face-to-face support for survival, will suffer out of public view, behind doors kept shut to keep the virus out.

In emails and calls, they worried that skyrocketing unemployment will further stress households prone to violence. They foresaw elderly people, already at highest risk, losing both family and social work support as they further isolate. Others agonized over the consequences if they couldn’t visit children in neglectful or abusive households or help the disabled or ailing.

Then there are the collateral victims of the virus who perhaps few have pondered, like the victims of rape or sexual assault, who may stay away from overrun hospitals for fear of exposure.

“I think we’re seeing the public health system in the United States being revealed for what it is, which is really a patchwork of extremely vulnerable microsystems that are each on their own scrambling to respond as quickly as possible,” said Rachel Walker, a nurse and incoming director of the Ph.D. program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing.

In New York, where the pandemic is upending millions of lives, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced tighter restrictions to control movement on Friday. He exempted human services workers but didn’t offer specifics to protect them or their clients.

Over the past week, ProPublica reporters have spoken with more than two dozen such workers in New York and across the country. What they describe is a system unprepared to deal with a national health crisis, lacking clear backup plans and rife with confusion over guidelines from federal, state and local agencies. The choices foisted on them, they said, were gutting. Some said they themselves are living just above poverty level; a missed home visit could mean a missed paycheck at a crucial time.

Here are some reports from the front:

Child Welfare

Georgia Boothe, the executive vice president of Children’s Aid, now starts each day in a once-unimaginable bind.

Her nonprofit agency oversees the cases of more than 700 children who New York City’s child welfare officials believe are at risk of abuse or neglect. The stakes are high normally, but now she also must worry about the health of her nearly 300 workers as they make critical home visits.

Will they bring infection to the door or become infected while inside? Many workers must use the bus or subway to see clients. And the visits are required by law. If she misses them, her agency could lose its city contracts, or worse, fail to spot and intervene in a situation that puts a child at risk of harm.

And unlike many workers in other professions, video visits or phone calls by her staff are risky, Boothe said. The remote visits may not offer a full picture of conditions in the home. Many homes are crowded, making people less inclined to speak frankly if they know they can be overheard.

She said conditions in troubled homes could easily deteriorate without proper support from agencies like hers — even without the added stress of the global pandemic that is robbing many families of jobs and child care.

“Neglect happens because people make difficult decisions due to a lack of resources,” she said. Families will struggle if relatives become sick, she said, or parents may leave children unsupervised to go to work.

On Friday, the Administration for Children’s Services told Boothe her staff could only use video calls if either the families or specific staff members were currently experiencing symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 or had underlying health conditions that might make them more vulnerable to it.

Her agency can use its discretion, and Boothe is worried that she might lose workers under those terms, which will put additional pressure on those who remain.

Ronald Richter led New York City’s child welfare agency during Superstorm Sandy. Now he is at the helm of the Jewish Child Care Association, one of the city’s largest providers of foster care and other services for kids and families in need.

“With Sandy you could take to the streets and address urgent human needs like food, medicine and finding alternate places to live,” he said. “This feels like you are constantly waiting for guidance about how to engage in mandated services, but you are hamstrung in that you are trying to engage in human services without human contact.”

He regards his staff as first responders to children in crisis, but right now, he said, they lack basic supplies to function that way.

Like Boothe, Richter worries about the infection risk for his workers. But while his agency received some personal protective equipment supplies this week, they are already running low, he said.

“We’re not nearly in the position that we need to be for the long haul of this,” Richter said.

The stress on his workers and their families is growing, too. The city has set up free child care for health care workers in light of the school closures, but as of Friday, there was no clarity on whether front-line child welfare workers would also qualify for it.

In response to questions, Administration for Children’s Services spokeswoman Chanel Caraway said in a statement that the health and safety of child welfare workers and their clients are a “top priority” and that the agency is “currently working with input from our State oversight agency on guidance that will allow for more flexibility when it comes to conducting home visits to ensure children are safe.”

In Washington, D.C., Judith Sandalow, the executive director of the Children’s Law Center, said the closure of schools is having dangerous consequences for children, starting with hunger. There are normally 200 schools serving two free meals a day to kids throughout the nation’s capital, she said. But, as of Tuesday, all were closed and only 20 continued to serve food.

“Not every family can get to one of those schools,” she said. “If parents are at work during the hours that it’s open, kids may not be able to go on their own.”

She said she understood the need for the closures, but that it removed a crucial safety net for at-risk children. Teachers and school employees are often the first to see signs of abuse and neglect, such as bruises, cuts or signs of malnourishment, and they are legally required to report such concerns to authorities. Without them, those problems could go unnoticed, she said.

Sandalow predicted that COVID-19 will cause “very significant negative costs in the form of child abuse, domestic violence, hunger and long-term educational and behavioral health problems.”

In Texas, doctors at the Cook Children’s Health Care System saw a sudden spike in severe child abuse cases this week, six children under the age four, which they suspect are linked to stresses from the pandemic. Christi Thornhill, director of the system’s trauma program, said “We knew an increase was going to occur, but this happened faster than we ever imagined.”

Domestic Violence

When Gwyn Kaitis heard that the measures to prevent the spread of the virus required families to stay in their homes, her mind raced through the consequences. Kaitis is the policy coordinator for the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and one thing she knows is that “violence increases when you have circumstances such as unemployment and isolation.”

Sequestered with their abusers, victims will lose a safe space to call for help, she said. “A lot of the time, survivors will contact us when the abuser isn’t in the home, when they are at work. There isn’t an opportunity to do that now.”

She used to run a shelter herself and is still haunted by the memory of a man who waited outside it one day with a shotgun. “Probably waiting for his spouse to come out,” she said. “Sometimes nothing stops these offenders, and that’s very, very frightening.”

In Ocala, Florida, Tara Dalrymple, a 20-year volunteer at a women and children’s crisis center, echoed Kaitis’ concerns. She worried too that victims of sexual assault may fear exposure to the virus and avoid hospitals. They may not know there are local crisis centers available for critical, sensitive procedures like rape examinations, Dalrymple said.

“I just don’t want to see victims feel like they have nowhere to go,” she said.

Homelessness

On Wednesday, an outreach worker in Manhattan, who delivers food and supplies to the homeless, sent ProPublica a desperate plea.

The majority of her clients, she wrote, are at high risk of dying from COVID-19 because they already suffer serious underlying health problems. Fewer pedestrians, she said, means fewer handouts of food and money. Most of her clients don’t have cellphones, so she needs to see them every day. That creates its own risk, she said. She could unknowingly contract the virus and spread it to them.

Asked about the worker’s allegations and other concerns, the city’s Department of Social Services said on Wednesday that several city agencies are “always prepared to connect clients to any medical services they may need for any reason, including as it relates to COVID-19.”

But in a phone call Wednesday evening, the outreach worker said she and her team had seen 50 clients that day, all of them living on the streets, many of them elderly, with no friends or relatives, and suffering illnesses like emphysema, diabetes and cancer. “For a lot of those people,” she said, “I’m the only other person in their lives.”

To her knowledge, the city had not established any clear guidelines for how to get homeless people who are infected with the virus off the streets. There aren’t enough hospital beds. And, even for those who don’t need to be hospitalized, there aren’t any quarantine centers where they could be moved until they recover.

Richard Cho, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, said a shelter in Danbury had closed because it was staffed almost entirely by elder volunteers who were worried about being exposed to the virus. Another shelter in Wyndham was close to closing for similar reasons, he said. In the meantime, he and his colleagues were scrambling to find alternative housing for the displaced wherever they could: hotels, public apartments, rooms with relatives, a friend’s couch.

“We call it, ‘shelter diversion,’” Cho said. “That’s how we’re spending a lot of our time right now.”

Some on the front lines said they were trying to tend to their clients without basic protections. A nurse at an addiction recovery program in Massachusetts that primarily serves homeless patients wrote that she and her colleagues were working with “zero access to alcohol-based sanitizer” because they can’t have anything alcohol-based in reach of their clients who are detoxing. Instead, she said, they use a less-effective hand sanitizer, though nurses were recently told they could keep small amounts of alcohol-based sanitizer on their person. That’s critical: Without a single sink in the nurses’ station, it’s not easy to wash their hands between appointments with clients.

“I worry for the patients that are HIV-positive or have COPD or uncontrolled diabetes,” she said in a follow-up interview. “These are typically people who don’t have access to regular medications. I worry what a disease like COVID could do to them.”

In New York City, Shelly Nortz, the deputy executive director for policy at the Coalition for the Homeless, said most shelters are crammed full; barely able to keep a roof over the heads of the 62,000 people they serve. They have even less space for “social distancing” and isolation.

In a telephone interview, Nortz said she’s worried that staff are not properly trained to identify people infected with the virus. And while state and federal authorities negotiate over whether to deploy the military to set up temporary medical centers, Nortz said, shelter and outreach workers are forced to send any homeless people infected with the virus to the hospital.

“I heard someone say there’s a tsunami headed for our health care system,” she said. “They’re right.”

Nortz said city officials on Wednesday night indicated that they were in the process of opening several hundred housing units, mostly hotel rooms, for clients who had contracted COVID-19. The city also plans to deploy nurses to city shelters to screen residents for fevers.

When asked when she expected the crisis to peak, Nortz pointed out that New York’s shelters have already reported their first confirmed case of the virus, which likely means countless others are already infected too. “The mayhem,” she said, “is here.”

The Elderly

Elizabeth Wilson, a 63-year-old home health care worker in Oregon, detailed the grim calculus that is likely playing out in the homes of millions of elderly clients across the country.

Wilson said she relies on the $500 a month she makes helping an 83-year-old client with medication and household needs. The money goes toward her share of rent for the subsidized apartment she lives in, she said, as well as a car payment and health insurance.

But this week, her client’s husband started coughing and feeling ill with symptoms that Wilson worried could be a sign of COVID-19 infection. Her employer initially offered her no personal protective gear but eventually provided a box of gloves.

“We are at the bottom of the totem pole out there with the clients,” she said. “It just seems kind of remiss.”

On Thursday morning, Wilson decided to stay home, foregoing her pay and the needs of her client to stay healthy. Since then, she has tried to assure herself that they will be OK without her for a shift.

She later received an email from her union, advising her and her colleagues not to visit clients exhibiting symptoms. Now she feels like she made the right decision but worries for her client and her own financial stability. She said she can’t file for unemployment because she only works part time.

“I’m in limbo,” she said. “But there is a lot of stuff in limbo.”

Raeann LeBlanc, a nurse and assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing, said “the vulnerabilities really stack up” when it comes to elderly patients and COVID-19.

On Thursday, she said, she visited a couple in their 60s, both with advanced diseases, but she could not even address their medical frailties because they had a more urgent concern: food. She wound up going to a pantry for them instead.

LeBlanc said there is already a shortage of home care workers throughout the country. They are among the lowest paid health care workers, she said, eking by on less than a living wage and sometimes lacking health insurance themselves.

She said equipment is always an issue, and she anticipates supplies dwindling sharply for home health workers in the age of the coronavirus.

“We’re hearing about it in the hospital setting,” she said, referring to equipment shortages. “Not even talking about it yet in the home health care system.”

Get Involved

Please point us to any stories about communities especially vulnerable during the pandemic, including people who are elderly or disabled, who are experiencing homelessness or who can talk to us about foster care, domestic violence, sexual assault and more by filling out our questionnaire. If you’d like to get in touch with us another way, send an email to coronavirus@propublica.org, message us on Signal at ‪201-701-0850 or visit propublica.org/tips.

Questions we’d especially like answered:

  • What happens when social services providers can no longer see the people they care for?
  • If you work with a vulnerable community: Do you feel prepared to help your clients get proper treatment and testing for COVID-19?

Shanahan Withdraws Following Disclosure Of Domestic Violence Charges

Trump’s pick for defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, has withdrawn from consideration and will step down as acting defense secretary after a family domestic violence scandal surfaced.

It’s been 168 days since former Defense Secretary James Mattis left the Trump administration in protest on January 1 — and the nation will have to wait even longer for a new permanent defense secretary. Shahanan’s exit also means that the Department of Defense doesn’t have confirmed nominees in four of the five top posts, according to the Military Times’ Leo Shane III.

“Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who has done a wonderful job, has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. “I thank Pat for his outstanding service and will be naming Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, to be the new Acting Secretary of Defense. I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!”

According to USA Today, the FBI has been looking into a 2010 incident between Shanahan and his ex-wife. Shanahan reportedly told police that his ex-wife, Kimberly, had punched him, while Kimberly told police that Shanahan had punched her. The Washington Post also reported that Shanahan’s son seriously injured Kimberly by beating her with a baseball bat, and that Shanahan defended his son because his mother “harassed him for nearly three hours before the incident.”

Shanahan is the latest Trump Cabinet nominee to be felled by a domestic violence scandal.

Andrew Puzder was forced to withdraw from consideration as Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Labor thanks to a domestic violence scandal. And others have been forced to leave the administration after domestic violence incidents from their past emerged, notably former White House staff secretary Rob Porter.

It’s yet another instance of poor vetting by the Trump administration, which USA Today reports did not know about the domestic violence incident before nominating Shanahan to be deputy secretary of defense in 2017, nor when Trump decided to promote Shanahan to the Pentagon’s top role earlier this year following Mattis’ departure.

Trump, for his part, has already faced criticism for how long he’s left such an important administration role vacant.

But that criticism is likely to grow. Shanahan’s withdrawal from consideration comes as the Trump administration is escalating tensions with Iran, and days after Shanahan approved an additional 1,000 troops to be deployed to the Middle East.

Trump’s inability to nominate a competent person for such a vital role is a scary thought, especially as the worst voices in his orbit like national security adviser John Bolton push Trump toward conflictwith hostile nations.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

IMAGE: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan at the Pentagon, May 6, 2019.

The Supreme Court Just Affirmed That Domestic Violence Vacates Gun Rights — Here’s Why That’s So Important

It was a busy morning for the Supreme Court. On Monday, the court struck down a Texas law that required Texas abortion clinics to have “admitting privileges,” and to be built up to hospital standards — even though neither make abortions much safer. It also reversed the bribery conviction of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell.

The Supreme court also decided an important case for the future of America’s gun death epidemic. In a 6-2 vote — a notable tally on the evenly ideologically divided bench — the court ruled in Voisine v. United States that domestic violence, even unintentional or “reckless” violence, still justifies limiting access to guns. As Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her opinion, “Reckless conduct, which requires the conscious disregard of a known risk, is not an accident: It involves a deliberate decision to endanger another.”

The details of the case are fairly thorny: The court ruled that all sorts of domestic violence, even cases in which the abuser simply “consciously disregard[ed]” the effects of his or her actions, in addition to those cases in which violence was committed “knowingly or intentionally”, are grounds for precluding access to guns.

But the effects of the case are vast: Thirty-four states and the District of Colombia have defined the Lautenberg Amendment, the legislation governing the dispute in question, as including “reckless” instances of domestic violence as grounds for prohibition of gun ownership. This decision expands that standard nationwide, broadening the definition of the only federal misdemeanor that prohibits firearm or ammunition possession.

After the Orlando massacre, as politicians and concerned citizens nationwide strained to find an answer for the kind of mass-casualty hate crime Omar Mateen carried out, a small handful pointed out an obvious red flag: Mateen was an extremely abusive romantic partner.

And although he had no criminal record in adulthood, as details about Mateen’s past became more widely available, so too did the argument that domestic violence is often a predictor of gun violence. Huffington Post reported today:

Domestic violence and guns are known to be a deadly combination. Experts say that if an abuser has access to a gun, victims are five times more likely to be killed. A study published earlier this year found that simply living in a state with a high rate of gun ownership increases a woman’s chance of being fatally shot in a domestic violence situation.

There is more than can be done to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, including requiring the subjects of restraining orders to temporarily turn in their weapons, and taking guns from accused domestic abusers awaiting trial.

But the court’s decision today emphasizes one of the most overlooked truths of gun violence in the United States: Victims often personally know perpetrators.

Of women murdered by men, 93 percent in 2014 were killed by someone they knew — and the majority were intimate partners of their killers. More than half of women killed with guns in 2011 were killed in domestic disputes. And, according to a study of every available mass shooting between January 2009 and July 2014, 57 percent of them involved the killing of a family member or a current or former intimate partner of the shooter.

 

Photo: A pile of handguns are placed in a trash bin after they were surrendered during a gun buyback program organized by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development Office in Los Angeles, California, December 14, 2013.  REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian  

Senator Presses NFL On Domestic Violence Ahead Of Super Bowl

By Niels Lesniewski, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal isn’t convinced the National Football League is doing everything possible to address domestic violence.

The Connecticut Democrat is particularly skeptical of the way the NFL plans to allocate $25 million over five years to back groups that fight domestic violence. Some of that money will come in the form of “promotional support” to entities such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, according to a letter to Blumenthal and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) from Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Aside from the dollar value seeming small compared to the NFL’s multibillion-dollar revenues, Blumenthal sounds dubious of the promotional elements, and he fired off a response letter to Goodell on Friday.

“Even at the current level of commitment, when it comes to clear terms for timing and action, the NFL has hedged and dodged. The letter implies that some of the $25 million would be used for promotional support, which may include public service announcements,” Blumenthal said. “These supposed ‘public service’ ads may also be self-serving — promoting the NFL’s public image as much as raising awareness. Insofar as they raise public awareness, they are likely to substantially increase call volume to the hotline as well as requests for service without actually bolstering resources for local service providers that struggle every day to help survivors rebuild their lives.”

There is a significant additional commitment for public service announcements from the League, Goodell wrote in his letter.

“During the past regular season, the NFL donated its institutional media time during game broadcasts to run PSAs featuring celebrities, as well as current and former NFL players, that were produced in conjunction with the advocacy group NO MORE,” Goodell wrote, valuing the commitment at about $50 million, running through the Super Bowl.

Blumenthal’s response also highlights the potential for a legislative response.

“Regardless of financial commitment, the NFL so far has not articulated how it will ensure that its athletes are genuinely good role models to fans – a step that only the NFL can take towards truly shifting the culture,” he wrote. “Taken in totality, I believe that the NFL’s handling of its response to public outcry over the league’s role in domestic violence is a clear indication of why additional oversight of professional sports leagues is necessary. I plan to reintroduce the SPORTS Act to make sure that Congress and the public have the ability to periodically and formally review the appropriateness of the antitrust exemptions.”

AFP Photo

A Contrite Ray Rice Says He Hopes For ‘Second Chance’ In NFL

By Aaron Wilson, The Baltimore Sun (TNS)

Huddled around his wife and her parents in their New York home, former Ravens star Ray Rice made his first comments since he was reinstated from an indefinite NFL suspension for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy.

During an interview that aired Tuesday morning on NBC’s Today, the three-time Pro Bowl running back was asked what he would say to an NFL owner or group of fans to convince them he should get another opportunity to play.

“One thing I would think they would have to be willing to look deeper into who I am and realize me and my wife had one bad night and I took full responsibility for,” Rice said. “One thing about my punishment is I accepted it. I went fully forward with it. I never complained. I never did anything like that. I took full responsibility for everything that I did. The only thing that I can hope for and wish for is a second chance.”

Rice was arrested in February after knocking out his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City casino elevator. He was charged with felony aggravated assault but avoided jail time through a pretrial intervention program.

The interview with Matt Lauer touched on several topics, including a controversial news conference held in May at the Ravens’ training complex, where Rice apologized to several people in the Ravens organization, but not his wife, who sat next to him. Rice acknowledged he should have apologized to his wife. He also referenced what his wife, Janay, said during an interview that aired Monday, that the Ravens gave her suggestions of what to say.

“The reason why that press conference was the way it was is because we were still under legal situations,” Rice said. “So, there wasn’t much that could be said. I’ll be honest. We were nervous. I was nervous. It was the first time that we were available to speak and I made a horrendous mistake not apologizing to my wife.

“When we were going in we were given what to speak about. It wasn’t truly coming from us if you can understand. I made that clear the last time I was able to speak: My wife is an angel, she can do no wrong. I take fully responsibility for my actions.”

Janay Rice’s apology during that news conference raised eyebrows as well. Ray Rice said that was a matter of his wife attempting to help him at a time where they were under major scrutiny.

Rice was originally suspended for two games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who later increased the suspension to an indefinite one in September when a graphic video surfaced on TMZ of Rice knocking out his wife with a punch. Following an appeal hearing where his lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, argued that Rice was being subjected to double jeopardy and punished twice for the same violation, Rice was reinstated Friday by former federal judge Barbara S. Jones.

“In hindsight, I think she (apologized) that because she knows what I do for a living,” Rice said. “She understood my job and my profession. They were thinking her doing that to take light off the situation. I appreciated it, but that’s not what the big deal is. The big deal is for me to always protect her and that’s why I take full responsibility. She can do no wrong. This is something as a man you have to own and we’re horribly sorry and I’m horribly sorry for everything I ever put my family through.”

Turning emotional, Rice talked about their young daughter, Rayven, and what she’ll have to go through in the fallout from her parents’ high-profile fight.

“I still have to live every day and take my daughter to school,” Rice said. “She’s going to grow up, and the way the Internet works now she’s going to Google her father’s name and the first thing that’s going to come up is we know what’s going to come up. That’s the reality of it. That’s what I’m more worried about fixing.

“I want my wife, my daughter we all just want our lives back. I realize football is one thing. Now, I realize the amount of people we’ve affected, the amount of families we’ve affected.”

Keeping with a message his wife delivered, Ray Rice insisted that he and his wife aren’t involved in a pattern of abuse and that this was an aberration in their relationship.

“Domestic violence is a real issue in society,” Rice said. “We can take our one bad night that happened to be on video, but we are truly sorry for the people who’s truly going through it. It’s a real problem. I know when the time is right. I know my wife wants to help. I know I want to help.”

Rice insisted that this was a one-time incident and that he and his wife weren’t in a relationship where violence was commonplace.

“One thing you learn is we weren’t in a perfect relationship,” he said. “No relationship is perfect. We’ve had arguments but you talk about abuse that’s something that we know we’ve never crossed that path. Did we say things to each other that we want to take back at times? Yeah, we’ve crossed that line, but it never got to an altercation that went that far. That was very uncharacteristic. I take responsibility. That was very uncharacteristic.”

Janay Rice has received criticism for staying with her husband because of his status as a professional football player. Ray Rice denied that characterization of his wife.

“I knew my wife before I had anything,” said Rice, who first met Janay when they were teenagers. “She knows where I’m from. We both know where we came from. To be honest with you, she’s very independent. My wife could survive in this world without me. She could survive in this world in society without me.

“She could have done it on her own. The one thing I want people to understand is that she sacrificed her well-being for me and now the roles a little bit reversed. I’m sacrificing my well-being for her. If I never play football again, I will be honest with you, I would definitely sacrifice more so she can have a better future.”

At that point, Janay Rice said: “I know he wants to play football, but regardless I know he’ll support me in anything I want to do. If he doesn’t play football again, maybe I’ll step in and I’ll be the provider.”

At the start of the interview, Ray Rice said the entire situation has brought him closer to his family.

“For me, it’s definitely been a coming together for all of us,” he said. “Me and my wife my mother and my father, my relationship with my father is something that I cherish. It’s something I didn’t have growing up. I’m just blessed to be in this family.”

Rice and his wife have been in counseling since the incident last winter, and he was asked what that experience has done for him as a person.

“Counseling, I’ll be honest, what my counselor basically did is rip me apart and build me back together,” Rice said. “I couldn’t resist it. That was the thing. I was able to let somebody else in and literally tear me down. There was so much you didn’t know about yourself. You grow up and you think you know it all.

“I had a ceiling over my head. I was a professional athlete. That ceiling, you sometimes put yourself in a place and you don’t really understand where you’re going, but somebody else tells you that’s not reality.”

AFP Photo/Andy Lyons

Ray Rice Suspension Overturned

Los Angeles (AFP) – Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was suspended indefinitely earlier this year for domestic violence, won his appeal Friday, meaning he could return to the National Football League.

Rice — who was cut by the Ravens — is now a free agent, and eligible to play if another team signs him, his lawyer Peter Ginsberg told USA Today.

The 27-year-old Rice had been sacked by the Ravens and kicked out of the NFL indefinitely in September after the emergence of video showing him punching his now-wife Janay Palmer unconscious in a casino elevator in February.

A former federal judge, Barbara Jones, presided over the appeal hearing earlier this month in New York as an arbitrator appointed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Rice, who helped the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in 2013, was initially suspended for two games when a first video of the incident surfaced.

But a second video, showed him punching Palmer in the head, sparked a nationwide furor and prompted the Ravens to sack Rice and the NFL to ban him indefinitely.

Many had criticized Goodell for his handling of the case, saying the initial two-game suspension was too lenient.

The Rice case is one of several violent off-field incidents that have roiled the hugely popular and lucrative NFL, sparking criticism from fans, sponsors and even U.S. lawmakers.

AFP Photo/Andy Lyons