20 years ago, Robin Givens was carried out of a hotel after being knocked unconscious by her ex-husband Mike Tyson. Givens, an actress and longtime anti-domestic violence activist says social media makes it a bit easier for abuse victims to be believed nowadays — it was impossible to miss the video of Ray Rice punching his partner Janay, after all.
Yesterday, Jezebel touched on the hard time black battered women often have because so many refuse to believe that their spouses or boyfriends could've possibly been abusive, convincing themselves they must've done something to deserve it. In a piece she wrote for Time, Givens notes that she's been in Janay's shoes.
... when I saw the second video of him actually punching Janay Rice unconscious, I thought, this is what happened to me. The only difference was that when I came to, a doorman was carrying me over his shoulder, out of my fiancé's apartment, and into a car. I remember what my ex-husband told me later, which was that I bounced off two walls and I then was out. At the time, I was engaged to him and living with my mother, but I didn't go home because I would have had to explain to her what happened. Instead I called a friend and went to her hotel room, but even then, I didn't say, "He hit me." I said, "He pushed me." It's even hard to admit it yourself. I was embarrassed.
Givens offered that it's not as easy to leave as some people — particularly those who've never been in abusive relationships — might think. There is a cycle of physical violence as well as mental abuse and manipulation where the victim can become the defender of the abuser, much like what Mrs. Rice exemplified in her Instagram post, championing the love she and her husband have for one another.
People ask why I didn't leave after the first time he hit me. But you feel such inner turmoil and confusion. You want it to be only one time. And for three days after that incident I did the right thing. I said: "Don't call me. I never want to see you again." But then you start taking his phone calls. Then he asks to see you in person, and you say yes to that. Then you have a big giant man crying like a baby on your lap and next thing you know, you're consoling him. You're the protector. One minute you're running from him, the next you're protecting him. And being a black woman you feel you want to protect your man. You think, the black man in America has it so difficult anyway, so now you're turning them in. It feels like the ultimate betrayal. And maybe Janay Rice is feeling a little of that, though I don't want to speak for her.
Givens stopped by The Today Show on Friday morning to talk more about the implications of Ray Rice knocking his wife unconscious on video, saying people can't ignore what's right in front of them and that might finally create change in such a testosterone-filled sport like football. The NFL can start with supporting Domestic Violence Awareness month, it's almost October!
Image via Today.