"It's horrible to watch:" But can the Ray Rice video have a positive effect when it comes to domestic violence?

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Fallout over video captured in an elevator: The Baltimore Ravens have terminated its contract with running back Ray Rice, and the NFL has suspended him indefinitely. This, after TMZ Sports released video that shows Rice inside an elevator, hitting his now wife -- knocking her unconscious.

"What happened that night is something that should have never happened, and like I said, I have to pay for that for the rest of my life," Rice said.

The incident happened on February 15th in an elevator, inside an Atlantic City casino.

We do want to warn you -- the video is graphic, and may be disturbing to some viewers.

While the video shows a violent incident, there is hope that it can bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence, and encourage victims to get help.

"I think it's horrible to watch. I think if you're a victim, it just re-traumatizes it. When you knock someone out with one punch, that's serious violence. We should all be reluctant to trivialize that," Carmen Pitre, the executive director of the Sojourner Family Peace Center said.

The Sojourner Family Peace Center's mission is to transform lives impacted by domestic violence -- working to ensure the safety of victims of family violence, and provide a pathway out of violence for both victims and abusers.

The Sojourner Family Peace Center is the largest nonprofit provider of domestic violence prevention and intervention services in Wisconsin.

Pitre says she's discouraged by comments that seem to trivialize what happened to Ray Rice's now wife as the video continued to be played nationally -- particularly a comment on Fox and Friends: "The real lesson here is take the stairs."

"By saying 'I think the lesson is you should take the stairs,' again it puts the focus on her. It's not about what she did or didn't do -- or taking the stairs or not getting in the elevator with him. It's about really not joking away the real issue," Pitre said.

Despite the graphic nature of the video and the incident, Pitre says she does see a positive effect.

"It brings the conversation to the public square. It brings the issue back into public discourse. I think that's important," Pitre said.

Pitre says she hopes that now, the conversation shifts, to focus on the prevention of these domestic violence incidents through education.

"We need to prevent violence before it happens. It's easier to help a child understand how to not use violence or an adolescent or even a young person how to not use violence," Pitre said.

Because Rice was a high-profile football player in the NFL, Pitre says she sees this incident as an interesting opportunity for more people to get involved in the domestic violence conversation.

"I'm glad that we're talking about it. I do think it's getting better. But at the same time that it's getting better, it shines a light on how much more we have to do," Pitre said.


The City of Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault has issued this statement:

“The video recently released showing former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice viciously striking his then-fiancee inside an elevator is a scene that is sadly familiar to women across the country. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault each year by an intimate partner.

Although the NFL should be commended for its tough new standards address domestic violence by its players, we urge Commissioner Goodell as well as team owners and players to use their substantial influence to change a culture within their own ranks and help to break the cycle of domestic violence in homes across America.

Milwaukee offers quality and confidential resources for adults and youth affected by domestic violence. Victims, family members, batterers and the community at large can get help identifying support by calling the 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (414) 933-2722.

A listing of resources is also available through the Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault’s “You Are Not Alone” brochure, which is available in English, Spanish and Hmong. The brochure and other support information are available here, and atwww.milwaukee.gov/staysafe.”

In April, Gov. Scott Walker signed into law three bills that offers new protections for victims of domestic abuse.

The first puts in place a monitoring procedure to force abusers under injunctions to surrender their firearms.

The second puts “stalking” in the definition of domestic abuse.

The third creates better linkages between law enforcement and victim services providers — which will help officers give victims needed resource information.

Milwaukee’s Sojourner Family Peace Center helps thousands victims of domestic abuse every year.

The Sojourner Family Peace Center is the largest non-profit provider of domestic violence prevention and intervention services in Wisconsin.

Sojourner provides an array of support aimed at helping families affected by domestic violence to achieve safety, justice and well-being.

On its website, the Sojourner Family Peace Center says its primary goals are to ensure the safety of victims of family violence, and provide a pathway out of violence for victims and abusers through opportunities to make positive and lasting changes for themselves and their children.

CLICK HERE for a Sojourner Family Peace Center brochure

CLICK HERE to visit the Sojourner Family Peace Center’s website.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Milwaukee Women’s Center.

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