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Midstate counselors talk about latest twist in banned NFL star’s abuse case

Despite widespread outrage at the disturbing video of now-ex-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching and knocking cold the fiancee who has since married him, the jobs of domestic violence counselors won’t likely be made any easier.

Upsetting footage that on Monday began airing on news outlets of Rice lashing out was countered Tuesday by a statement his wife posted online. In the post, verified by The Baltimore Sun as being from Rice’s wife Janay’s Instagram account, she appeared to take his side.

One midstate domestic violence counselor said such statements in high profile cases can send women the wrong message that they can live with the abuse.

When word emerged a couple of years ago that star singer Rihanna was again seeing singer Chris Brown, who had pleaded guilty to assaulting her in 2009, Tamara Rodriguez, executive director of the Salvation Army Safe House in Warner Robins, said, “We were all shocked and amazed that Rihanna went back.

“That is very unsettling for those of us who work in this. ... While we’re trying to show them there are other ways of living, they’re looking at this like, ‘She’s living through it.’ It validates what they consider normalcy.”

Rice, 27, who was already serving a two-game suspension for the abusive February episode in a New Jersey casino elevator, was released from the team Monday. He was also, for now, banished from the NFL amid uproar over surveillance video of the assault that was published by the website TMZ.

In her Instagram post, Janay Rice wrote: “I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend.

“But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his (butt) for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.”

Martha Blue, who recently retired as director of the Division of Family and Children Services in Macon, spent 50 years at the agency.

“I have pleaded with women, ‘Please leave him alone; he’s gonna kill you.’ But they will go right back to him,” Blue said. “There are some women who just feel like they cannot make it without a man.”

“No matter,” said Rodriguez of the Warner Robins safe house, “what pain they have to go through.”

Speaking broadly about Janay Rice’s Instagram post, Rodriguez, who has worked with battered women for the past decade, said it sounds as if “she’s in protect mode.”

“She will go through a series of emotions. She is going to try to diminish the situation, all in hopes of ... trying to keep him level and not get to the next phase of ‘This is all your fault,’ ” Rodriguez said.

“Anything she can do to try to put herself in a situation where she is not at fault and not going to be the brunt of his next episode. The awful thing about that is she’s gonna try, she’s gonna try very hard, and the unfortunate part is that it may not work.”

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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