Dear Mrs. Rice….
Please, allow me to begin by saying, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that this is happening to you. You do not deserve this, you are not alone, and this is not your fault.
I cannot begin to imagine how it must feel to be you right now. Everyone’s journey is different. The paths we travel vary. Even in my experience working at A Woman’s Place, while threads from stories may sound similar and patterns sometime rise through the murky chaos, there is no one story. Your story is uniquely yours. And now you are at the center of this very public nightmare – almost more center than your husband even is at this point. Again, I hope you know that you do not deserve this, you are not alone, and none of this is your fault.
Ironically, I wrote something last week asking my readers, “What would you do?” At the time, I asked what they would do with the $5.8 billion that domestic violence costs each year. Now, just a week later, one can barely hear over the cacophony of voices rising up to assert what they would do if they were in your shoes. They don’t know. Nobody does. Nobody knows until they are in that exact same pair of shoes and, again, they are unique to you. I keep hoping you know that you do not deserve this, you are not alone, and none of this is your fault.
I choked with overwhelming fear for you when the news stories began. I had the opportunity, in my professional role, to read the letter Goodell wrote last month. I even chatted with a friend about it, discussing concerns about how unsavory types might attempt to take advantage of young, vulnerable players. I reminded this friend of the 1 in 3 women, 1 in 4 men, and 1 in 3 teens who are victimized. I reminded him of the business that is sports and assured him that the NFL would be fine. When I heard the news stories, I choked with overwhelming fear for you and desperately tried to remember whether or not that letter said anything about taking the time to safety plan with you before suspending your husband indefinitely. I hope they did, as much as I hope that you know you do not deserve this, you are not alone, and none of this is your fault.
How is your husband? I know you love him. I know that none of this is good for him. And dear Rayven. She is just an innocent caught in the crosshairs of destructive behaviors from which we wish we could protect our children. You love them both and they will both need care and support. They need help. There are resources out there that can help your husband whom you love. When he is ready, there is help. You won’t be able to do it for him – I hope you know that. And I hope you know you do not deserve this, you are not alone, and none of this is your fault.
What would I do? I honestly don’t know. I would love to believe that I would never be in that position. We all want to be immune. I know that’s not true. I found myself in situations that I would never have fathomed, trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. Life is complicated – even more so when it comes to the people we love. I do know, and have seen it proven more times than I can to recollect, that boldly and defiantly or even sheepishly and secretly, leaving can be the most dangerous thing you do. Please, keep yourself safe. You do not deserve this, you are not alone, and none of this is your fault.
I’ve gone on too long and run the risk of becoming part of that cacophony of voices. Please, pardon any intrusion on my part. I just felt compelled to say that I am very sorry. You do not deserve this, you are not alone, and none of this is your fault.
Call when you are ready.
Ifeoma U. Aduba
Executive Director, A Woman’s Place
About the Author: Ifeoma U. Aduba is executive director of A Woman’s Place, the only domestic violence community benefit organization serving Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She has more than 15 years of professional experience within the community benefit sector, is an avid volunteer, has two beautiful daughters, and finds time to run five days a week. Ifeoma blogs weekly for A Woman’s Place. This blog post was originally published on that website on September 11, 2014.