"PSA of the day ... If you spit in a man's face, you deserve to get knocked out. Man, woman or child. Period!"
This was a friend's Facebook status on the day the news broke that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his fiancee, Janay Palmer, had both been charged with simple assault after they were involved in a domestic dispute while visiting an Atlantic City casino over Valentine's Day weekend. Rumor had it that Palmer had spit on Rice, and Rice had reacted. To what degree he reacted was anyone's guess, at that time. Rice's lawyer initially—and in hindsight, bafflingly—described the event as a "very minor physical altercation," as if there were some way for a couple to lay hands on each other that wasn't bad.
Good ole TMZ came through with footage of the aftermath to that dispute. "Very minor?" Hardly. Grainy video showed Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee from the elevator and discarding her facedown on a carpeted hallway. He seems not to want to be bothered, and even more so when he is approached by hotel security. As the woman comes to, he drags her around some more, seemingly annoyed. The first thing I wondered is, what happened to her?
Police supposedly are in possession of a video that shows Rice allegedly delivering the blow that knocked his fiancee out cold.
I've been following this story for days to find out what happened to Palmer and how she's doing. No one seems to care much about her, despite us all being under the impression that her man—and father of her child—played Mike Tyson's Punch-Out on her and then dragged her across a dirty elevator floor and into a hallway as if she were trash. I mean, the man is a professional athlete. He cared so little that he couldn't even pick her up. The only update came from a Ravens spokesman, who said the couple "returned home together after being detained."
Really? Is that the best place for a woman who allegedly just got knocked out by her man? A woman doesn't just bounce back from that like nothing happened. Who is going to nurse her back to health and make sure she's OK? Him?!
In the aftermath, all the talk in the news was about whether Rice will get to keep his job with the Ravens and how much it will cost the team to let him go. Oh, and there were some who were minimizing the issue. The Baltimore Ravens' general manager called the allegations "concerning" and said it "doesn't look good." You think?
On social media, there were plenty of statements like those from my Facebook friend justifying why it's OK for a man to hit a woman or wondering what he said to get spit on, which in turn made him punch. Everyone was talking about this couple as though they were avatars, and someone else was in control of them and they were not responsible for their own actions.
It doesn't matter what he said. She shouldn't have spit on him. And while it's profoundly disrespectful, it's not an excuse to knock your fiancee out cold and drag her across a floor. What is this an excuse for, though? For this couple to part ways.
It seems unlikely that this is the first time the couple have been abusive toward each other, and may not even be the first time their fights have reached this level of violence. But by the time you're allegedly spitting on your partner in public and he allegedly knocks you unconscious, it's a clear sign it's time to call the relationship a wrap.
(Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of "A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life" and the upcoming "Don't Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love." Follow her on Twitter.)