The incident involving Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice has put a microscope on the issue of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is more prevalent than people like to think. Too many women have trained themselves to disguise their pain and outward marks. Hiding behind trembling smiles and polite conversation, many use creative methods to cover up abuse: makeup, strategically placed strands of hair, pretty scarves to hide ugly grips, sunglasses to hide black eyes.

Now, one cannot escape the topic. It is being discussed in the news, on social media and in everyday conversation. It all started when gossip celebrity website TMZ released video of Rice dragging his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, out of an elevator at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City. In March, he was indicted by a grand jury on third-degree aggravated assault charges and looking at three to five years in prison. Rice and Palmer eventually married.

The NFL initially suspended Rice for the first two games of the season, and criminal charges against him were dropped in exchange for court-supervised counseling. However, this month, TMZ released surveillance footage from inside the elevator, where Rice hits Palmer, resulting in her head striking the railing, rendering her unconscious.

Domestic Violence Help

  • Call 311 and ask for the Domestic Violence Hotline
  • New York City Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-621-HOPE
  • New York City Family Justice Cneters: Bronx, (718) 508-1222, Brooklyn, (718) 250-5111 and select 6, Manhattan, (212) 602-2800, Queens, (718) 575-4500
  • Staten Island Domestic Violence Response Team
  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911

The NFL has suspended Rice indefinitely, and his endorsements have been revoked. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has come under fire over his handling of the situation. An unnamed police source said the NFL had the full video of the incident before TMZ released it.

“We have a lot of people praying for us,” Rice said during a television interview. “I have to be there for [Janay] and my family right now and work through this.” Rice has since appealed the suspension.

Although domestic violence has long been an issue in the nation, crossing all racial and socioeconomic lines, the Rice situation has sparked the most recent discussion. According to the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, since 2010, New York City averaged 77 domestic violence homicides annually and more than 260,000 domestic-violence incid ents a year. Brooklyn and the Bronx experience a disproportionate number of domestic violence homicides and incidents.

Since Jan. 1, the OCDV has had 36,025 client visits to the Family Justice Centers. (12,212 new clients visit the Family Justice Centers.) Since 2001, adult females accounted for 79 percent (355 out of 447) of the intimate partner homicide victims. Almost half of the family related homicide victims from 2002 to 2012 were Black. Blacks accounted for 48 percent (381 of 789) of all victims during that time period.

“This is not a poor person issue,” said Rose Pierre-Louis, commissioner of OCDV. “Women are disproportionally impacted. There is a greater risk of homicide when the power of control is broken when they flee.” Pierre-Louis added that the crime of domestic violence is often unreported. Victims can suffer up to seven or eight incidents on average before reaching out for help.

Domestic violence in the immigrant community is especially troubling because victims are often threatened by their abuser with deportation if they go to the police, which is not true.

Family Justice Centers at district attorney’s offices in the city also provide services for victims of domestic violence. With several services, from counseling to housing, under one roof, Family Justice Centers provide a gateway for victims to restart their lives.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson is passionate about the issue of preventing and challenging domestic violence. He speaks proudly of the Family Justice Center on the 15th floor of his Downtown Brooklyn office: “I want people to know that this DA says that we simply cannot tolerate domestic violence, whether it is committed by a star NFL player or the neighbor next door.”

The center assists both victims of domestic violence and women who need assistance to prevent themselves from becoming victims.

“People need help but don’t get it because the man might be their children’s father, they need a place to live or they stay for financial reasons,” said Wanda Lucibello, executive director of the Brooklyn Family Justice Center. “By working together and providing a whole host of support for domestic violence victims, we are able to expand a small toolbox the prosecutor’s office has so victims can benefit.”

“We want people to know that women don’t have to take the day off and run around the city to several different agencies; everything is here on one floor,” said Thompson. “We have resources. Women can come in, and victims talk to prosectors, get help getting orders of protection, get legal representation with regards to custody and visitation. The Family Justice Center also gives women access to social services and help in obtaining long-term services, and meet with clergy. Everything is all under one roof on the 15th floor.”

Having already overturned long-term convictions of eight wrongfully prosecuted men in the past nine months, Thompson, who took over from the 23-year incumbent Charles Hynes, told the AmNews that change for the good is on the way.

“Brooklyn had the first center of this kind, opening in 2005, and we want to promote the fact that the Family Justice Center is here,” he said. “We have been going out to all different communities because we want women to know. We want to help the victims but also prevent it in the first place. We are going out to the Asian and Russian communities and wherever to talk to women who may be trapped in this cycle of violence.”

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, written by then United States Sen. Joe Biden and signed into law in 1994. It expanded the number of shelters and rape crisis centers across America and established a national hotline. The law also provided specialized training to law enforcement, helping them better understand the unique challenges victims face.

The Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry of Brooklyn’s House of the Lord Church held a press conference Wednesday to address the Rice incident, citing that the focus has been too much on the punishment and not on the action.

“I have been concerned about the Ray and Janay Rice episode,” Daughtry said. “It seems to me that the total concentration has been upon punishment. While I believe punishment is in order, but from what I’ve seen, there’s no offer of redemption. I believe that it is our role as people of faith to offer forgiveness and redemption.”

Speaking with his wife, the Rev. Dr. Karen Daughtry, by his side, the activist minister said, “My wife and I have been married for 52 years. During that time, we have had arguments so heated that each one of us could have lost control, but thank God, by God’s grace, restraint held fast.”

Daughtry added that Rice ultimately did what the law told him to do about the issue by engaging in counseling and anger management. Rice is also part of the state’s Community Program for First Offenders. The only other factor left in the application of redemption, according to Daughtry, is restitution.

“It must be understood that domestic violence must never be tolerated,” said former City Councilman Charles Barron. “We must confront it in every community we see it. It is hidden behind closed doors in every community across this city and beyond. We must help the victims and root out these abusers.”

Referencing the Ray and Janay Rice case, and Goodell’s much derided response to the violent video, Dr. Angela Moses, PhD, a therapist who provides crises counseling, told the AmNews that although she had empathy for Janay, “We spend most of our concerns on the victims, but the truth of the matter is someone must work diligently with these abusive personalities, or the vicious cycles will continue.

“Another layer of complexity added to the discussion is the opinion that Janay Rice is equally guilty and that perhaps she should remain in what appears to be a violent relationship for the sake of her family. Many women suffer from abuse by their male partners. In addition, Janay Rice has a daughter with her husband, and like many victims of domestic violence, she has publicly stated that she does not want to break up her child’s family.”

Moses, the author of “The Joy of Single Parenting,” which speaks to her hard journey raising her now Ivy League daughters by herself, continued, “I’m not judging. I’m just discussing. Perhaps we can use Janay Rice’s unfortunate situation to open up a discussion of battered women who remain in unhealthy and dangerous family units for their children. No one deserves the kind of abuse that results in being knocked unconscious in a public space. And still, some women, like Janay Rice, have many reasons to believe they should take this treatment and remain in the family, albeit dysfunctional, unit.

“I am certainly not judging Janay. We love who we love. First, we should recognize that every case of domestic violence is individual. Therefore, it is useful to acquire a professional assessment on the abused woman to determine the true reason for staying. Some women use the child as an excuse to stay. Mothers in this situation need an expert therapist or a wise older relative to talk to. There are probably some childhood issues that were never resolved, and one can become comfortable in their internalized struggle. It is possible that a peaceful life makes this person uncomfortable.”

Referencing her book, Moses said, “The statement that drives my book is, ‘There is one thing worse than being alone; it’s being stuck with the wrong person, especially when raising children.’ My book talks about crises healing. If you are coming from an abusive or dysfunctional relationship that debilitated your ability to be a whole person, you will need to heal yourself fast in order to be an effective parent.  As a single parent, they may not be able to see or feel the joy in it, until the child is educated and self-sufficient. As a single parent, you are free to build a network of people to assist with the village concept.”

Moses offered that there are “resources for women with children who are wrestling with the decision to reach out for help. Every state has their own domestic violence shelters and centers. What is needed are good support groups, so that these women will know that they have options to carry out their wishes. Janay Rice is like many women in our families and our communities. The plight of the Black family cannot rest on her shoulders. Instead, women like Janay Rice should be supported and gently reminded that they, too, deserve peace.”

To that end, Moses will continue this discussion in a three-part series entitled “You Say You Love Me, How Could You Hurt Me?” Oct. 15 to Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Citadel Chapel, 101 Saratoga Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.