Domestic violence has become a national hot topic in the wake of the shocking video of NFL player Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator, and now actress Robin Givens, who allegedly suffered spousal abuse from ex-husband Mike Tyson, is speaking out on the issue.
Appearing on The Today Show on Friday, Givens calls the Rice tape a “game-changer” if simply for the fact that the video takes the credibility issue off the table.
“It’s hard to be believed,” Givens said of her own experience and in talking to other domestic abuse victims. “Being believed is an issue.”
Rice was caught on camera hitting his now-wife Janay Palmer Rice across the face, knocking her out cold, and then dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator in Atlantic City in February. He has since been cut from the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
“Part of me didn’t want to get involved in this conversation, honestly,” Givens admitted, not wanting to speak for Janay. “It took my 20 year old son [to convince me].”
Givens also believes the issue of domestic violence has changed forever thanks to the video and social media. “This conversation will never be the same again,” she said. “You can’t hide it so much anymore. My experiences … if it had been on tape, then the conversation would have been very different.”
Janay has been the subject of some backlash and Givens said she is not surprised. “I’ve heard it all before,” she revealed. “I’ve heard ‘Well, what did you do? What did you say to him? Don’t do that.’ Why is it that the victimizer becomes the victim? Why is it that we want to protect these men? What is it about us as a society, what is it about us as women that we feel the need to protect them?”
The fact that this happened within the NFL, necessitating men taking part in the conversation, is a game-changer, Givens believes. “I’ve always believed that when men get involved in this conversation, not just women, when men say this is not cool, this is not acceptable — and the fact that it happened in this way, with football, such a manly thing — standing up and saying no way, this ain’t right, it stops here. That is a game-changer.”