Service of Forgiveness

September 15th, 2014

Categories: Forgiveness


Yesterday on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” substitute host Martha Raddatz acknowledged that the Ray Rice domestic violence case brought the topic of abuse out in the open. Wasn’t everyone aware of it before?

Co-hosts Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and Deacon Kevin McCormack, on their WABC Radio program “Religion on the Line” on Sunday, also covered the topic. The discussion started with Rice, who knocked out his then fiancée, [wife now], and dragged her out of an elevator, and moved to the impact on others of how such a high profile case is treated.

Their conversation took a twist. 

The Deacon wanted to know how much an abuser had to do to make things right and the Rabbi said being banned from football, starting to attend domestic violence classes and joining a church wasn’t enough. The Rabbi pointed out that thieves get bigger punishments than Rice did.

The Deacon asked what the advantage is to a family if the bread winner loses his ability to support it. He was concerned that a spouse might not report an abusive partner for fear of jeopardizing the family’s livelihood which is what was done to the football player. The Rabbi responded that those in jail face this outcome. The Deacon asked “Doesn’t Rice’s wife have something to say?”

After a commercial break the Deacon said that he’d heard from his wife and listeners who vociferously disagreed with him. At the end of the program the co-hosts discussed forgiveness.

Why does it take celebrity involvement to give credence to a topic such as abuse? Do you think that an abused man or woman would be fearful of reporting the situation because of anticipated loss of family income? What role does forgiveness play in horrific acts like this?

domestic violence

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8 Responses to “Service of Forgiveness”

  1. Ginny Pulos Said:

    People are so involved with the money aspect, and it is huge for the family, because by the time something like this comes to light, the woman has not only been repeatedly physically abused, she’s been mentally and emotionally tortured as well. Her self worth is distorted by the fear, anxiety, exhaustion and pain of the situation. And, before you think that you would just walk away, walk in an abused person’s shoes for a week. See how you feel then.

    She feels like nothing, has nothing, doesn’t think she deserves anything, thinks she did something wrong, and, if only she tries harder it will all stop, tries to keep the family calm and together, etc. This is a violent crime. When women try to leave their abuser often becomes so enraged, and is so used to getting away with his abuse, that he thinks nothing will stop him and that as nothing has happened to him before, he thinks in his delusional mind that nothing will happen to him now if he kills her.

    Those of you who ask why the wife hasn’t spoken up. Think about how afraid she may be, how threatened she may be, how stuck she may be before you condemn her.

    Forgive AFTER you get away, but NEVER FORGET.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Your poignant, impassioned comment gave me goose bumps. Clearly money is not in the abused person’s line of vision because with such fear, how can the victim think straight or about practical matters?

    And such abuse isn’t just by men of women; it is of the elderly and of children and it happens in gay relationships as well.

    I was surprised that some media referred to it as something hidden that needed to be brought out in public. The victims may try to hide or deny it but the frightening situation has been covered for a long time by popular TV programs such as Law & Order, in newspapers, magazines and books.

  3. Hank Goldman Said:

    I am so much in a daze about all this—
    OF COURSE its wrong to abuse ANYONE —at any time! Football player, or not.
    But then— we see ISIS beheading people, PURPOSELY, in front of a video camera—-
    They are NOT at all related crimes, but, My God— how much can we do? Or take?
    Oh, and then, as we browse thru the ‘ads’ for Western BEAUTY, and STYLE, and spending money to try to be in the UPPER Class….
    it all begins to seem like we HUMANS are truly….. Nuts!?!
    I start to question: What really IS important??

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I think that there is a connection between the abuses you list…whether it’s ISIS cutting off the heads of innocents or a husband or wife abusing a spouse, child, elderly parent………I fear that the less we speak with one another, the more we communicate through inanimate objects like keyboards, using emoticons instead of words, it may get worse. When some can’t express anger, they resort to brutality.

    As for equating beauty with expensive things, you bring back a memory of a visit I made to Ethiopia many years ago. In Addis Ababa there was poverty, people walking the city streets barefoot and something else: The women were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Fashion and $4,000 handbags had nothing to do with this impression—they weren’t in the picture.

  5. JPM Said:

    You make an extremely powerful point. Is there ever a situation in which forgiveness is not appropriate?

    The president of bank for which I once worked, had served in the Pacific for three years during World War II. He quietly let it be known that he did not wish to be present at either business or social meetings involving the bank’s Japanese clients. Nothing was ever put in writing, but we all made sure that no Japanese customers ever came near him, or, to the extent possible, were ever even discussed in his presence. (I knew this basically decent man fairly well, and somehow cannot hold this lack of forgiveness against him, anymore than I can blame Jews who prefer not to be around Germans.)

    Speaking of our culture of violence, I vividly recall the basic training sergeant who quite forcefully chastised me for not screaming “Kill, kill, kill.” loudly enough, or being sufficiently enthusiastic when I poked my rifle with a bayonet stuck on its end into a straw dummy. (It was a silly exercise, and I forgave him because he knew it and was only doing his job.)

    What about those Muslims who videotaping themselves beheading infidels? It seems to me that they are exercising out their religious beliefs with possibly even greater fervor than the Rabbi and the Deacon exercise theirs. (Don’t me give all that guff about Mohammedanism being a peace loving religion. It isn’t, anymore than is the Puritanism which led her friends and neighbors to hang my g.g.g.g.g.g.g. grandmother, Elizabeth Lord, as a witch in Hartford in 1680.)

    I’m sorry, but I don’t have an answer for you.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Time has helped me get over things that hurt although I’ve been fortunate that I’ve not been a victim of domestic violence nor have I been to war and had my psyche twisted by either horrific circumstance.

    Had I been related to your ancestor and lived when she did, wouldn’t I have been devastated by her murder? Certainly.

    Brutality, picking on someone weaker, disrespect, out of control anger, making someone feel they have lost control are all related topics. I find forgiving certain people who direct even the light versions of any of these actions extremely difficult.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Forgiveness is up to the individual, and not the public. Blatantly unforgivable is the seemingly never ending publicity given the Rice incident. It doesn’t help matters any, and won’t stop the next bully/drunk or whoever to beat up on family members.

    What is mystifying is that the battered fiancée went on to marry this jerk, rather than joining the closest Karate class and learning to return in kind. Some forgive, others fight back. It’s a matter of personality, little more.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I take to heart what Ginny Pulos wrote. The toughest nut can be worn down and battered into submission and fear. It’s what torture is about and what bullies thrive on.

    What baffles me about the coverage of Rice is that some of the media is treating domestic violence as new, that they are doing a social service to uncover it. I can’t believe that the public is ignorant of these destructive relationships.

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