What is most disturbing about the emergence Monday of a video showing former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice punching out his future wife in an Atlantic City elevator in February is what it says about society’s willingness to kid itself about — and look away from — domestic violence.

What had taken place inside the elevator already had been evident from an earlier video, which showed Rice dragging the limp body of the woman, Janay Palmer, from the elevator. But that seemed of little concern to Baltimore’s NFL team, which stood by Rice and even suggested that Palmer might share responsibility for what happened. Fans rewarded him with cheers and standing ovations. The National Football League gave Rice a slap on the wrist (although, to its credit, it later admitted its leniency had been a mistake and put in place tougher rules).

All of this making allowances for Rice suddenly ended Monday with the release of the stomach-churning video of the actual punch. Within hours of the video being posted on TMZ.com, the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and cut him loose, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. The time for excuses and looking the other way was over; never mind the hypocrisy of their earlier acceptance of Rice.

Domestic violence is a fact of life for too many people. And too often their suffering is compounded by a tendency by outsiders to disbelieve them, belittle the harm or try to explain it away.

There are lessons to be learned from what happened in that elevator, and not just for the NFL. Namely: This is what domestic violence looks like, and you shouldn’t need a video to believe it, be disgusted by it and refuse to tolerate it.

Editorial by The Washington Post

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