Ray Rice video prompts surge in abuse calls
September 15th, 2014
08:45 PM ET

Ray Rice video prompts surge in abuse calls

The video showing Ray Rice punch his now-wife Janay has sparked a pivotal moment for domestic violence in America. Janay Rice is one of 12 million victims of domestic abuse in this country every year.

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While that video is horrifying to many, it is also giving abuse victims around the country the courage to come forward. According to the National Domestic Abuse hotline, the number of calls from abuse victims has spiked 84 percent.

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"A lot of people probably said, I don't want be that," Brian Pinero of the National Domestic Violence hotline said. "I don't want to wind up in that situation."

The Women's Transitional Living Center, a shelter for domestic abuse victims in Orange County, California is just one center seeing an upswing in contact.

"So that first phone call no matter what your experiencing is the most difficult one," Gigi Tsantos, director of the Women's Transitional Living Center said.

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For domestic abuse victim Karine Zarate the Rice video was a terrible reminder of what she says she's been trying to forget for years.

"One of the first times was in an elevator. So when I saw that video of Ray Rice hitting his then fiance it just brought back all those memories," Zarate said.

"I don't know why when that door closed, my boyfriend at the time my ex husband thought that he could just push me against the wall and punch me in the face repeatedly," Zarate said. "Thank goodness I didn't go unconscious. It was just an absolute shock. This did not just happen to me."

At the time she did not file a police report, Instead of letting the Rice video send her back to a very dark place, the video prompted her to share her own story on Facebook for the first time, hoping would somehow help others.

"It was the easiest way for me to say what I have to say and like it or not if it helps on to ten to 100 women out there or more and that's why I put it out there."

Like Janay Rice, Zarate went on to marry her then boyfriend, even having three children with him. She says the abuse subsided, but then returned with a vengeance.

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Zarate says she stayed until the day she came to find her husband's hand print on her child's face. However police never charged him for child abuse.

"When I came home I saw a mark on my daughter's face. I immediate asked, I said what happened? And he said she wouldn't stop screaming and that was the moment I grabbed my camera and I took a picture that will always haunt me," Zarate said.

That day she says social media came to her rescue as her husband attacked her trying to get her phone. She managed to send out a tweet for help.

"The tweet that I sent out was help he's hitting me again and that's all I said. And one of my girlfriends came to my house," Zarate said.

Police arrived, Zarate filed a report and obtained a restraining order. After 8-months Zarate agreed to lift the restraining order because her husband completed his court order counseling.

The state dropped the criminal battery charge and he pled guilty to a much lesser charge of disturbing the peace. Zarate filed for divorce and is now living happily with her children. Her husband has visitation rights.

Zarate says she knows how hard it is to make that first call for help and she hopes that the Rice domestic abuse video will help other victims come forward and stop the abuse.


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