It's personal. The Today show's Tamron Hall spoke with Vice President Joe Biden about domestic violence this week, after the scandal involving NFL player Ray Rice and his wife Janay dominated headlines. For Hall, the issue hits close to home.
"It's personal for millions of families, including my own," Hall, 43, said in a segment for NBC News on Tuesday, Sept. 9. "In 2004, my own sister was found dead in her home. While no one was ever brought to justice, police told my family, all signs pointed to domestic violence. Sadly, she is not alone."
Footage of the Baltimore Ravens' star running back Rice, knocking his then-fiancee Janay Rice unconscious in an elevator, surfaced and incited backlash — particularly against the NFL — this week. The aftermath of the scandal led to the Ravens terminating Rice's contract and the NFL suspending him indefinitely.
"Whether it was for the right reason, spontaneous enough or not, [the NFL] had no choice," said Biden, who introduced the Violence Against Women Act nearly twenty years ago. "Now, you can argue they should have done it sooner — they didn't want it. Whatever the reason is, it's happening."
The cause of Rice's suspension even solicited reaction from the White House on Monday, Sept. 8. "The President is the father of two daughters. And like any American, he believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilized society," Barack Obama said in a statement. "Hitting a woman is not something a real man does, and that's true whether or not an act of violence happens in the public eye, or, far too often, behind closed doors. Stopping domestic violence is something that's bigger than football – and all of us have a responsibility to put a stop to it."
Janay Rice also addressed the scandal via Instagram on Tuesday, though in a very different manner. "THIS IS OUR LIFE!" she wrote. "What don't you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you've succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!"
Biden elaborated to Hall: "It's never, never, never the woman's fault. No man has the right to raise a hand to the woman… [domestic violence] is the most vicious form of violence there is."
Hall first shared her sister's story on the Today show last month. In an extended post on the show's website introducing her part in the team's Shine a Light project, Hall said she grappled with guilt in the years following her sister's death.
"I have felt guilty for so long that I didn’t do more to help my sister," Hall wrote. "My father, who died soon after my sister, of what my mother believes was a broken heart, said of his children that I was the child who 'was always for right.' Yet I have felt so 'wrong' since her death."
For help with domestic violence issues, call The National Domestic Violence at 1-800-799-7233.
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