Janay Rice, the wife of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, said on NBC's "Today" show Monday that her husband hit her only once -- in the infamous Atlantic City elevator footage -- has never hit her again, and that she felt victimized by the national attention.
Flanked by her mother, Candy Palmer, Rice told Matt Lauer that she was troubled by the first elevator footage, which showed Ray walking away from her crumpled body, and though she didn't justify his actions, said that the two were highly intoxicated and that Ray was "terrified" and "in such shock." She said she refused to watch the second video, which shows Ray knocking his wife into the side of the elevator, rendering her unconscious.
When asked whether her husband had hit her before, both Rice and Palmer answered "no."
"Not at all," Rice said. "Ray knows me. And there's no way ... I'm not going to sit there in silence and let something happen to me, and God forbid, in front of my child, just let it happen? There's no way."
The couple married shortly after the incident and have a 2-year-old girl.
Rice also said the Ravens gave her a "general script" for the May 23 press conference apology she issued after the video was released. Rice, however, said she would not have apologized for her role in the incident if the Ravens hadn't asked her to.
"I didn't think it was completely wrong for me to apologize, because at the end of the day I got arrested, too, so I did something wrong, too," Rice said.
Then, Rice said, the national floodgates opened -- making her a lightning rod for criticism and the unwilling face of domestic violence. Though Rice said she understood the reaction to the apology, she and her mother did not appreciate the scrutiny that followed.
"It's been the hardest thing ever ... to watch my daughter being trashed and see what's happened to her on national television," Palmer said. "I totally understand how people look at that and think that's what she is [a domestic violence victim], but I know her, and she's not."
Added Rice: "People forget that people are human, everyone makes mistakes ... you'd think we lived in a country of people that never made mistakes, that have never sinned."
The Rices were arrested on simple assault charges, but Janay's charges were later dropped. Ray was indicted on aggravated assault charges but later entered a pretrial intervention program. Janay told Lauer that Ray "apologized to me more than once, countless amount of times."
The Ravens released Rice after the second video surfaced, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely on Sept. 8. Rice, however, won his appeal last Friday against the NFL and has been reinstated, making him eligible to resume his pro football career.
Janay said she felt that the Ravens' treatment of Rice was unfair. It was those sentiments that led to her Sept. 9 statement, when she lambasted the media for causing her family further pain. That statement, she said, provided release.
"I was so angry and hurt, seeing the man that I loved have everything ripped up from under him that made me angry," she said. "[Losing] the support system we had from the Ravens made me angry ... we had to pick up and move our child and it hurt."
The Ravens declined to comment on the "Today" interview. The NFL did not respond to a request for comment.
The second part of the "Today" show interview will air Tuesday, with Ray expected to be part of the segment.
With Bob Glauber