Janay Rice insists she doesn’t remember what she and her then fiancée Ray Rice were arguing about on the night he struck her back in August, leading to his NFL suspension.

In an exclusive interview, Rice also tells ESPN she slapped her now husband first, but only after he spit at her after she reached for his cellphone. Rice granted ESPN the interview earlier this month and sports network agreed not to air it until a judge had ruled in Ray Rice’s appeal of his indefinite suspension.

“As we were arguing, he was on his phone and not looking at me,” said Janay Rice. “I went to reach for his phone, and when he grabbed it back, he spit at me and I slapped him. I know some people disagreed with me publicly apologizing. I’m not saying that what Ray did wasn’t wrong. But at the same time, who am I to put my hands on somebody?”

After initially drawing a two-game suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Rice’s banishment was upgraded to indefinitely after video of him knocking his now wife unconscious in an Atlantic City hotel elevator was made public. “I asked him how he felt when he saw that I was unconscious,” said Janay Rice. “He told me he was in shock. I asked him what happened when we got out of the elevator. He told me he was terrified because security was there. I asked him how he felt seeing me like that. He said he was thinking, “What did I just do?” I didn’t watch the video again.”

Ultimately, the Baltimore Ravens also severed all ties with the veteran rusher, a move Janay Rice still admits somewhat shocked her. “I was extremely surprised and angry that the Ravens released him, because they know him,” she said. “They were our family, but I felt like the Ravens completely disregarded the past six years with him. Anytime the Ravens needed someone for a community event, Ray was their man.”

Janay Rice she and her husband are now trying to turn the nightmare experience into a learning lesson for all.

“If it took our situation becoming headline news to show domestic violence is happening in this country, that’s a positive,” she said.

[Photo Credit: Keith Allison]