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Janay Rice defends her husband, suspended NFL running back Ray Rice

Janay Rice, the wife of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, spoke out for the first time after video was released showing him violently punching her.

In an emotional post via her Instagram account she defended her husband and criticized the media attention surrounding the story.

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“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted [opinions] from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret everyday is a horrible thing.

“To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! 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!”

The message came one day after TMZ posted disturbing video showing Rice punching Janay, who was then his fiancée, in an elevator at an Atlantic City hotel last February.

The Associated Press reported it had viewed a higher-quality and slightly longer version of the video which shows Rice and his wife shouting obscenities at each other before he delivers a knockout punch. He then drags her unconscious body out of the elevator where he is met by hotel staff. One of them can be heard saying “she’s drunk, right?” followed by “no cops.”

WATCH: What the Ray Rice controversy could mean for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell faced sharp criticism for initially handing Rice a two-game suspension in late July, before indefinitely suspending the running back Monday.

The NFL originally said it hadn’t seen the latest video, and denied a report from TMZ that no one connected to the league had asked the hotel in Atlantic City for video from inside the elevator.

A statement from the NFL issued Tuesday said:

“Security for Atlantic City casinos is handled by the New Jersey State Police. Any videos related to an ongoing criminal investigation are held in the custody of the state police. As we said yesterday: We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator. That video was not made available to us.”

WATCH: Ravens coach comments on decision to cut Rice

READ MORE: Social media reacts to Ray Rice video, Ravens contract termination

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said the decision to let Rice go came after a meeting with Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome.

“It’s something we saw for the first time (Monday), all of us,” Harbaugh said. “It changed things, of course. It made things a little bit different.”

Backlash from the video has been widespread with both NFL players and the public criticizing the league and the Baltimore Ravens for their handling of the case.

The Ravens began scrubbing the name of Ray Rice from the organization by offering an exchange program for the running back’s jerseys. The NFL shop also removed all Rice jerseys from its online store.

Janay married Ray Rice in the weeks following the elevator incident, for which the six-year veteran was subsequently charged with aggravated assault.

Rice was offered a pretrial diversion program, which could lead to the charges being removed from his record upon successful completion of the program.

WATCH: NFL players react to Ray Rice video, suspension

*With files from the Associated Press

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