BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Taking action. The NFL announces new, tougher penalties for domestic violence offenders. It follows the controversial punishment for the Ravens’ Ray Rice.

As Jessica Kartalija reports, the team is tackling the issue with the help of a local group.

Ravens president Dick Cass reached out to the House of Ruth Maryland, wanting to learn more about the organization, intimate partner violence and how the team can get involved.

What happened inside an Atlantic City casino in February led to the controversial suspension of Ravens running back Ray Rice.

Now comes tougher NFL penalties for offenders. Domestic and violent assault offenses will result in a six-game suspension for first-time offenders and a lifetime ban for a second offense.

The House of Ruth Maryland, one of the nation’s leading intimate partner violence centers, is now teaming up with the Ravens.

“All along, we were hopeful that the Ravens would take this opportunity to step forward and lead the conversation around the fact that this is a large issue and should be addressed in our entire community,” said Sandi Timmins, executive director of the House of Ruth.

Over the next three years, the Ravens will donate $600,000 to the House of Ruth–money going directly to victim services.

The team will also participate in educational programs and workshops and abuse intervention programs aiming to increase victim safety, while holding abusers accountable. Players will also participate in numerous events in a new campaign called “Man Up.”

“Intimate partner violence is not just a women’s issue,” Timmins said. “In truth, it’s men who can make a difference. It’s men who can hold themselves accountable to having healthy relationships and to holding each other accountable to having healthy relationships.”

In a statement, Ravens president Dick Cass says: “The Ravens recognize the outstanding service the House of Ruth Maryland provides to our community and we want to help increase its influence.”

Rice and his now wife also reached out to Sandi Timmins at the House of Ruth Maryland. They had contributed to the organization before and say they’d like to get involved now.

One in four women will experience intimate partner violence at some point in her lifetime.

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