In the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, people have turned to victim blaming Rice’s wife, Janay Palmer, for being complicit in her own abuse by staying in the marriage. The questions of “why would you stay” and “why didn’t you just leave him” have been packing the twitter air waves, with the logic that we all shouldn’t feel as bad for her because she chose to stay in the marriage.
The truth is that domestic violence in relationships is significantly more complicated than simply staying or leaving. Abusers typically isolate their victims from their family and friends, take away their financial independence, and control every aspect of their lives. The Domestic Violence Intervention Program of Iowa reports that abused women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after they try to leave the relationship, and in the state of Iowa, 70% of women killed are killed at the hands of their abusers.
While it is easy for people outside of the spectrum of domestic violence to pass a judgement based on whether or not a victim could leave or not, victims don’t get to make that choice very easily. Survivors of domestic violence took to Twitter to help the world understand why they stayed in violent relationships, and the stories are heartbreaking, real, and give an insight into a common problem that is not too commonly understood. The hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft have become outlets for women to bravely tell their stories of abuse, and these tweets have already caused a great impact on how others view domestic violence.
I couldn't face the fact that I was a textbook statistic: if (step)daddy hurts you, so will hubby. #whyistayed
— Adrienne Airhart (@craydrienne) September 9, 2014
I was told marriage is forever. I didn’t want to be a failure #whyistayed
— Jessica Merrell (@jmillermerrell) September 9, 2014
because they consume your life.
& you feel alone.
& distant from everyone.
To the point that it becomes difficult to reach out.
— عـاليـة (@AliahKhaled) September 12, 2014
I thought domestic violence didn't happen to educated women with good jobs, so I pretended it wasn't happening to me. #WhyIStayed
— Em of Eatsalotown (@emilyjnyc) September 12, 2014
#whyistayed because eventually my self-esteem was so twisted that I genuinely believed I was in the relationship I deserved
— Nick (@nickmattos2) September 9, 2014
He threated to take my son, made me feel like I deserved it and made me feel ashamed it even happened #WhyIStayed
— Lavender Gooms (@5ft_Hurricane) September 8, 2014
If you are being abused or think you’re being abused, and you don’t have anyone to turn to, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is ready to be an open ear: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)