Domestic Abuse: Why the #WhyIStayed, #WhyILeft Hashtags are Important

Negative violence against women sign.

We’ve all likely seen–or at the very least heard of–the video of Ray Rice, the indefinitely suspended professional football player, punching his then girlfriend, now fiancé, Janay Rice, in the face.

The video is incredibly upsetting for many reasons. First, we’re witnessing domestic abuse, which is terrible and inexcusable. Second, after the viewing the tape, the NFL decided to only suspend Rice for a few games. He punched a woman in the face and was given a less harsh punishment than players caught with marijuana.

Now, since the full video has been released to the press, the NFL has backtracked and suspended Rice indefinitely and the Ravens cut him from the team. While it’s all well and good that the NFL eventually gave Rice a more damning penalty, its original response was totally gross and proves that the organization could give a flip about women and their safety.

And since the tape has come out, it appears that more people than just the NFL are in the woman hating, victim blaming game. The news has been filled with people saying the following incredibly stupid things:

“Well, she shouldn’t have…”

“If you hit a man, expect to get hit.”

“What did she expect?”

“Why the hell did she stay?”

“She shouldn’t leave because of her family.”

Let’s just say this up front: It’s never the victim’s fault. Never. Case closed. And the whole, “why did she stay,” “she can’t leave,” discussions are often tainted by people’s uneducated thoughts and opinions. Enter the #WhyIStayed and the #WhyILeft hashtags. These hashtags are helping people explain to the public the deep reasons why some women decide to stay in an abuseive relationship, and why some women decide to go.

It’s never easy for a victim of domestic violence to leave an abusive relationship. Often times, women have no financial resources to start over. Also: If a woman leaves, and her abuser finds her, she could be in even more danger.

Luckily, this horrible video and some of the ugly discussions are sparking some intelligent conversations. Women are talking about why they stayed and why they left, and also are discussing why we – the public – can never, ever blame a woman who is beaten.


“How to Know You Hate Women,” Feministing

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Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.