#WhyIStayed: A Voice For Victims Of Domestic Violence

Beverly Gooden discusses the social media movement surrounding #WhyIStayed.

After recent headlines about domestic violence surrounding the NFL and criticism of victim Janay Rice, wife of NFL star Ray Rice, author Beverly Gooden says she created the hashtag #WhyIStayed to help give a voice to victims of domestic violence who have stayed with their abusers.

Beverly recently appeared on Dr. Phil, where she explained, "The focus was on her and her actions, as opposed to him and his actions. … I wanted to defend all survivors of domestic violence."

Beverly discusses the social media movement that erupted out of #WhyIStayed.

Q: What has been the greatest impact you’ve seen from your hashtag?
People are changing their minds about the domestic violence conversation. People are starting to understand that it is not as simple as 1-2-3. I saw someone tweet that they’d never “thought of it this way,” meaning they never realized that there could be this many reasons why a woman would stay. That’s incredible. People are starting to stop, listen, and understand what women have been going through. That’s powerful!

Q: What impact has the hashtag had on your life?
The hashtag have given me strength in continuing to tell my own story. Having read a lot of the responses, the tie that binds all of us together is our willingness to be vulnerable. And in vulnerability we’ve found community. I think that is the power of shared experience; it not only gives a voice to the survivors, but it provides strength in numbers as well. I’m not alone, and the thousands of women sharing their stories are not alone.

Q: What’s the one thing you hope people could learn from the Ray Rice video and the conversation happening on social media?
I hope people learn that the abuser is solely responsible for the abuse. It is not the victim’s responsibility to prevent it or explain it. I hope we begin to really focus on the violent person and explore their actions, as opposed to interrogating victims. Our first question to a victim in the wake of violence should be, “What can I do to help you?”

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