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After Ray Rice Video, Twitter Takes a Stand With #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft

Ravens running back Ray Rice is planning to address the media at 3 p.m. Friday for the first time since he was charged with knocking
Kenneth K. Lam—Baltimore Sun/MCT/Getty Images Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, and his wife Janay made statements to the news media regarding his assault charge for knocking her unconscious in a New Jersey casino, on May 5, 2014, at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Md.

Twin hashtags go viral, leading to widespread public sharing about domestic violence

The recently released video of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice punching his then fiancée and current wife Janay in an Atlantic City elevator, then dragging her out unconscious, prompted many red flags — about the NFL’s handling of the incident, about the Ravens’ ill-advised defense of their player and about how domestic violence is handled in general.

But one of the main questions doing the rounds was directed at Janay Rice (formerly Janay Palmer) was why she married him in spite of the abusive relationship. Well, Twitter provided the answer, with the hashtag #WhyIStayed.

The hashtag was created by writer Beverly Gooden, who was physically abused by her former husband for over a year. In a post on her website, Gooden explains that it’s not always that simple. “Leaving was a process, not an event,” she writes. “And sometimes it takes awhile to navigate through that process.” Gooden also expressed the hope that the hashtag will help people “find a voice, find love, find compassion, and find hope.”

And the responses were overwhelming. Twitter users even took the conversation a step further, responding with the hashtags #WhyILeft and #WhenILeft sharing the moments when they finally decided they had had enough.

The stories of abuse weren’t restricted to women, either.

Thanks to Twitter, it doesn’t look like this conversation is going to die down anytime soon.

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