Ever since the shocking video — depicting Ray Rice punching out then fiancée and now wife, Janay Rice — went viral a few days ago, victims of domestic violence have taken to Twitter to tell their own stories in 140 characters or less. They’ve been using the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft to illustrate just how complicated and dangerous it can be for victims to extricate themselves from these warped relationships.
“Since I left, my son and I have been homeless twice. #whyistayed,” Angie Jackson tweeted out to her 5,223 followers on Wednesday.
Molly Taylor posted a link to a photo of her and her adorable toddler daughter with her tweet: “#whyistayed I believed in making marriage work #whyileft I knew we deserved better.”
Such stories tug at the heartstrings and reveal devastating choices women face when trying to figure out which is scarier: leaving an abusive relationship or staying in one?
As of 11 a.m. this morning, #whyIstayed had been tweeted more than 108,000 times, according to BBC News. Perhaps, more sadly, #whyIleft was only tweeted 35,000 times. I’m hoping this doesn’t mean more women fall into the Janay Rice category than the Rihanna one? (The pop star left abusive boyfriend Chris Brown after a photo of her battered face was displayed five years ago on TMZ.com for all the world to see.)
To be sure, many people using these hashtags are simply weighing in with their own views on domestic violence.
Charlotte Alter sent out this wise tweet that was favorited nearly 500 times:
Federal health officials even weighed in with a tweet to the 241,000 followers of its healthfinder.gov twitter feed:
The link leads to steps victims can take to protect themselves from domestic violence:
• Trust your instincts
• Make a plan to stay safe
• Protect yourself online
• Get help