The Hashtag that Changed the Conversation Around Domestic Violence


Domestic violence is a complicated topic; it may be thorny for the journalists who cover it, but it’s even more troublesome for those who live it. That’s why when the outrageous video showing abuses against Janay Palmer (Mrs. Rice) — wife of former NFL Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice — was released, fans were appalled by more than Mr. Rice’s actions. Many were shocked that Mrs. Rice stayed.

The Domestic Violence “Conversation” Indicates that Many Victims Stay

In response to Mrs. Rice’s continued support for her husband, a global conversation that we don’t normally have regarding domestic violence began via the social media hashtag #WhyIStayed. The dialogue that followed expressed unnervingly familiar sentiments — not unlike the reasons we hear from the domestic violence victims who seek help from us.

More than anything, the thoughts and ideas from the #WhyIStayed movement prove most sufferers aren’t aware of their options.

According to a report by CNN on domestic violence, the best way to ensure safety and exercise options is to first find shelter and then seek legal advice.

#WhyIStayed: The Reasons Why Victims Stay

The epidemic is clear; the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that more than 15 percent of all violent crime is related to domestic assault. However, why victims continue to endure the abuse is not. Every story is different. The #WhyIStayed conversation stitches common threads through the complex tapestry of domestic violence. It tells us that some “chose” to stay, while others feel they didn’t have a choice. Regardless of each, unique situation, many victims stay for a few core reasons:

  • Love – Victims, male or female, cite the love found in the relationship itself — not the abuse — as the reason why they stayed.
  • Money – Many victims fear they’ll be unable to afford the lifestyle that’s supported by their abuser, which leads to stress over financials, as well.
  • Fear – Anxiety over love or money, as well as one’s own wellbeing are all common reasons many victims stay.

Abusive partners habitually cause victims to feel isolation or shame, which can make reaching out even more difficult for the sufferers regardless of the reasons above.

#WhyILeft: Finding the Strength to Leave

From #WhyIStayed a new topic emerged. The conversation shifted to highlight why victims leave, as well. The #WhyILeft dialogue outlines the strengths of the women and men who decided enough was enough. Yet, these hashtag responses don’t even begin to capture what’s needed to build that strength and secure a new life.

Are you a victim who doesn’t know where to begin? Justice starts with action. Bringing criminal charges against your domestic partner may seem impossible, but a lawyer can help. At the bond hearing, with the support of your witnesses, we’ll work to keep your abuser off the streets and out of your home even before a Domestic Violence Injunction Hearing, which gives you more time to safely review your options.

If you’re reading this article, then it’s likely that you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence. Don’t wait for matters to get worse. Contact Dean G. Tsourakis today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Family and Criminal Law attorney.

Join the discussion. Are you a current or former victim of domestic abuse? Share your reasons for staying or leaving.