#WhyIStayed: Ray Rice Scandal Sparks Conversation on Domestic Violence

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September 9, 2014;TODAY

This week started off with a shocking video released by TMZ that showed professional football player Ray Rice in the act of assaulting his fiancée (now wife) in an elevator, escalating the scandal at the NFL and spurring Rice’s team, the Baltimore Ravens, to drop him. As the story has developed, Rice’s wife, Janay, has stood by her husband’s side. In late May, after casino footage showing the scene preceding and following the assault hit the media, Janay apologized in a press conference for what she said was “her role in that night.” She struck out at the media, some of whom somehow still assign her blame in being attacked, on her Instagram on Tuesday, saying, “to take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass [off] for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.” These statements in defense of Rice have left some spectators baffled, though experts describe her reaction as “not unusual” for those subjected to abuse.

What has emerged from this ruckus is an empowering conversation on Twitter and throughout social media highlighting the complexities of domestic abuse and raising awareness on how prevalent abusive relationships are in our society.

Author Beverly Gooden initiated the #WhyIStayed hashtag on Twitter, explaining that she saw a version of herself in Janay Rice’s situation:



The #WhyIStayed hashtag ignited a new powerful conversation that quickly caught fire, allowing women who had personal experiences with domestic abuse to bravely speak out. Gooden explains, “I believe in storytelling. I believe in the power of shared experience. I believe that we find strength in community. That is why I created this hashtag. I hope those tweeting using #WhyIStayed find a voice, find love, find compassion, and find hope.”

The trending hashtag has given a voice to many women who felt powerless against abusers in families and relationships—past and present. Below is a taste of the important conversation developing through the trending hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft:



It’s incredible to see so many women speak out on such private and shameful moments in their lives, which helps empower other women to do the same. By giving women a platform to voice their experiences, we can shine a new light on the underlying issues that affect domestic violence. The media frenzy around the Ray Rice scandal has taken off and raised some important questions, but the conversation through social media has truly been transformed by these hashtags and created a dynamic perspective on the issue of domestic abuse.—Aine Creedon

Disclaimer: Since this article is about people freely expressing their opinions we have allowed comments that may be deeply offensive for some (including us).

  • Josue Martinez

    I am a 75 year old male, happily married for 33 years. Seeing my Dad abuse my mother physically and mentally while growing up, and helpless, I made a commitment never to do the same. I also taught my two sons to do the same and neither have ever abused their wives or girl friends. I vividly remember even to this day the fear and terror of my younger days. My Dad stopped his horrific behavior when I was big enough to stop him.
    My advice to all women being abused is, 1) do your best to think rationally even in your darkest days, 2) Seek help from those wonderful organizations committed to helping you, 2) seek legal help from the law, and 3) leave the sob AS SOON AS YOU CAN!!

  • Yar Drofwark

    Two wrongs don’t make one right

  • S Gibson

    I knew crystal meth and crack was bad for me but I stayed with it because I promised myself I would quit the next day.

  • mike

    God doesn’t care one way or another about abuse. That is why the bible says a rapist must marry his victim.

  • fazsha

    Apparently Janay Rice is not allowed to have her own valid reasons for staying. Her choices will not be considered ‘her choices’, but rather those of some traumatized victim. There is no better way to continue the infantilization of women than to invalidate all the choices Janay makes that the societal “we” doesn’t approve of. We don’t know the details of the love that keeps Ray and Janay together, so we impose our own cynical reasons; but who among us would cede the power to someone else to end a romantic relationship we were in? No one. We stay because we want to, and we leave when we’re ready.

  • moonman

    Ladies! Understand that your life and safety is far more important than love or for the sake of making it work. Your life is as valuable as anyone or anything else. We are equal in the eyes of the highest. So don’t compromise your life or make yourself second hand to a man. Remember that we live in a male based male dominated society all across the world. Opression is real but still stand up for you!!!

  • Patti Hoy

    I stayed for 12 years why …I own you like the cars in the drive..who else will have you and three kids to feed…i will tie you naked to the tree in the front yard naked and let everyone see what a piece of shit you are. Thru broken bones head thru the wall it was all my fault… He isolated all my family..when i finally left with the help of a neighbor and now best friend of 32 years the freedom took years to accept. I couldnt make my own decisions i shook all the time and even today if someone comes near me unexptantly I duck or jump. The great news…I haven’t starved no one died. I returned to school got my degree moved far away my children did well with the sad exception of my eldest son.
    This is the greatest lesson and the most painful.
    He used our eldest son mentally abused him to get to me and at 19 years mu beautiful boy could no longet live with the abuse and comitted suicide..

  • JR

    As someone who has been in a helping position, a problem is even when they have the help they need to get out, they keep going back to that life as a codependent victim. While helping some who keep going back, staying in that life, others are not able to get the help they need.
    Men victims seem to be better at getting out of these relationships and staying out. They seem much less addicted to the drama. Leave and stay out of the relationship EMOTIONALLY, stay out of the drama, stay away, period.

  • Bill Fortune

    A study done by the University of New Hampshire several years ago showed that females are the perpetrators of domestic violence in more than 50% of the cases.
    Social workers, university professors, feminist and even some clergy have spent way too much time convincing society that females are victims and males are always the perpetrators instead of determining the root causes of the problems and proposing solutions.
    One of the major problems is the fact that girls that do not have a positive relationship with their father have more serious and more frequent emotional problems (shown in other studies). The people listed above, the police and judicial system tend to make the problems worse. The legal system is about crime and punishment and is not a good venue for resolving relationship issues. Additionally, the feminist have insisted that the father be removed from the family instead of working to show how problems are resolved in a relationship and to educate people about the importance and role the father needs to play the family.
    I contend that no one should be allowed to graduate from junior high school until they can demonstrate a proficiency or working knowledge of Dr. Harville Hendrix’s works. People need to understand why they are attracted to other people and what they need to do to replace any defective parenting or lack thereof. This is not to say that all relationship problems are simply psychological or emotional., but at least it’s a start so other more serious problems can be addressed
    Bill Fortune, founder, Fathers United for Equal Justice, New Hampshire send comments to indust.consult@rcn.com

  • phil

    what Bible is this? You mean the Koran.

  • aoeuidhtns

    It started super simple. She’d say things. Then later she started doing things. My eye’s black right now. I won’t stay. But the shelters don’t take men. I’m making plans. Saving money. Not going out. I bought transportation last Sunday, and put in my two weeks notice. Don’t know where i’m going.

  • Gil Guerrero

    This is wishful thinking and a specious argument on your part. You are cherry picking the New Hampshire data that seemed to show a similarity in assault rates, but research does NOT show that the nature and outcomes of male vs femaile assaults are similar. Women, by a wide margin, are injured and hospitalized more often in partner violence assaults, seriously injured up to 10x more and killed twice as often.

    It’s absurd to suggest that feminism is the problem; people (men or women) who believe that they can resolve their relationship issues with violence are the problem.The roots of that belief are multiple, personal, and complex.

    You are welcome to whatever ax you would like to grind against feminism or mothers or whatever your beef is, but your argument is attempting to make a false equivalence where no equivalence exists.

  • Edward

    We need to stop gendering the domestic violence issue with men being nearly half the victims not to mention the LGBT community who’s victimization functions outside the simplistic narratives put forth by women’s activist. We have decades of evidence supporting gender symmetry in domestic violence. We see higher rates of violence in Lesbian relationships than gay or straight. The issue here is violence not just the ‘awful men’ or ‘awful women’.

    “Facts and Statistics on Prevalence of Partner Abuse


    Overall, 24% of individuals assaulted by a partner at least once in their lifetime (23% for females and 19.3% for males)
    Higher overall rates among dating students
    Higher victimization for male than female high school students
    Lifetime rates higher among women than men
    Past year rates somewhat higher among men
    Higher rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) among younger, dating populations “highlights the need for school-based IPV prevention and intervention efforts”

    Overall, 25.3% of individuals have perpetrated IPV
    Rates of female-perpetrated violence higher than male-perpetrated (28.3% vs. 21.6%)
    Wide range in perpetration rates: 1.0% to 61.6% for males; 2.4% to 68.9% for women,
    Range of findings due to variety of samples and operational definitions of PV
    Emotional Abuse and Control

    80% of individuals have perpetrated emotional abuse
    Emotional abuse categorized as either expressive (in response to a provocation) or coercive (intended to monitor, control and/or threaten)
    Across studies, 40% of women and 32% of men reported expressive abuse; 41% of women and 43% of men reported coercive abuse
    According to national samples, 0.2% of men and 4.5% of women have been forced to have sexual intercourse by a partner
    4.1% to 8% of women and 0.5% to 2% of men report at least one incident of stalking during their lifetime
    Intimate stalkers comprise somewhere between one-third and one half of all stalkers.
    Within studies of stalking and obsessive behaviors, gender differences are much less when all types of obsessive pursuit behaviors are considered, but more skewed toward female victims when the focus is on physical stalking
    Facts and Statistics on Context

    Bi-directional vs. Uni-directional

    Among large population samples, 57.9% of IPV reported was bi-directional, 42% unidirectional; 13.8% of the unidirectional violence was male to female (MFPV), 28.3% was female to male (FMPV)
    Among school and college samples, percentage of bidirectional violence was 51.9%; 16.2% was MFPV and 31.9% was FMPV
    Among respondents reporting IPV in legal or female-oriented clinical/treatment seeking samples not associated with the military, 72.3% was bi-directional; 13.3% was MFPV, 14.4% was FMPV
    Within military and male treatment samples, only 39% of IPV was bi-directional; 43.4% was MFPV and 17.3% FMPV
    Unweighted rates: bidirectional rates ranged from 49.2% (legal/female treatment) to 69.7% (legal/male treatment)
    Extent of bi-directionality in IPV comparable between heterosexual and LGBT populations
    50.9% of IPV among Whites bilateral; 49% among Latinos; 61.8% among African-Americans”


  • Edward

    To my knowledge the Quran says no such thing but it is in the bible.

    “Deuteronomy 22:28-29New International Version (NIV)

    28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives”

  • Gil Guerrero

    Again, this is wishful thinking. Your source appears to be a anonymous “male movement” activist/aggregator that is trying to cherry pick the data in a fashion that minimizes the impacts on women while creating a false equivalence for men. The data does not discuss the disproportion in outcomes. Here is some data from the CDC to try to flesh out the picture a bit more fully:

    “1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Nearly, 15% of women (14.8%) and 4% of men have been injured as a result of IPV that included rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. In 2010, 241 males and 1095 females were murdered by an intimate partner.”

    Whether “partner violence” in any form appears to be similar in simple assault rate statistics, there are demonstrably more dangerous outcomes for women.

    I think we can agree that partner violence is complex. We can agree violence is about violence; we can agree that interventions need to be culturally aware for different offender populations; but when men perpetrate violence against women it is more often injurious and/or deadly and there is no symmetry or equivalence.

  • Shelter staff

    More and more shelters are accepting men. If you are able to call around to ask about admission criteria, you can go to http://www.domesticshelters.org to find shelter options in your area.