— Elana Zak (@elanazak) September 9, 2014
Looming over this violent act is the fact that Janay went on to marry the man who beat her — leading some people, most notably the anchors on Fox News’s Fox and Friends, to wonder why she, and other abused women, wouldn’t just immediately flee an abusive relationship. They don’t, because it’s not that simple.
Hence the hashtag #whyistayed.
It was started by writer Beverly Gooden, who wrote, “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.” It began trending on Twitter on Monday night, as women used the hashtag to explain the psychology and the reality of their domestic abuse situations — some thought it would get better, others didn’t have a place to turn, many felt shame, several wanted to keep the family together. The testimonies are powerful to read, and they shred the idea that it’s easy for victims to leave their abusers.
Olga Khazan rounds up #whyistayed tweets and research on domestic abuse:
In 1999, law professor and domestic violence survivor Sarah Buel offered up 50 obstacles to leaving, most of which remain unchanged. She points out that the end of the relationship can be just the start of the most serious threats. A battered woman is 75 percent more likely to be murdered when she tries to flee than if she stays.
Welfare is the major safety net for single moms, but its monthly benefit levels are far below living expenses for a family of three. In a study of Texas abuse victims who returned home, the number-one reason cited for returning was financial, Buel writes.
Sarah Kaplan adds another important detail:
The National Coalition for Prevention of Domestic Violence estimates that 25 percent of women experience intimate partner violence, and according to the National Domestic Abuse hotline, it takes an average of seven tries for a victim to leave an abusive relationship.
The types of tweets you will find over at #whyistayed:
#WhyIStayed ….because I thought I was a strong person who loved a damaged person and only I could help him.
— Ashley (@sashleyham) September 9, 2014
I have a genetic disease and his health insurance was covering my treatment. #WhyIStayed
— Renné Louise (@Wrennelouise) September 9, 2014