After a video of American football player Ray Rice attacking his then-fiancée (now wife) Janay Rice, and knocking her unconscious, surfaced earlier this week the world responded in sheer outrage.
Ray was promptly dismissed by his team, the Baltimore Ravens, and media outlets and Twitter exploded in fury. But after the initial shock of the attack subsided, the world's focus shifted - as is typical in domestic abuse situations - to the victim.
Why did Janay stand by her husband? Why did she go ahead with the marriage? Why didn't she just leave him?
But for those in abusive relationships, the solution isn't as straightforward as it may appear from the outside.
American author and domestic violence survivor Beverly Gooden knows this too well and, in the midst of victim blaming of Janay Rice, she decided to step in.
"When I saw those tweets, my first reaction was shame," Beverly told Mic.
"The same shame that I felt back when I was in a violent marriage. It's a sort of guilt that would make me crawl into a shell and remain silent. But today, for a reason I can't explain, I'd had enough. I knew I had an answer to everyone's question of why victims of violence stay. I can't speak for Janay Rice, I can only speak for me."
Beverly then started sharing her own experiences, using the hashtag #WhyIStayed to explain why she couldn't 'just leave'.
I tried to leave the house once after an abusive episode, and he blocked me. He slept in front of the door that entire night. #WhyIStayed— Beverly Gooden (@bevtgooden) September 8, 2014
I stayed because my pastor told me that God hates divorce. It didn't cross my mind that God might hate abuse, too. #WhyIStayed— Beverly Gooden (@bevtgooden) September 8, 2014
I had to plan my escape for months before I even had a place to go and money for the bus to get there. #WhyIStayed— Beverly Gooden (@bevtgooden) September 8, 2014
Beverly then invited other domestic violence victims to share their stories:
He abused me mentally, made violent self harm scenes, & told me he'd kill himself if I left. I believed him 7 months too long. #WhyIStayed— Lkj Slain (@LKJSlain) September 11, 2014
I was determined to make it work, wanted kids to have their dad, convinced myself that what he did to me wasn't affecting them #WhyIStayed— Rachel Miller (@ReIgniteRomance) September 9, 2014
B/c he never hit me. Society has taught me emotional, verbal, & mental abuse is "not that bad" & "at least he didn't hit you." #WhyIStayed— roopa cheema (@SJRoopa) September 8, 2014
He made me feel absolutely worthless. I thought he was the best I'd ever get. I thought that if I tried harder, he'd change. #WhyIStayed— Evan Avery Birch (@brassiest) September 8, 2014
Because I didn't know what a healthy relationship was, or how mine wasn't. #WhyIStayed— Mara Jade (@marajade13) September 9, 2014
The hashtag soon took off, tweeters have taken to combining the #WhyIStayed hashtag with #WhyILeft, to explain the trigger that eventually made them leave their abusive partner:
If you are affected by domestic abuse, please use the Freephone 24 hr National domestic violence helpline on 0808 2000 247Suggest a correction