TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic photographs.
Ray Rice, former quarterback, was seen dragging his current wife, Janay Rice, out of an elevator, knocked out, after a fight they had had that had resulted in a loss of his temper. Then I ask, when was the last time you punched your partner in the face? Never? We all have fights with the people we love. Is this the way to effectively end the fight? Most of us understand that the method in which he handled the situation was incredibly inappropriate and disgusting. I don’t care who starts the fight or who ends the fight. Initiating a physical confrontation with anyone is abuse. Using violence against a partner or children is domestic abuse. The terrifying part about this news story is that there are probably many in the audience who were not as shocked as others by this behavior, but rather empathized for the victim, because the type of treatment the victim was experiencing was similar to a situation of their own. There are other victims with stories that have yet to be heard.
One in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Look at the women and the men standing next to you, in front of you, behind you. Are there four women? Seven men? Think about this, hypothetically. One of them could potentially be brought into a situation like this, with a partner that instills fear and pain rather than love and respect toward his or her partner. Domestic abuse is a long-standing issue across the world, but we experience the tip of the iceberg here in the US. 25% of women and 14% of our men will experience this fear in their lifetime, many will endure it without being heard. 25% of our women and 14% of our men are fighting a fight that feels like it can’t be won, and often times they don’t know who to turn to or how to receive the help that they need in this type of crises. With that being said, I find the emergence of the #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft hashtags on Twitter to be a monumental tribute to all those who have suffered and survived (and those whose lives ended much too soon) this tragic circumstance. I can’t imagine the strength of heart it takes to leave or to stay, and I hope that this campaign brings to the surface a better understanding about domestic abuse. Just because the issue hides behind bedroom doors doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed out in the open. These women addressing their own survival could potentially inspire someone who is currently struggling to find solace.
As for those who participated, openly and fearlessly, on Twitter with this campaign, you are loved and I thank you for being strong enough to bring the issue to light again. Domestic abuse needs to be combatted effectively, and with all the participants that are sharing their story, we are moving another step forward in the direction of change. I can only hope that one day this issue will diminish as matters are taken more and more seriously and dealt with more effectively. Nobody deserves to suffer this kind of physical or mental destruction. We deserve to feel safe in our own homes, safe with the individuals we live with and love, and safe in the hands of the support available to us.
If you know someone who may be in danger of domestic abuse or other forms of abuse, there are resources available to the public that can allow them to seek the help they need. Let them know that they have options and that the situation they find themselves in is not a means to an unwanted end.
You are not alone.
The Hotline provides a national hotline for victims of domestic abuse to call to get confidential help. Their phone number is the following phone number: 1−800−799−7233
In addition, they have a page for resources and support groups that might prove helpful in moving forward.
If you don’t know if the situation you or someone else is experiencing is considered abuse, consult the Is This Abuse? page.