20 Powerful #WhyIStayed And #WhyILeft Tweets From Twitter’s Domestic Violence Conversation

Yesterday, after TMZ released video footage of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice brutally attacking his then-fiance Janay Palmer, Rice was cut from the team by the NFL. Instead of sympathy or concern, Janay has mostly been the target of criticism, in particular for marrying her abuser and/or somehow inciting the violence in the first place. Writer Beverly Gooden grew fed up with the victim-blaming nonsense she saw on her Twitter feed, and decided to share her own story of abuse. Gooden told Mic, “When I saw those tweets, my first reaction was shame. 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…I want people to know that they have a voice! That they have the power. That’s so critical, that survivors feel empowered.”

Gooden began to share the reasons she stayed in an abusive relationship as long as she did, incorporating the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. Former victims of domestic violence from all over the Twittersphere joined the conversation to share their most vulnerable memories of what kept them trapped in the cycle of abuse. People from all walks of life shared their experiences and, in their own ways, spoke out in Janay Rice’s defense:

There were some to-be-expected snafus, like when pizza company DiGiorno tried to jump on the bandwagon with this tasteless tweet:

The company has since deleted the tweet and apologized by insisting that they “did not read what the hashtag was about before posting,” which just makes them seem even more tone deaf. DiGiorno tried to make it right by directly reaching out some of the Twitter users who complained. After that douchey distraction was taken care of, the tweets kept pouring in, each one more heartbreaking than the last. Here are some of the most impactful tweets from the conversation: