Amid Ray Rice Video Fallout, Domestic Violence Victims Debate

Two trending Twitter hashtags, #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, tell stories of pain and resolve

First came the outrage, as the video showing NFL running back Ray Rice punching his wife in the face eliminated any doubt about the level of violence he used againt her in a hotel elevator.

Now, a day after the video emerged, and the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens cut ties with the former Pro Bowl player, a debate over domestic violence has exploded on Twitter. Two trending hashtags demonstrate the complicated decisions victims face: #WhyIStayed and then #WhyILeft.

Women -- and men -- wrote about trauma and fear.

A statement from Janay Rice, in which she blames the media, added to the debate Tuesday over domestic violence.

“No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family,” Janay Rice wrote in an Instagram post. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing.”

The video, released by the celebrity website TMZ, shows Ray Rice punching her and dragging her from an elevator in a hotel in Atlantic City.

A writer, Beverly Gooden, said on her website that she created the hashtag #WhyIStayed after the Internet blew up with the question. She was physically abused by her ex-husband for more than a year, she wrote.

“I can’t speak for Janay Rice, but I can speak for Beverly Gooden,” she wrote.

“Leaving was a process, not an event,” she wrote. “And sometimes it takes awhile to navigate through the process.”

If you are the victim of domestic violence, you can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224. The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence has information about keeping yourself safe.

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