One short hashtag shared on social media can cause a movement if it catches wind. In 2014, security camera footage showing NFL player Ray Rice violently hitting his then-fiancee was released. This video initiated a conversation of why domestic abuse victims stay in toxic relationships. In response, Beverly Gooden, a domestic abuse survivor, created #WhyIStayed to change the conversation surrounding domestic violence. Within hours, the hashtag was trending and shortly after, #WhyILeft was added to the conversations.
Many victims took to Twitter to share their reasons. Many said they felt trapped, they feared for their lives. One woman said that after being repeatedly told by her abuser that her family didn’t love her, she believed it and felt that she had no one else to go to.
I remember trying to leave and he said "if you really want to leave you'll have to get passed me" as he stood in the doorway #WhyIStayed
— Sophia (@sophiaproimos) December 9, 2015
God hates divorce, I wasn't going to let a second marriage fail. I'm not a quitter. I wanted a real family for my kids. #WhyIStayed
— PollyAnne (@Silkpainter78) September 18, 2015
Others took to Twitter to show support.
Sharing these experiences is important. We have to be brave enough to call that out. It's scary to go public, and Lord knows my ex made me think I should never go public… But here we are.#WhyIStayed
— Jason Meier (@jasonrobert) March 26, 2018
#whyistayed An incredible advocate for those who have experienced abuse and an incredible education for our students who can now better help themselves and others in a similar situation! Thank you, Bev!
— Beth Livingston (@drblivingston) March 15, 2018
But even so, there were Twitter users who were not supportive and found backlash in #WhyIStayed.
— Lindsay Fischer (@LinsFischer) December 15, 2015
if your not happy in your relationship,pack your bags and leave…!!!! #WhyIStayed
— Assistant BoyFriend (@Lefifi747) August 12, 2015
The hashtag has since been used for many other silly reasons, like someone who got sucked into a Netflix binge.