#WhyIStayed: The Twitter Hashtag that sparked an important conversation on domestic violence.

TMZ released footage of American NFL player Ray Rice violently attacking his ‘now wife’ Janay Palmer back in February. His former team, The Ravens, cut all ties with Rice and he was suspended indefinitely from the NFL.

But why is this relevant?

Well, while many were appalled at his actions and supportive of Rice’s punishment, many people including this lovely Fox News reporter pointed the blame towards his wife, for sticking with him.

“Let’s not all jump on the bandwagon of demonizing this guy,” said Fox News contributor Ben Carson. “He obviously has some real problems, and his wife obviously knows that, because she subsequently married him.”

Ladies and Gentleman, this is victim blaming in a nut shell.

It’s important to recognise that no one, in any form of abuse situation is responsible for their abuse. Something I’m not sure this Fox News reporter quite understands… and which some people on Twitter were happy to correct for him.

So what sparked the #WhyIStayed conversation on Twitter?

In response to an alarming trend on Twitter where people who viewed the video were asking ‘why did she marry him?’ and ‘why didn’t she leave him?’ instead of ‘why did he hit her?’ writer Beverly Gooden decided to flip the focus of the conversation to draw awareness to the underlying complexities of domestic violence.

She called on her followers to share their stories of domestic abuse with the hashtag #WhyIStayed and within a few hours, thousands of Twitter users were voicing their support and sharing their experiences.

“When the overwhelming public voice is of shame, you can get lost in the guilt. You can feel voiceless. I want people to know that they have a voice! That they have the power. That’s so critical, that survivors feel empowered.” said Ms Gooden.

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These conversations are important in shifting the myths surrounding harassment and assault. Ignorance is often the main contributor to these myths and it is important that we continue to share and voice our own experiences because victim shaming is never okay.

Do you think the #WhyIStayed twitter conversation was helpful in raising awareness?

Source: http://mic.com/articles/98326/19-why-istayed-tweets-that-everyone-needs-to-see?utm_source=policymicFB&utm_medium=main&utm_campaign=social

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Victim Blaming 101

Unfortunately, victim blaming is deeply embedded in our culture.

There is a visible and pervasive culture of harassment and disrespect towards victims of sexual assault. It is easier for society to blame the victim than admit overarching systematic problems.

Rape culture can be defined as discourse that unconsciously tolerates and normalizes violence against women and sexual coercion in a way that views rape as inevitable and the victim to blame.

Telling a man or woman they should have prevented their own attack puts the responsibility on the victim, and not the person who SHOULD be held accountable. The problem of instructing potential victims to avoid rape or victim-blaming sexual assault survivors is that it puts the burden of responsibility of preventing rape on the victim instead of the perpetrator.

There is an urgent need to shift the culture away from the ‘myths’ that shame survivors into silence. To change this, we must rethink the way we view victims of abuse both personally and through stories in the media and be aware of the effect such thinking can have on people.

This social project aims to shed light upon this victim blaming culture in an effort to raise awareness and understanding of the effects such thinking can have on victims, potential victims and society as a whole.

Because if we can recognise it, we can stop it.

#thisisnotashamegame