Why you should never judge a domestic violence victim for not leaving sooner

I’ll admit it. Sometimes, I wonder if anyone is reading this blog. Yep. And if so, who? Are you touched by my work and my words, even for a fleeting moment? I also wonder if any of the stories I pour my hard work and heart into for TV resonate with you.

I do a lot of stories on some pretty dark and serious subjects: rape, domestic violence, people with intellectual disabilities not getting the support they need. One that I was particularly proud of, was done right after the Ray Rice scandal. For those who may not know, the football star hit his then-fiance Janay so hard in an Atlantic City elevator she fell. The couple’s private nightmare was caught on surveillance camera and released for the world to see. Soon, Janay was being criticized widely for staying with Rice. (They got married soon after the incident). Janay released a statement after the video came to light to let the world know she is staying with her man.

A woman named Beverly Gooden wanted to illuminate on why we shouldn’t rush to judge Janay. She started the hashtag #WhyIStayed to explain why there’s no simple answer to the complex issue of domestic violence. Gooden posted a few tweets about reasons she stayed in an abusive relationship for the time she did. What followed was an avalanche of openness, vulnerability, support, sharing and illumination on why it’s not so easy and clear cut for a victim of domestic violence to pick up and go.

Btw, experts say a domestic violence victim leaves an average of seven times before it becomes permanent. What’s more, when looking at domestic violence homicides, about 75% of victims were killed as they attempted to leave the relationship or after the relationship ended.

Anyway, I did that story last month, and today, out of the blue, I received this email (some info has been changed to protect the sender)

Hey Debra, you hit home with your news coverage on #WhyIStayed #Why I left. I left my home Sept X and will never go back to being abused.  Thanks for making a voice for people like me.

I guess you do watch, and listen. Thank you.

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