Twitter hashtags give domestic abuse victims a voice

CLEVELAND -- The disturbing video of former NFL player Ray Rice striking his then-fiancee is helping to give some victims of domestic abuse a voice.

Through Twitter many are helping to answer why they stayed and why they left their relationships.

A woman who once lived in Cleveland is behind this social media push.

Beverly Gooden says she wants people to understand that leaving is a process and not just a one-time event.

This Cleveland native shares her life story in book she titled "Confessions of a Church Girl."

When she saw the Ray Rice video, Beverly tried to answer why Rice's then-fiancee not only stayed in the relationship but went on to get married.

RELATED: Wife of Ray Rice posts statement, defends husband

Beverly was abused by her ex-husband for more than a year.

She wrote this tweet explaining why she stayed: "I tried to leave the house once after an abusive episode, and he blocked me. He slept in front of the door that entire night."

At the end she put #whyIstayed, which set off thousands of responses from other abuse survivors.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Victims of domestic violence take to Twitter

Leslie wrote, "Because he made me believe no one else would understand."

Rachel said, "Because my word was the only evidence."

Kat wrote, "Because after being stuck in an abusive relationship for a while I started to believe I deserved all of it."

WKYC Channel 3 and the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center teamed up through a phone bank to help give victims the support they need.

"People leave when they have come to some determination that they have had enough. It's different for everyone and that's what people have a hard time understanding," said Tim Boehnlein, Director of Visitation and Court Services.

When victims choose to leave, counselors encourage creating a safety plan.

"When victims have a safety plan in place they are more likely to stay away and not return to that abusive partner," said Boehnlein.

Beverly hopes that #whyIstayed helps victims find their voice, compassion and hope.

#WhyIleft is also filled with thousands of responses from around the country.

If you are trying to leave or know someone who needs help, you can call 216-391-HELP.

IMPORTANT RESOURCES: Support is available for domestic violence victims

Follow WKYC's Kristin Anderson on Twitter: @KristinWKYC


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