Throughout the months-long ordeal that's resulted in the termination of NFL player Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens due to a recently surfaced domestic abuse video, one voice has remained quiet: that of Rice's wife, Janay Palmer.
"I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I'm mourning the death of my closest friend," Janay Rice wrote. "But to have to accept the fact that it's reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that [the] media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass [off] for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific."
In February, TMZ released a video showing Rice appearing to drag Palmer unconscious from a casino elevator in Atlantic City, NJ. Rice and Palmer were both arrested in February following the incident, and Rice was suspended for two games, and the Ravens' tweeted out a now-deleted statement on behalf of Janay Palmer, saying she "deeply regrets the role she played in the incident that night."
Palmer married Rice at the end of June, four months after the incident in the elevator took place. A full video emerged Monday of Rice punching Palmer in the face in the elevator, and Rice was suspended indefinitely from the league.
From Palmer's statement, it's clear she is standing by Rice. What's less obvious is how often this occurs for women in domestic violence situations, and what that means.
According to Doorways, a domestic violence organization, an abuser will hit their partner an average of 35 times before police are notified, and it can take an average of seven times to attempt leaving before doing so for good. Meanwhile, a vast majority of those who are being abused at home stay with their partners, for reasons that range from having children together to still being in love in them.
Of course, the question shouldn't be "Why does a woman stay?" but instead, "Why is her partner hurting her?" Following Rice's arrest, two social media trends emerged on Twitter: one stating #WhyIStayed, and the other #WhyILeft. It's a rare insight into the secret, silent world of domestic abuse, and a step toward seeing just how pervasive the problem truly is.
#whyistayed Because when he said he was sorry, I trusted that meant it wouldn't happen again. Again. Again. Again. Again.— Katie Clark (@omgcornflakes) September 9, 2014
I came from generations of violence, it was all I knew. Naturally, I deserved it. #WhyIStayed— Heidi Sue Angueira (@Heidicake) September 9, 2014
#WhyIStayed 17 years of abuse. I DID tell. Our families knew. His work knew. Our kids knew. I needed a better option than a temp shelter.— Carrie (@ArmyofBlonde) September 9, 2014
#WhyIStayed He told me I was lucky to have him, and that he needed me as much as I needed him. I thought I was in love. I believed him.— Ze (@VikingPlumb) September 9, 2014
By the time he hurts you, you're already convinced you need him to survive. #WhyIStayed— Elizabeth Plank (@feministabulous) September 9, 2014
He isolated me from my friends & sapped my confidence completely, yet so gradually I didn't realize it was happening #WhyIStayed— Stormy (@thatstormygirl) September 9, 2014
#WhyIStayed Because the police couldn't help me until he actually assaulted me.— vtnoel (@vtnoel) September 9, 2014
#WhyIStayed I watched my mom be bloodied & broken since I could remember. My bones weren't broken & rarely was I bloodied. I was grateful.— SaraJoyM (@Tempibones) September 9, 2014
You fall in love- they R wonderful & make U feel amazing. No one falls in love w/ violence. But love? Love always wins, right? #WhyIStayed— Mama Pants (@Thefamilypants) September 9, 2014