Charlotte woman leads Twitter discussion on #WhyIStayed - | WBTV Charlotte

Charlotte woman leads Twitter discussion on #WhyIStayed

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Beverly Gooden was venting her frustration on Twitter after watching the criticism hurled toward the wife of Ray Rice for staying in an abusive relationship. Her simple hashtag has ignited a national discussion on Twitter.

Gooden created #WhyIStayed, to share the complex reasons she stayed in an abusive marriage. She eventually left her abuser. She does not know Janay Rice, and she is not speaking on her behalf.

Monday, Rice was suspended by the NFL for abusing his wife. Video released by the entertainment website TMZ shows Rice hitting her to the point of knocking her unconscious in an elevator several months ago.

Rice received deferred prosecution, which means his criminal record can remain clear. The NFL initially suspended him for two games.

Since the video of the assault circulated, people on social media have questioned why Janay Rice would stay with a man who hit her.

Gooden understands.

On her website, Gooden writes about how she believed it was love, that he would change, was told that God hated divorce. She also needed an escape plan.

Other women instantly started responding to Gooden's tweets. They shared their own reasons for #WhyIStayed, some citing insurance reasons, fear, financial need.

At the women's shelter in Mecklenburg County, there's been an increase of 3300 calls to the crisis hotline in one year. Jane Taylor, clinical supervisor at the shelter, says one reason for the increase could be the new protocol in how police respond to domestic violence situations.

Officers give the victims a questionnaire, according to Taylor. If the victim answers "yes" to any of the questions, there's an effort to connect that woman with the crisis hotline.

The need is great. The old battered women's shelter only had 29 beds. The new shelter has 80 beds, plus trundle beds in the rooms. Taylor said it is always full and sometimes they have to turn women away.

She says not having an escape plan and a safe place are two reasons some women stay with their abuser.

"I understand perfectly when she says, 'I feel safer being there right now than I do leaving.'" said Taylor about her experience with battered women.

"You can't just walk out of a relationship like this," she said. "You have to plan an escape. Until those obstacles are gone, we have to understand that decision," said Taylor.

Gooden understands from experience, and now a lot more women are chiming in. None of them speaks for Janay Rice, nor do they judge her decision to stay with her husband.

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