#WhyIStayed spurs conversation on campus

By: Erica Lampert ~Staff Writer~

On Sept. 8 2014, Beverly Gooden started a social media revolution after she watched the videos of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his wife Janay Palmer hard enough to knock her unconscious.

A survivor of abuse herself, Gooden came to Xavier on March 24 to share her story and discuss the realities of domestic abuse.

Gooden read tweets that blamed and questioned Palmer for not leaving. She was motivated by these tweets to prove that leaving an abusive relationship is harder than walking out the door forever.

After tweeting reasons for why she stayed using #WhyIStayed, an uproar began, with millions sharing their stories of abuse and connecting with others who shared those experiences.
“I believe in the power of shared experience,” Gooden said. “I believe that we find strength in community. That is why I created this hashtag. I hope those tweeting using #WhyIStayed find a voice, find love, find compassion and find hope.”

Gooden was about to move in with her new husband, unaware that her husband had begun to abuse her and turned into a violent, possessive aggressor.

“I tried to leave the house, but he slept in front of the door to block me,” Gooden said.
She explained that her husband said he would change and that is why she stayed after he choked her and beat her. She said she needed time to find a place to go and money to survive once she left, which is why she stayed when he pushed her out of bed and punched her. However, after a year of abuse Gooden finally realized that her abuse was not her fault and that it could not continue anymore.

“An abusive situation is a process, not an event,” Gooden said. “There are so many layers to domestic violence. It’s not easy to leave someone you love. It’s not easy to leave when you have nowhere to go. It’s not easy to leave when you are threatened. It’s not easy to leave when you remember how it used to be, or when they romance you during the good times, or when they promise it is the last time. Because you believe in love and you believe in them.”
One in four women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, and it is one of the most chronically underreported crimes. Several college students today have died from domestic violence and many have been emotionally and physically damaged by them.

As Gooden talked to Xavier students, she shared two stories of college students who died from attempting to leave and fight with their abusers. She wanted to show the warning signs of domestic violence so students at Xavier could avoid the fate these girls did not have the resources to avoid.

Student Activities Council collaborated with Student Wellness Advocacy Group (SWAG), the Title IX Office, the Multicultural Gender and Women’s Center, Ladies with an Emphasis on Achievement and Distinction (LEAD) and National Pan-Hellenic Council to bring Gooden to Xavier to share her story and to discuss domestic violence in order to encourage those in violent relationships to take a stand and leave.