It is astounding how something as simple as the ‘#’ could be so very powerful. Social media is still up and coming, improving daily and now the world has found a way to use social media for the higher purpose of support and unity. Who knew something like this would ever help so many people find an outlet for their grief, struggle and find support in others who have been through the same thing.
Previously we did a blog about the #Yesallwomen trend that went worldwide instantly, https://searchingforskylarks.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/yesallwomen-notallmen/. This was in reaction to Elliot Rodger and his ‘Day of retribution’, a young man who’s reason for committing mass murder, was because he had been ‘rejected’ by all women and they deserved to die because, in short, they didn’t want to have sex with him. http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1173808-elliot-rodger-manifesto.html. #Yesallwomen gives women a place to share their daily experiences of chauvinism and sexism, it is ridiculous how often this occurs. Reading the tweets, a lot of men don’t even realise they are being sexist. It is constant. In relatiliation, men created their own hashtag #Notallmen, explaining that all men should not be tarred with the same brush and that they do respect women as their equals. Both incredibly strong cases and captures a worldwide audience. These trends started in May and are STILL going strong,! More and more people need support on this particular subject, from both sides of the pond and have been able to find it. 4 months and continuing, how amazing is it that so many have been able to share their experience, get comfort and in such an accessible place!
Following this a new hashtag trend has begun. It is another issue that thousands of people suffer every single day and we wouldn’t even know if it was right under our noses- Domestic violence. #WhyIStayed – is the world’s chance to speak out and explain why they feel they have to stay in and cannot leave an abusive relationship. Started by Beverly Gooden @bevtgooden, last month, following the emergence of footage of American football player Ray Rice, abusing his now wife. The footage shows him knocking his then fiancee, Janay Palmer, out in an elevator with a punch to the face and then dragging her unconscious body out. Despicable! http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/08/tmz-video-ray-rice-punch-fiancee-elevator. Following this, before people knew of it, she went on to marry him. When it surfaced that Mr Rice had abused Ms Palmer, now Mrs Rice, her friends, family and the public felt forced to ask ‘Why did she stay?’. Who would stay after something so horrific? Was this an isolated incident? How long had it been going on for? The immediate questions that spring to mind as soon as any case of domestic violence is discovered. This sparked the world to say why they stay/stayed in abusive relationships. Having read the messages, done the research and having known sufferers myself, leaving just doesn’t seem like an option. Something as intensely complicated as domestic violence does not have just one simple answer, how could it? In February it was reported that ‘more than 1.1 million or 7% of women and 720,000 or 4% of men have been victims of some kind of domestic abuse in the past year, official crime figures reveal.’ and those are the reported cases, far too many people live in fear and never report any of their abuse. So if they can’t report it, how can they leave? This probably helps to prove why trends like this are so very helpful, even if victims aren’t amongst those tweeting, they are still able to read them and find some peace knowing they are not alone. Hopefully from that peace will come strength and the power to overcome their abuser and leave.
The stories you read are absolutely heartbreaking but there is an air of reassurance that those who feel most isolated, do have an outlet. An additional reassurance is following #Whyistayed, #Whyileft emerged. People telling their stories of violence, their reasons for staying and their strength and reason for leaving, saving themselves and their families.
‘#Whyistayed I was afraid of being alone, too beaten down to understand and scared. #Whyileft i was even more afraid of being in a grave’
‘#Whyistayed because i wanted my son to have a father. #Whyileft because i wanted my son to have a mother’
‘#Whyistayed she brain washed me to think i deserve abuse and unhappiness. #Whyileft I finally believed in myself and believed she was wrong’
This begs the question, why is this new ‘hashtag activism’ so popular? There are helplines and groups offered to people but this seems to get a much bigger reaction. Why?
We asked our flockers, as we always do and the most common answer is support and comfort. Being able to see so many others that have suffered in the same way as you is chilling but lets people know that they are not alone. Loneliness and the fear of being alone is what cripples people into staying with their abuser. They feel that if they leave they will be judged and hated and therefore alone. Also there is the ‘what do i do now’. So many people stay because they have been made to feel that nobody could ever love them as much as their abusive partner, or they are ‘damaged’ and nobody could ever love someone with as many ‘problems’ as them. It is disgusting to think that these people are made to feel they have no way out so let’s hope that this new form of release encourages others to come forwards and save themselves from any further torture. If there is something, anything, to let people in need know they have choices and will be loved, understood, listened to then it can only be a good thing!
If anybody is ever in need, the UK number for the domestic violence helpline is 0808 2000 247 http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/ – don’t ever suffer alone! You ARE worth so much more!