If you watched or listened to any news last week, you know that domestic violence, an issue that is often swept under the rug, made headlines. The trigger was the release of the elevator video of NFL star Ray Rice punching his then fiancé and knocking her unconscious. The Baltimore Ravens cut him and the NFL suspended him indefinitely after TMZ posted the video to their website. Now the NFL has hired an independent investigator to see if its Executives had properly investigated the case before they handed down a slap-on-the-wrist two-game suspension to Rice or if they had seen this video and covered up what they knew.
Social media exploded with comments on the case and we could read for ourselves how many people still blame the victim. Some people asked “why does she stay?” as if leaving an abuser is easy. Then Beverly Gooden, a former victim, decided to give a voice to those who have suffered and stayed. She used Twitter and the hashtag #whyIstayed. Her posts revealed the complicated mix of fear, love, trauma, and practical realities that keeps victims in those relationships at least until they can safely leave. (Some women risk being killed if they try to leave.) Many other victims added their experiences and some added #whyIleft. These 140 character posts exposed the human tragedy of domestic violence in a way that we have not seen before.
Domestic violence isn’t a rare phenomenon in America. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year, and 1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
From #WhyIStayed by Jared Keller
Domestic violence is a very serious issue impacting over a million women a year. People from every walk of life were weighing in on this story. Archbishop Lori of Baltimore wrote Our Role in Ending Domestic Violence which appeared in their Archdiocesan paper on September 11, 2014, addressing the issue.
The Archbishop quoted the U.S. Bishops 2002 statement on domestic violence, When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women, an updated version of their 1992 statement. It is worth reading. It reenforces many of the points made by Beverly Gooden and other victims. This is a pastoral moment—a teachable moment in which our Bishops can repeat the opening line of that statement: “As pastors of the Catholic Church in the United States, we state as clearly and strongly as we can that violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified.” And we all can commit ourselves to do our part to end domestic violence against women.
Photo credit: Crying Woman ©John Gomez/DPC
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