Welcome to today’s edition of The V Word.

You can listen to the episode here 

Did you stay? Do you stay in a domestic violence relationship? I did and here is why I stayed…..
I stayed because I was told over and over again that no one would ever want me or love me. I stayed because he drove us so far into debt that I could not afford to leave. I stayed because he held a gun on me to keep me from leaving the house. I stayed because he separated me from all of my friends. I stayed until I had nothing left to lose and it took the police arresting him to get people to believe me, well a few people believed me.

The hashtag #WhyIStayed, started by American author Beverley Gooden, herself a former victim of domestic violence, to encourage women to tell their stories and help others understand why they felt unable to leave a violent, or controlling, partner, has been trending since the insensitive comments made by Fox News presenter. Brian Kilmeade, in discussing a video of Ray Rice knocking is his fiancée unconscious in February, made the statement that women who remain with abusive partners send a “terrible message” to others in the same position. In this same segment he mocked the survivor stating “I think the message is to take the stairs” and his cohost said ““The message is, when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera.” These two statements once again putting all the blame on the victim and no accountability on the abuser. During the same time Ray Rice and his now wife held a press conference where she apologized for her role that night. These are all examples of our culture of blaming the victim instead of blaming the person committing the crime.

This created a firestorm on social media, with thousands of responses across twitter, tumblr and facebook, along with numerous bloggers and journalists discussing the dynamics of why people stay in domestic violence relationships.

There are many reasons why women remain trapped in abusive relationships… threats by the abuser to kill them if they leave are common and violence escalating to killings is common…Did you know that lethality increases when a woman tries to leave? Separation from friends, family and support systems are frequent tactics by the abuser and have a significant impact on survivor’s ability to leave and find safe places to go to…friends, family, and law enforcement may not believe the victim or understand the seriousness, leaving the victim more vulnerable than before…pets and children are often used as hostages with threats to harm them and pets often are harmed or killed as an intimidation tactic…to control and prevent the victim from leaving.

Along with #WhyIStayed came is #WhyILeft – where survivors gave both why they stayed and why they left, providing very poignant responses to what finally helped them to leave.

Instead of asking a person why do they stay, perhaps ask what you could do to make them safer. Is there any thing you could do to help to help them prepare to leave if that is what they choose? You could connect them with resources, give them a hotline number, and be understanding of what they are choosing in order to survive.

Do you need help or information? Here are some options…

If you have been assaulted, call 911.
The Richmond area has a new regional hotline specific to the needs of domestic violence survivors: 804-612-6126

To get a forensic exam to collect evidence and receive medical care, the local hospitals in the Richmond area with Forensic Nurse Examiners are at Medical College of Virginia and St. Mary’s Hospital.

For help with counseling and advocacy, local rape crisis centers, child advocacy centers and domestic violence shelters can provide services. To find a center closest to you… you can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.

Are you a family member or a bystander and want know how you can help?

For information on how to report an assault in the Richmond, Virginia, USA are, you can call the non-emergency line at 804-646-5100 or go by a local police station office. The main Richmond office is located at 200 East Grace Street.

Get involved with your local domestic violence shelter to join a group or service that is available. Donate to funds services that help women recovery and restart their lives.

Want to share a story or ask a question? Email me at thevword.radio@gmail.com or tweet me at my twitter account: @preventviolence. You can read the transcript for this show and past shows on my blog at www.thevword.org

The V Word is recorded in the studios of WRIR-LP 97.3 and streamed at wrir.org, read and produced by Carol Olson. Today’s episode was written by Jennifer Gallienne and Carol Olson. Music was created by The Etching Tin.