Robin Givens became the poster child for domestic violence when it was revealed that her then-husband Mike Tyson often beat her. Just thinking about the professional boxer using his hands outside of the ring on a defenseless person, let alone a woman, is beyond frightening. But Givens, who was in the situation, didn’t run away…she stayed with him. Many domestic violence victims stay with their abusers and outsiders just can’t understand why.
Former NFL Raven Ray Rice was recorded striking his wife Janay in the elevator of an Atlantic City hotel. Janay is in the same predicament as Givens once was–she’s married to her abuser. The scandal sparked outrage and birthed the hashtag #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. Domestic violence survivors rallied on Twitter, sharing their heart-wrenching stories about abuse and why they made the decision to stay or leave.
Robin Givens chimed in on the the viral movement in an Op-Ed for Time Magazine:
“People ask why I didn’t leave after the first time he hit me. But you feel such inner turmoil and confusion. You want it to be only one time. And for three days after that incident I did the right thing. I said: “Don’t call me. I never want to see you again.” But then you start taking his phone calls. Then he asks to see you in person, and you say yes to that. Then you have a big giant man crying like a baby on your lap and next thing you know, you’re consoling him. You’re the protector. One minute you’re running from him, the next you’re protecting him. And being a black woman you feel you want to protect your man. You think, the black man in America has it so difficult anyway, so now you’re turning them in. It feels like the ultimate betrayal. And maybe Janay Rice is feeling a little of that, though I don’t want to speak for her.”
It is so deep to actually see what happens to women. And we will see it now because there are cameras everywhere. I remember being dragged down a hallway in a hotel in the Bahamas on a night I thought I was really going to die. Today there would have been cameras in that hall. Someone would know. I would be believed. Now the story gets to tell itself.
Robin finally decided to leave once the abuse got so bad, she feared for her life. “I only left my marriage when I felt like I was going to die physically or die emotionally. It’s just amazing what becomes your normal. One day you wake up with a knife at your throat. Another day, your shoes are all torn up. But I did leave and I didn’t take one dime from my husband. I left my house, and I even left my underwear. I just wanted my life. I was very confident that I could make my way on my own. And I did.”
There’s no telling how much abuse Janay has suffered at the hands of her husband Ray Rice, and we may never know. We just hope that she is safe.
Read the full story, here.
Scroll through this gallery of other women who’ve survived domestic violence: