Why I stayed/left: An analysis of voices of intimate partner violence on social media

Jaclyn D. Cravens, Jason B. Whiting, Rola O. Aamar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


A common response to intimate partner violence is to ask victims why they stay in the abusive relationship. Unfortunately this can have the effect of blaming or holding the victim responsible for the abuser’s actions. Recently, social media brought attention to this issue following the highly publicized case of intimate partner violence (IPV) with NFL player Ray Rice and his fiancé. Twitter users responded to the media’s perceived victim blaming by posting their own stories of why they stayed or left abusive relationships. The purpose of this study was to conduct a qualitative content analysis of these Twitter postings. The Twitter hashtags generated N = 676 responses (“whyIstayed” n = 409; “whyIleft” n = 267) and these were examined to answer the following research questions: (1) what factors influence victims of IPV to stay in an abusive relationship? (2) What factors influence victims of IPV to leave an abusive relationship? 12 themes and 8 subthemes emerged that highlight the numerous factors that influence decisions about abusive relationships. Clinical implications and future research recommendations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-385
Number of pages14
JournalContemporary Family Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2015


  • Intimate partner violence
  • Social media
  • Victim blaming


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