Twitter takes on domestic violence with #WhyIStayed hashtag amid Ray Rice fallout

Twitter users who have experienced domestic violence have shared their stories of survival using the #WhyIStayed hashtag since Monday. Yet after DiGiorno Pizza used it to crack a joke, the brand spent much of Monday night and Tuesday morning apologizing.

In the wake of TMZ revealing surveillance footage showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée Janay Palmer, Twitter users have shared their stories of abuse and survival on the platform through the #WhyIStayed hashtag.

The hashtag #WhyIStayed has been a trending topic since Monday. Some organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, have used it to reach out to victims. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics released Friday, 31.5% of women have been physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.

Author Beverly Gooden has been credited with starting the #WhyIStayed hashtag Monday morning, according to Cleveland.com. On her website, she wrote that after seeing so many people question Palmer, now Janay Rice, for not leaving her husband, the Ohio-based author wanted to share her story.

Sportswriters have also taken on what they see as the National Football League’s problem with blaming the victim. For instance, Yahoo’s Eric Adelson used the phrase "she was victimized" to start a new paragraph six times in his story posted Monday afternoon.

Not everyone used the #WhyIStayed hashtag as it was intended. Among a bevy of painful stories and tweets of support, one brand missed the mark completely. DiGiorno Pizza used the hashtag to promote its product, apparently not looking into why the topic was trending. The frozen pizza maker’s social media squad quickly deleted the tweet and spent much of Monday night apologizing personally to individuals.

Janay Rice used another social media platform, Instagram, to respond to yesterday’s news. The Baltimore Sun reported her statement "was intended to be released publicly." Her Instagram account is now private.

In the post, she said she feels like she had "a horrible nightmare."

"No one knows the pain that [the] media has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing," she wrote. "If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels."

Fallout from the incident continued to take place after Rice was released by the Ravens on Monday and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him indefinitely. A local pizza restaurant in Baltimore offered fans free pizza in exchange for his jersey, while the Ravens’ Twitter account said the team will allow fans to swap them for the jerseys of other players.

According to BuzzFeed, Dick’s Sporting Goods stores in Baltimore were asked to remove Rice jerseys, and a spokesman for Rutgers, Rice’s alma mater, told the site Rice will no longer be shown in videos during home games.

Rice will also be ousted from EA Sports’ Madden NFL 15 game. BuzzFeed noted the company also removed former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez following his indictment on murder charges last year.

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