1 in 3 women experience domestic violence, so Fox News shouldn't trivialise it

Matthew Champion@matthewchampion
Tuesday 09 September 2014 18:00
news

It should not come as a massive surprise to anyone that something incredibly insensitive and crass was said on Fox News. But on yesterday's Fox and Friends, presenter Brian Kilmeade outdid himself by saying those who do not leave their abusive partners sent a "terrible message" to other women.

knocking out his then fiancée Janay Rice (neé Palmer) emerged

The incident took place in February with Rice being arrested after security footage from outside the lift showed him dragging an unconscious Janay out of it.

Three months later he pleaded not guilty to a charge of third-degree aggravated assault on the basis he would apply for a pre-trial intervention programme that sees first-time offenders have charges dropped if they complete a one-year course of counselling.

At the time Rice, who was initially handed just a two-game ban, issued a bungled apology and his club sent out this (now-deleted) tweet: "Janay Rice deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident."

Fast forward to yesterday on Fox News; where Kilmeade followed up his "terrible message" remark to quip "I think the message is, take the stairs".

His co-presenter Steve Doocy chipped in to add: "The message is, when you're in an elevator, there's a camera."

Around the same time, women began sharing their experiences of domestic violence on Twitter, using the hashtags #whyistayed and #whyileft.

It is thought the first hashtag was started by writer Beverly Gooden in the US.

In a message that was repeated many times over, one woman wrote: "Because he isolated me from friends and family and I had no one to turn to when the abuse started."

Another wrote: "I really thought it was my fault & it really would happen only the one time (it wasn't, it didn't)."

Under the 'why I left' hashtag, one woman tweeted only: "Because I knew he would kill me eventually."

The hashtags demonstrated the power of social media to highlight domestic abuse as an issue and also to help women who feel like they have nowhere to turn to.

But they were also as open to abuse as anything else, with people tweeting remarks that glorified abuse, while at least one brand perfectly illustrated the ignorance that often goes hand-in-hand with the issue.

The scale and complexity of the issue, something that sometimes cannot be articulated in 140 characters or on newsroom sofas, can be illustrated in the statement that Janay Rice put out on Instagram after her husband was sacked by his club.

I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I'm mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it's reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that [the] media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass [off] for all his life just togain ratings is horrific.

THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don't you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you've succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!

Update: On Today's Fox and Friends, Kilmeade said: "Comments that were made during this story made some feel like we are taking the situation too lightly. We are not, we were not. Domestic violence is a very serious issue to us, I can assure you."

More: The whole, shameful story of the NFL's domestic abuse scandal

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