Following the release of a video showing NFL running back Ray Rice punching his now-wife Janay Palmer, many women have spoken out about past experiences of abusive relationships in hopes of furthering the discussion of domestic violence.
Among them you can count talk show host Meredith Vieira, who candidly discussed on a show that aired Wednesday how she suffered through an abusive relationship.
“Every nine seconds, a woman is abused or assaulted in this country,” Vieira said on her show, which was taped Tuesday. “Every nine seconds this is going on.”
She spoke about the Twitter tags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, which include confessions by women who have experienced domestic violence.
“I was in an abusive relationship many, many years ago as a young woman,” Vieira admitted. “I want to explain to you why I stayed.”
She said the abuse for her started with an argument. She said the guy – whom she loved – grabbed her arm.
“I didn’t think a lot about it, and then it turned into pushing me into a wall and then it went beyond that to (his) actually taking my hand and grabbing my face and saying, ‘I could ruin your career if I wanted to, and no one would watch you,’” she said.
Vieira, whose parents are Portuguese-American, admitted that she heard a lot of people ask why a woman would stay in that sort of situation. One answer, the television host said, is someone who does not have the means to get out.
“(But) I had that. I had a job at the time, and I kept in this relationship,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of thinking about why, and I think part of it was fear. I was scared of him. I was scared if I tried to leave something worse could happen to me.”
She continued: “Part of it was guilt, because every time we would have a fight he would then start crying, and say, ‘I promise I won’t do it again,’ and I would feel like maybe I contributed somehow to this – and they are saying this about Ray Rice’s wife, that it takes two to tango.”
Vieira also shared one of the more violent experiences of the relationship.
“He threw me into a shower, naked with scalding water, and then he threw me outside into the hallway,” she said. “We lived in an apartment building, and I hid in the stairwell for two hours until he came again, crying, ‘I promise I won’t do this again.’”
Vieira said she stayed in the relationship until she was offered a job in another state and she felt she “had the ability to get away.”
She concluded, “If you are going through this, get yourself to a shelter, by all means tell somebody what’s going on, let somebody know. That’s just my experience with it, and I know it’s rampant in this country, and we all have to accept the fact that it’s not just an issue with the NFL – it’s an issue with all of our lives, and until we take it seriously more and more women are going to get abused.”