2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Jasmine Linabary

Emporia State University
“#WhyIStayed three years and $30 million”: Sport and domestic violence in the context of hashtag activism

In September 2014, TMZ released security footage of NFL Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice physically assaulting his then fiancé, Janay. The public reaction was swift, including legacy media outlets questioning why Janay, who had married Ray by that point, would stay in an abusive relationship. Media responses included victim blaming, the reproduction of myths regarding domestic violence, and overall ignorance regarding the barriers that victims/survivors must overcome to leave. In response, survivor Bev Gooden tweeted the reasons why she stayed in an abusive relationship, using the hashtag #WhyIStayed. The hashtag went viral, with many victims/survivors sharing their experiences and explaining the reasons why they stayed or left. Drawing on a qualitative analysis of over 50,000 tweets using the hashtag, #WhyIStayed, as well as interviews with individuals who participated in the hashtag, we interrogate the potentials of social media to amplify voices often marginalized or silenced in legacy media, the criminal justice system, and advocacy venues. In doing so, we examine the role sports play as a catalyst to wider social conversations regarding social problems that have been culturally stigmatized, and the implications for broader understandings of domestic violence in sport.