Amid the ongoing domestic violence controversy surrounding NFL player Ray Rice, Meredith Vieira opened up about her own past struggle in an abusive relationship as part of the #WhyIStayed movement.
“I want to explain to you why I stayed,” she told her audience in a pre-taped segment that aired Wednesday on her talk show.
During the segment, Vieira described how difficult it was to leave a former boyfriend who physically and mentally abused her. She stayed with the man partly out of fear, but also out of guilt, she said.
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“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,” she said. “And they are saying this about Ray Rice's wife, that it takes two to tango.”
The situation escalated one evening when the man threw her naked into a scalding shower, and then threw her outside into the hallway of their apartment building where she was forced to hide in a stairwell for two hours until he came, she revealed.
The video of Ray Rice hitting his now-wife, Janay Rice, prompted many on social media to ask the question of why she stayed with him. A victim of domestic violence, Beverly Gooden, explained why she stayed and began the Twitter campaign #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, motivating other victims of domestic violence to share their stories.
The national conversation has unfolded ahead of Domestic Violence Awareness month in October.
“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,” Vieira said.
Despite knowing how difficult it can be to escape an abusive relationship, Vieira said she would advise her daughter Lily, 21, to leave.
“We didn't have shelters when this was happening to me. There was no hotline. I would say call the hotline," Vieira explained.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, you can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224. The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence has information about keeping yourself safe.