By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Beverly Gooden, an award-winning social advocate, public speaker and creator of the viral domestic violence movement, “Why I Stayed,” will speak at Cal State San Bernardino’s “Conversations on Diversity” speaker series on Thursday, Feb. 25.
The event will be held at the campus’s Santos Manuel Student Union Events Center from noon- 1:30 p.m. Sponsored by the University Diversity Committee, the public is invited to attend the free discussion. Daily parking is $6 per vehicle.
“I stayed because my pastor told me that God hates divorce. It didn’t cross my mind that God might hate abuse, too,” Gooden said.
Through the extraordinary power of storytelling and social media, Gooden, as a survivor of domestic violence, established herself as a leading activist in the modern era when she created and introduced the hashtag “#WhyIStayed,” which led to a global movement against domestic violence.
“I believe in storytelling. I believe in the power of shared experience. I believe that we find strength in community,” said Gooden. “That is why I created #WhyIStayed.”
In the wake of several high profile incidents, including the 2014 video of former football player Ray Rice hitting his now-wife, Janay Rice, Gooden’s hashtag “#WhyIStayed” presented a viable channel for people to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way and on a global scale.
It soon became a social media outlet for victims to explain why they had not left their abusive partner.
“On my Twitter feed, everyone was asking the same question: ‘Why did Janay Rice stay with Ray Rice?’ People were saying, ‘Oh, she must want his money,’ or some variation. Nobody asked why he hit her. The blame was on her as opposed to him,” said Gooden.
One hour after her tweet, Gooden received more than a thousand replies from victims sharing their stories and explaining their decisions.
Featured on leading media outlets including ABC’s “Good Morning America,” NBC’s “The Today Show,” CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post and TIME Magazine, Gooden has simultaneously increased awareness while providing a relatable role model for victims and survivors. With important insight on domestic violence sensitivity, victims’ rights, and dating violence, she offers valuable messages of hope, opportunity, and resilience.
“A woman tweeted that she stayed because her word was her only evidence,” said Gooden. “And that is the story of a lot of us. A lot of women don’t report it and as time goes on, the violence becomes your new normal. You don’t even know what a healthy relationship looks like anymore.”
In 2015, Gooden founded the Ella Mae Foundation, a non-profit organization that “takes a firm stand against the epidemic of violence against women,” according to its website. It provides women in abusive relationships with “bolt bags” filled with toiletries and other basic necessities for victims to escape their abusive relationships. Victims may request a bag at no cost at the Ella Mae Foundation website (www.ellamaefoundation.org).
She currently serves as a member of the National Advisory Council for the One Love Foundation (www.joinonelove.org), which helps bring awareness of relationship violence by educating, empowering, and activating campus communities in a movement for change.
In addition, Gooden is an ambassador to the national “NO MORE” campaign (www.nomore.org) to raise public awareness of and combat domestic violence. Its mission is to engage bystanders into action who witness incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault. Launched in March 2013 by a coalition of leading advocacy groups, service providers, and the U.S. Department of Justice, the “NO MORE” campaign is supported by hundreds of national and local groups and by thousands of individuals, organizations and universities, including CSUSB’s “Not Anymore” campaign.
Relationship abuse affects 1-in-3 women, yet Gooden believes that society blames the victims of abuse and questions the victim’s decision to stay in an abusive relationship. “I hope those tweeting using #WhyIStayed find a voice, find love, find compassion, and find hope,” she said.
Gooden earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from Hampton University and a master’s degree in social justice from Loyola University, Chicago.
Since 2005, the CSUSB University Diversity Committee has presented “Conversations on Diversity” speaker series on topics of diversity and inclusion each academic quarter to facilitate dialogue among students, staff, faculty and the community. Visit the University Diversity Committee website at http://diversity.csusb.edu for more information.
Set in the foothills of the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, CSUSB is a preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity in inland Southern California. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015-2016, CSUSB serves more than 20,000 students each year and graduates about 4,000 students annually.
For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.