Following the release of leaked security camera footage showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice brutalizing then-fiancée, now-wife Janay Rice, countless survivors of domestic violence took to social media on Monday night to share their stories, using the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. Each brief story is powerful and humanizing, and offers a vital look at the difficulty and strength required to escape an abusive relationship.
Well, maybe not each story. In the midst of an important moment of solidarity for so many abuse survivors, the DiGiorno Pizza Twitter account chimed in with an insensitive, inappropriate addition, tweeting: "#WhyIStayed You had pizza." Here's a screenshot of the tweet (via Neetzan Zimmerman)
DiGiorno later issued an apology, pleading ignorance of the hasghtag's significance:
A million apologies. Did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.
— DiGiorno Pizza (@DiGiornoPizza) September 9, 2014
First, a lesson for corporate social media: Figure out what you're capitalizing on before you attempt to capitalize on it. Second, a lesson for all of us: DiGiorno might have played this off as sheer ignorance, and that's part of a larger problem. Maybe the social media manager really didn't look to see what the hashtag was about, as he or she later explained. But this wouldn't be the first time that a person or many people knowingly made light of victimization, devaluing the experiences of surivors' lived experiences. It certainly wouldn't be the first time someone poked fun at domestic abuse, or Janay Rice's abuse in particular. Those complete misreadings of huge social problems are, unfortunately, no joke.