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Domestic violence survivor explains why victims stay with their abusers

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DENVER -- A survivor of domestic violence explains the reasons why women stay with their abusers after the very public knock-out punch Ray Rice planted on his then-fiancee’s face.

The vicious punch forced one of the NFL’s best running backs out of the game.  And now, many ask, why his wife, Janay, is still standing by her man?

"It's really a feeling of not being in control anymore," said Kristiana, a survivor of domestic violence, who asked we not use her last name. She also now employed with the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

She says the video marks that moment when abuse in a couple’s relationship “overgrows its container” and other people are now faced with what was once hidden.

An Instagram post by Janay shows her reluctance to place blame on her husband.

She writes: "No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted (opinions) from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret everyday is a horrible thing.”

She also accepted blame during a press conference in May.

"I do deeply regret the role I played in the incident that night," she told the media.

The victim internalizing blame is common, said Kristiana. So often, she said the abuser makes them a scapegoat for problems in the relationship.

So why stay?

"It's very hard to leave when it's been everything you've been investing in to that point. It's a huge decision," said Kristiana.

She said it took her three years to leave an eight-year marriage.

She said she stayed for the same reasons people stay in non-abusive relationships.

"I loved him. I loved my children. I loved being in a family. I loved staying home and taking care of the kids. I loved being a dedicated mom and wife,” she said.

Other reasons women stay are include cultural reasons, status and fear, Kristiana said.

The Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence hopes the video sparks conversations and solutions about this kind of abuse -- especially with blaming the victim.

"They are told by society, ‘Why don't you leave?’ Instead of asking the perpetrator, ‘Why do you choose to abuse someone you purport to love?’" said Amy Pohl with the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Pohl said the NFL is headed in the right direction with its policy changes to include: A lifetime ban from the league after a second offense, and educational programs about domestic violence, that includes information on what is a healthy relationship.

If you are a victim of abuse and want help, you can call The National Domestic Violence Hotline any time day or night at: 1-800-799-7233  (SAFE).

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