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Earlier this week, Irish fitness blogger and mother-of-two Emma Murphy posted a heartbreaking video to Facebook that went viral immediately, and continues to be shared days later, sparking an international conversation about domestic violence.
In the nearly six-minute video, 26-year-old Murphy, her face bruised, tearfully describes the volatile relationship she’s had with her now ex-boyfriend, the father of her two children, and she describes in detail a violent encounter she says happened last Friday.
Murphy tells TODAY that she posted the video, which has now been viewed more than 8 million times, to bolster her own courage, and had no idea it would inspire so many supportive and positive messages.
“It really touched my heart that I reached so many people, women and men. And so many people said that I helped them,” she says. “I have learned that I am actually stronger than I thought I was.”
In the video, Murphy, who lives in Dublin, goes into details about the event that allegedly happened last Friday. After hearing rumors of her ex-boyfriend’s infidelity, Murphy visited him at the gym he owns to confront him. As the two argued in the parking lot, she threw his cell phone. That’s when she says he punched her — and not for the first time. The couple’s 18-month-old son, Xavier, watched the episode from the back seat of their car, she says, and soon began crying and screaming.
“The minute I got in the car and I looked at [Xavier’s] face and it killed me. I went straight to the police,” Murphy tells TODAY. “He had no remorse and no children should be around that.”
Her friends and family had urged her in the past to leave her former partner, Murphy says, but she felt she couldn’t because she wanted to have a life with the father of her children.
After last Friday, she says, she knew it was time to leave.
“I knew it was finally over then. I would walk away then. I wouldn’t be weak and I’d get some strength,” she tells TODAY.
Her ex-boyfriend, Francis Usanga, 28, told the Irish Sun that he pushed Murphy but did not punch her. As for her bruised eye? He says that happened during the fall.
"I know nobody will believe me but I am not a violent person. I never, ever want to hurt anyone," he told the the paper.
Police are now investigating the alleged assault, according to a report in the Independent.
Thousands of comments on her Facebook post expressed support for her bravery, as well as many women and men sharing their own experiences.
I'm so glad I got out of my domestic abuse relationship when I did, people that don't go through it don't realise how hard it is to leave or be willing to put up with it for the sake of your children," wrote Lauren Beaumont."Total respect for the bravery of this video!!!"
"I'm 35 years old now, I grew up with a violent dad in the house who literally kicked my mother, me and my sister around for many years, physical and emotional abuse," wrote Dave Fields. "it took my mother over 11 years to do what you did.... but it was a different era then, you didn't just leave your hubby for violence in them days - so my mother was really brave doing what she did at the time - just like you."
Ruth Glenn, executive director for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says that she found the video moving and sees is as a positive awareness piece.
“The … thing I find most poignant about her video [is] she absolutely explains how difficult it was to leave, subtly reminding us how difficult it is to go,” Glenn says.
While Murphy made the right choice for herself, Glenn says that many victims of domestic violence can’t leave.
“Every victim, every survivor, man, woman, they need to make their own assessment about their safety. They know better than anyone else when it is good to leave,” she says.
Glenn says the conversation about domestic violence often focuses on why the victim won’t leave. She says instead people should focus on holding the abuser accountable instead of blaming the victim.
“I think the more we just talk about domestic violence and we move from victim blaming to perpetrator accountability, the less shame [victims] will feel,” she says.
Posting a public account about domestic abuse could potentially put people in danger and Glenn advises people to make safe choices. She does recommend that people who are in domestic violence situations call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233 or check out Domestic Shelters website for more information and resources.
“This woman was brave. She was not only brave by positing this video, but she was brave to endure what she endured and she was brave making her personal decision about leaving,” Glenn says.