Meredith Vieira is sharing her own personal story in a candid fashion—in hopes of helping others who are victims of domestic abuse. 

Appearing on her eponymous talk show on Wednesday, the 60-year-old television personality shared a harrowing statistic, telling the audience "every nine seconds a woman is abused or assaulted in this country." She then revealed that she too suffered in an abusive relationship. She cited the recent Twitter trend—the #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft campaign—which encourages women to share the real and often heartbreaking confessions of domestic violence. 

Inspired by the stories on social media and in light of the NFL fallout following the shocking video of Ray Rice punching then-girlfriend (and now wife) Janay Palmar, Vieira chose to share why she stayed in an abusive relationship "many, many years ago as a young woman" after noting that domestic abuse is a "very, very complicated issue." 

"It started out with, we would have a fight and he'd just sort of grab my arm," Vieira recalled. "You know, I didn't think a lot about it. And then it turned into pushing me against the wall, then it went beyond that to actually taking his hand and grabbing my face and saying, 'I could ruin your career if I wanted to and no one would want you.'" 

Meredith Vieira

Courtesy Meredith

Despite the warning signs, Vieira chose to stay in the relationship and explained why it was so difficult to leave. 

"This is going on, I'm a smart woman. A lot of people say, 'Who would stay in that situation?' Somebody maybe doesn't have the wherewithal to get out, the means to get out—I had that. I had a job at the time, and I kept in this relationship," she said. "I've done a lot of thinking about why. I think part of it was fear. I was scared of him and scared if I tried to leave, something worse could happen to me. Part of it was guilt because every time we'd have a fight he would then start crying and say, 'I promise I won't do it again.'

"I would feel like maybe I contributed somehow to this. They're saying this about Ray Rice's wife, you know, that it takes two to tango," she added, seemingly referring to Janay Palmar's disturbing comments she made in a press conference held shortly after the altercation during which she said, "I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night."

As the relationship continued, the violence only escalated, culminating in a horrific night she detailed as the audience gasped in horror. 

Meredith Vieira, The View


"And then there was the night—we shared an apartment—and he threw me into a shower, naked, in scalding water, and then he threw me outside into the hallway," Vieira shared. "We lived in an apartment building and I hid in a stairwell for two hours until he came, again, crying. [He said], 'I promise I won't do this again.'"

Still, Vieira could not find the courage to get out of the relationship. 

"I continued to stay in that relationship until I was offered a job in another state," the former Today host admitted. "That's where I felt I had the ability to get away...It's not so easy to just get away. You think it would be, but it is not."

"Having said that, if my daughter Lily, who is now 21, was in an abusive relationship, even if she thought she loved this man I would say, ‘Go, just go,'" the mother of three continued before concluding, "Tell somebody what's going on, let somebody know," encouraging victims to "call the hotline" and "get yourself to a shelter." 

"It's [domestic violence] rampant in this country and we all have to accept that it's not just an issue with the NFL," she said. "Until we take it seriously, more and more women are going to get abused." 

For more information on domestic abuse or to get help for yourself or someone you love, visit the website for The National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233.

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