Closing the Cultural Divide in Abuse
While it may not be readily apparent to some people, black women experience domestic violence at even more alarming rates than women generally do. Statistics demonstrate that just over 40% of black women will experience some form of domestic violence throughout their lifetime. To put this into perspective, 31.5% of all women, in general, will experience some form of domestic violence in comparison. Also, black women are 2.5 times more likely to be murder by men than white women, and over 90% of these killings were committed by someone who knew the victim.
Many black women and advocates for the black community explain some barriers that prevent black women from seeking the help they need. One barrier is that many black women don't feel comfortable going to the authorities due to an unfavorable history with their response. Many black women believe that the police are not really there to help or protect them. Additionally, black women worry that if they were to contact the police, their abusive partners might suffer to a great degree at the police's hands. Some black women also fear that they will be judged by their community and seem like a traitor to their race. Instead, many Black Americans turn to faith-based practices, keeping them trapped in a cycle of abuse due to negative attitudes toward divorces.
There is a myriad of barriers that prevent many black women from seeking help in abusive relationships. Stereotypes, and their internalization, is undoubtedly one of them. Black women have come forward to say that they tend to be driven away from seeking additional help because they have internalized the idea that they must be strong. Black women also agree that if they stand up for themselves in a way they need to, they will be overly critiqued and will be labeled the “angry Black woman.” In fact, some women have even been professionally and personally punished because they didn't appear to be “good victims” Black women are also often irrationally sentenced to prison for defending themselves against their abusers.
There are many ways in which we can all help black survivors. First, we must identify and connect them to proper resources to transition into healthier, more secure lives. Second, we must spread education about the unique issues facing this population and how to best approach them.
Many different approaches can be taken to eliminate these issues at the start and help combat them overall. At the core of promoting healthy relationships in this community is the church's involvement, as many Black Community Members engage in religious or spiritual practices. The topic of domestic violence must become a candid conversation and openly condoned, rather than kept quiet and secret.
Reforming and better equipping the police forces to handle abusive situations in a favorable manner will also work to eradicate these problems and save lives. Shelters and social service groups also have room to improve their overall approach to black women as they sometimes have a history of not tending to their needs appropriately. Overall, installing programs to listen to and empower black survivors' voices is a much-needed development on a grand scale. This way, not only do black survivors have a healthy outlet with which they feel safe to express themselves, but young black Americans can be taught against forms of violence and how to combat abuse should they ever see it happen.
To learn more about how you can get involved to help this community or others who are working to overcome abuse, contact DeeCilla Comfort Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (623)440-6963.
Meet The Author
Emily Falcon is a Cuban-American student studying pre-med at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL. She is also an undergraduate Research Assistant for Gulf War Illness clinical trials at NSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.