The National Domestic Violence Hotline https://www.thehotline.org/
William “Bill” Ames
May 20,1971 March 5, 1995
Domestic and intimate partner violence occur in everyone’s life in some form or fashion. You may know someone, or even be a victim yourself, it’s really a “family secret in our Black Communities”. While I’m not suggesting that all Black people think and function in similar enough ways that we could all be labeled simply as one “community,” I do know we have pervasive problems that require nuanced discourse — especially in light of the national conversation about domestic abuse that has erupted over the last week.
I myself have fallen prey in many of my family lives, parents, children, and co-worker, and friends.
When we discuss domestic violence, it is often assumed that the victims are women. And the statistics are truly traumatic. The less-told story is that a striking number of men are victims, suffering physical, mental and sexual abuse in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships. According to the CDC, one in four adult men in the U.S. will become a victim of domestic violence during his lifetime. That’s upwards of three million male domestic violence victims every year, or one man in America abused by an intimate or domestic partner every 37.8 seconds.
Highlighting these statistics is not meant to downplay in any way domestic violence among women. It is, however, intended to add to the growing conversation that anyonecan be the victim of domestic abuse and everyone who needs protection deserves access to it.
Black women, it’s an even bigger problem: Black women are almost three times as likely to experience death as a result of DV/IPV than White women and while Black women only make up 8% of the population, 22% of homicides that result from DV/IPV happen to Black Women and 29% of all victimized women, making it one of the leading causes of death for Black women ages 15 to 35. Statistically, we experience sexual assault and DV/IPV at disproportionate rates and have the highest rates of intra-racial violence against us than any other group. We are also less likely to report or seek help when we are victimized.
The more conman reasons that Black women suffer disproportionately from abuse are complex. Racism and sexism are two of the biggest obstacles that Black women in America face. But because many Black women and men believe racism is a bigger issue than sexism, Black women tend to feel obligated to put racial issues ahead of sex-based issues and hide the fact they are beaten or even wanting to protect their abuser.
For Black women, a strong sense of cultural affinity and loyalty to community and race renders many of us silent, so our stories often go untold. One of the biggest related impediments is our hesitation in trusting the police or the justice system. As Black people, we don’t always feel comfortable surrendering “our own” to the treatment of a racially biased police state and as women, we don’t always feel safe calling police officers who may harm us instead of helping us. And when we do speak out or seek help, we too often experience backlash from members of our communities who believe we are airing out dirty laundry and making ourselves look bad in front of White people.