Today is Valentine’s Day. Dinner reservations have been made and the night will bring flowers, candy, and cards. For some women however, the dinner will be thrown to the floor in anger, cards will be ripped to pieces, and nothing sweet will pass her lips. For them, the night means walking on egg shells in fear and fists driven into her chest and back. For some, the one they love, the one they call husband, boyfriend, or partner is the one who inflicts the most pain. Pain borne out of insecurity. Pain borne out of misplaced blame. Pain borne out of pure evil. Love is not supposed to hurt. But the chances are you know a woman that is in an abusive relationship and the beatings have become her norm.
Like many crimes, blacks are disproportionately represented as victims of domestic violence and intimate partner violence. Black women are 35% more likely to be victimized by a partner than white women (NCADV, 2017). Black women are also three times more likely to be killed by an intimate partner. Among black women ages15-35, domestic violence homicide is one of the leading causes of death. Love is not supposed to hurt. Love is not supposed to hit. Love is not supposed to kill. This is not love. Sadly, these victims often suffer in silence. They do not tell because they truly love their partners. They do not tell because they are embarrassed. They do not tell because leaving may mean loss of financial support. And they do not tell because they do not want to hand their man over to the police, an institution that has historically brutalized black men.
Domestic violence and intimate partner violence is such a complex issue that often those on the periphery resort to victim blaming. Further in some communities of color this phenomenon is normalized with abusers given a pass. This behavior is not normal. Using the body of a woman as a punching bag to work out one’s anger is wrong, monstrous, and criminal. The black community needs to confront this issue and bring it out into the open. Increasing awareness, knowing the signs of abuse, and providing access to resources for victims and their support system are key. These statistics no longer need to be our reality. Our young girls and women deserve more and need our help. Let’s end this now. Change the norm. Know the signs. Acknowledge the behavior. Condemn abusers and help the victims.
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The National Domestic Violence Hotline may be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Jones, F. (2014). Why black women struggle more with domestic violence. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/3313343/ray-rice-black-women-domestic-violence/.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (2014). Domestic violence fact sheet.
Colorado: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.