What African American Women Want You to Know About Domestic Violence
by Kristen Paruginog
What African American women want you to know about domestic violence.
“Society has taught us that we are aggressive, rude and unyielding. We have come to believe these notions and convinced ourselves that we caused the abuse.”
In order to have a realistic discussion about domestic violence, we have to address the racially inequities African American woman still face today. In America, where I fled my violent marriage as a black victim, there was no escape from the systemic imbalances that made leaving the abuse more difficult than it already was. Issues such as discrimination and economic inequality are realities that black women must face, which alters their path to freedom.
– Beverly Gooden, Visionary of #WhyIStayed, Founder of the EllaMae Foundation, and the 2016 Michel Rose Advocate of Change Recipient
“God, church, friendship, and love is the reason I escaped. Do not hold everything in. Your family and friends can see it, don’t be embarrassed, don’t be scared. The other side is so beautiful. So freeing. So satisfying to reflect on the past. You’re strong. You’re good enough. Everyone’s journey is different; you will get there at your own time.”
- We are raised that what happens in house stays in house. This conditioning of the mind prevents us from seeking additional help.
- In our community, there tends to be more cases of domestic violence that pits mothers and daughters against each together.
- The odds are against us. We are black and female, so when we get our “knight in shining armor” we endure what is necessary (the abuse) to portray the illusion to the world that we have arrived and that we are good enough.
- As black woman, we don’t believe that we are being abused. We don’t want to be a victim so we tell ourselves that we “fight” our spouse/significant other, although we never win.
- We birthed this nation, were forced to breast feed our slave master’s children, and yet we’re unable to drink from the same water fountains as Caucasians. We have been programmed that we don’t deserve anything better. We were abused by the people we nurtured.
- As young black girls and women we need to realize that we shouldn’t idolize a person or a couple that you think you know. Putting them on a pedestal only adds more pressure for the person to stay in the relationship. Young girls have to start realizing that no one is perfect. No couple is seamless. Social media is not always the truth; you must also look for guidance within your personal community.
- We are the highest population of Christianity. We feel a sense of security in God and believe that God will take care of us and change our abuser. Therefore, we don’t get a divorce or leave the relationship; we simply pray.
- We have been conditioned by the church, bible, our families, and society that the man should be the breadwinner. He should take care of you and your family. He needs to be in charge of the accounts. “You’ll never have to work again a day in your life”, sparks no red flags in our community. We need to be taught the importance of being able to be independent, yet still have a partnership with your significant other. Our culture leads to an increase of controlling relationships and woman being dependent on her partner’s finances. Black women have to start understanding how falling into these “traditional roles” can trap us.
- Mental abuse needs to be brought to light, in the African American community. It is not brought up during our upbringing. We are told to never stay with a man that hits you with his fist, but are not told to leave a man who hits you with his words. Mental abuse is a hole that is hard to get out of. No one thinks saying “stupid” is hurtful. I lost myself.
- Domestic violence causes far too many young black children to step up as the father or mother in their household. I can barely support myself, let alone my siblings and mother.
- We must know that, no matter what you do, how much you change, or what you give up for them it’s never going to be enough. Their negativity is THEIR insecurity, NOT yours.
- Unfortunately, due to hundreds of years of oppression, racism, being over looked, forgotten, and ignored we tend to have less access to financial resources. There are no inheritances, windfalls, emergency funds, or even parents financially capable of helping many of us escape, relocate, or give us time to raise on our feet once again.
- Although the police may be the first thought to call, we tend to not feel comfort with the law enforcement. In many cases they cause the destruction within our community. People forget that the “Black lives Matter” movement is to shine a light on the abuse, murders, and injustices that have been plaguing African Americans. We cannot deem the light being shined on us, by adding “All lives Matter.”
This blog was written by African American women around the country who are passionate about speaking out against domestic violence. To honor the African American community, we are giving women the platform to educate our readers about a very silent topic – domestic violence. We would like to thank: Alex Young (Texas) for coordinating and interviewing women for this special article, Santina Proctor (North Carolina), Mori Montgomery (Georgia), Beverly Gooden (East Coast), and students at Texas A&M for being a part of this!