February is Black History Month!

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. This February, we want to recognize the critical conversations of today that revolve around the nuances of domestic violence and black victims. According to the 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey, 41% of black women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime, compared to 31% of white women, 30% of hispanic women, and 15% of Asian Pacific Islander women. In fact, domestic violence is the number 1 health issue for balck women, as black women are 2.7 times more likely to die due to domestic violence than their white counterparts. 

As an organization that prides itself on supporting all victims/survivors, we know that these conversations are not optional: they present necessary considerations, and we invite you to read more about them. Below, you will find a series of quotes that can start the conversation, but be sure to click on their sources to read more.

“Black women, girls, and non-binary people are seldom seen as victims. Instead, they are seen as deserving of harm or unable to be harmed. This perpetuates a long legacy of impunity for violence against Black women, girls, and non-binary people…”

From The Legal System Has Failed Black Girls, Women, and Non-Binary Survivors of Violence, ACLU 2019

“When we do stand up for ourselves, we are labeled an ‘angry Black woman […] I know of several African American women who fought back and were punished professionally and personally because they were not seen as good victims. The constant labeling and invisiblizing, often at the same time, impacts our safety-seeking and our ability to obtain justice.”

From Zoe Flowers in Unique Issues Facing Black Women Dealing With Abuse, 2019

“In a world in which our masculinity is as much armor from an unjust society as it is a target because of it, having our manhood called into question might feel like a death sentence. But failing to accept our vulnerability and find the capacity to heal is actually the death sentence. The internalization of our emotions and experiences that we think is making us strong is, in fact, weakening us and encouraging a culture of silence in which assault against men, women and children can thrive.”

From Strong Black Men Are Victims Of Assault, Too, HuffPost 2018

“While rape culture and misogyny pervade our society and impact all survivors of violence, it is clear that Black women, girls, and non-binary people face additional biases and are disproportionately met with severe punishment […] It is imperative that Black survivors receive the love and support necessary to heal and rebuild —not suspicion and a cage.”

From The Legal System Has Failed Black Girls, Women, and Non-Binary Survivors of Violence, ACLU 2019

“A lot of people […] don’t know what victimhood looks like. You know, when most people think of domestic violence, they don’t think about the emotional abuse. They don’t think of the sexual abuse. They don’t think of financial abuse. They don’t think of all the other ways a woman can be abused […] When you think of a strong black woman, a lot of people don’t think of a victim as someone who fights back.”

From Joy Ingram, Education and Community Engagement Facilitator at Love and Joy, 2020

“We often assume that men ― especially those built like Terry Crews ― can’t be sexually assaulted. But if they are assaulted, the preservation of both their manhood and their heterosexuality requires their silence. This creates a culture of outward skepticism and internalized shame in which black men especially are deterred from revealing their abuse.[…] We must heal the pain in our own communities. Black men can no longer afford to be silent victims or silent bystanders.”

From Strong Black Men Are Victims Of Assault, Too, HuffPost 2018

“Black women also experience a stereotype where they are expected to be strong and unbreakable, and end up feeling like they can’t reach out for help because of it […] Where the appearance of mental strength would have been useful in combatting other forms of racism previously, with racial gaslighting it ‘is not serving us the same way it would have in the past.’ While ‘outcomes for women are improving, black women’s mental health is becoming worse and worse.’”

From The hidden victims of gaslighting, BBC 2020

“Because violence against women of color cannot be separated from racism and colonialism, it is necessary to develop remedies for violence that also counter racism and colonialism, particularly as they are manifested in state violence.”

From Dangerous Intersections, INCITE! 2020

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