Black Women & Domestic Violence

February 26, 2020

 

The statistics on domestic violence in the United States are disturbing.  1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.  Each year, domestic violence is estimated to affect 10 million people in the United States. 

 

Yet for Black women, the numbers are even more stark.  More than 40% of Black women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, according to the Institute of Women’s Policy Research’s Status of Black Women in the United States. In comparison, 31.5% of all women will experience domestic violence. A report from the National Center for Victims of Crime found that 53.8% of Black women had experienced psychological abuse, while 41.2% of Black women had experienced physical abuse. 

 

More disturbingly, Black women are 2.5 times more likely to be murdered by men than white women.  In the overwhelming majority of these cases — 92% — the person who killed them knew their victim.  56% of these homicides were committed by a current or former intimate partner.  Nearly all —92% — of these killings were intra-racial, which means that they were committed by a Black man against a Black woman.

 

With statistics like these, the Black Women’s Health Project determined that domestic violence is the number one health issue facing Black women.  

 

What, then, can be done about the epidemic of violence facing Black women? The first and perhaps most important thing that we can all do is address the root causes of domestic violence, such as the objectification and degradation of women in media, rape culture, harmful gender norms, the pay gap, and other forms of inequality..  The underlying causes of domestic violence are the same for all women — and are often more pronounced for Black women. By taking on these issues directly, we can reduce the incidence of domestic violence for all women — and in particular, Black women who are even more impacted by these factors.

 

We can also work to combat racism.  We know that one of the main reasons that Black women do not report or seek help for domestic violence is racism. By championing anti-racist policies and challenging racism in our personal lives, we can dismantle one of the major hurdles to reducing the incidence of domestic violence in the Black community. 

 

At the same time, we should focus on intersectionality — which means acknowledging the way our different identities intersect. For example, a Black woman will experience domestic violence differently because they face both racism and sexism.  A woman with a disability may face an additional challenge in getting access to services. By being mindful of these realities, we can better understand and advocate for equality.

 

At Blackburn Center, we provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence and other types of crimes and abuse.  Our services are offered to all women, children and men — and to people of every race.  Reach out today at 1-888-832-2272 to learn more about how we can help, or simply to speak to a trained crisis counselor.

 

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