Are Black Women Struggling More with Domestic violence?

The current national conversation about domestic violence in the U.S. has revealed that Black women are the fastest growing victims of intimate partner violence homicide. 

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Homicide is the leading cause of death for black women aged 15 to 35.” The advocacy site, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) reports that 70% of Black women who are murdered are killed by their intimate partners or family members.

Some claim that racist practices in the criminal justice system have resulted in disproportionately high rates of arrests and incarceration among black people.

According to SAVE, “Sixty percent of women in state prison for killing men had been battered by those men.”

The fact that mass incarceration is one of the reasons why Black women are 3 times more likely than White women to be victims of domestic violence makes me question why this information isn’t discussed more frequently when the topic of domestic abuse is broached in public discourse. 

The reality is that African American women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence. 

In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that as many as 50% of black women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Because the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence doesn't collect data on specific ethnic groups, we can't say for sure how much higher the rates are among black women, however, we do know that activists and advocates have been pushing for a greater focus on this issue for a long time. 

The National Domestic Violence hotline reports that calls from Black women have increased by 20% since 2005.

Black women face many barriers to seeking help and leaving abusive relationships. 

In addition to fear, anger and shame, they may worry about issues related to immigration status, housing, job security and finances. 

They may also struggle with language barriers or not feel comfortable reaching out because they don't have a support system to fall back on.

One thing is clear: DV/IPV is a serious issue that impacts too many people – regardless of gender or race – and deserves our attention and support.

According to the Department of Justice, among Black women, 35% have been victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. 

That's compared to 29% of white women.

In 2010, the CDC found that one in three Black women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. In a survey conducted by the Black Women's Health Imperative and reported by Essence Magazine , it was found that ¾ of Black women have experienced physical violence from a partner and 45% have experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime.

Black women are abused more often than White women, Hispanic women and Asian women. We are abused at a higher rate than any other race in the United States.

The reasons Black women suffer disproportionately from abuse are complex because 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. For Black women, a strong sense of cultural affinity and loyalty to community and race renders many silent.

Many Black women also feel that they may be punished for making their abusive situations public. And the fact is that some of us have been. In a video that went viral last year, a Black woman by the name of Ciara Taylor was charged with assault after she punched her abusive husband in the face. 

She was later acquitted of all charges. However, this is not always the case, as many women have been arrested and even sent to jail for defending themselves from their abusers.

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