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The Secret…Intimate Partner Violence

By: Kandee Lewis, IVN Guest Columnist

Last week a friend and community partner, Michelle Avan was killed! I knew her to be kind, thoughtful, and brilliant. A mother, grandmother, mentor, and well-respected, prominent, Black Female Bank Executive! 

People are struggling to understand why and how this could happen, especially to Michelle! It came from left field, unexpected. Not her! We can’t wrap our heads around this senseless violence. 

 I was with her one week before she was murdered. We laughed and talked, thankful to be in each other’s company after almost two years, thanks to COVID-19. We scheduled time to meet in September to discuss working with Black Girls in our programs, helping them realize and achieve their goals, and live life abundantly. 

I saw her at an event my company, Positive Results Center (PRC) was supporting. I was asked to briefly speak about our work. Ironically, I spoke about “The Secret.”

Every Woman has a Secret! Some know this secret intimately, and some carry someone else’s secret. Fear, shame, blame, and denial keeps the secret a secret. The secret is Dating, Domestic, Intimate or Interpersonal Violence. No matter what you call it, it’s all violence, and often ends up deadly.

We’ll use Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) for this conversation, explicitly focusing on Black Women.

IPV is rooted in Power and Control! IPV doesn’t discriminate on age, ethnicity, gender, professional or financial status.

This non-exhaustive list is designed to help people understand what violence is, how it shows up, and what you can do to support someone! 

The Facts:

  • Every 9 seconds, a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten. 
  • The U.S. Census Bureau, estimates 20.6 million black women and girls live in the country; about 7% of U.S. population. 
  • 29.1% of African American females are victimized by IPV (including Rape, physical assault, or stalking) often predator ISN’T prosecuted (Women of Color Network)
  • Black Women experience significantly higher rates of psychological abuse (humiliation, insults, name-calling, and coercive control) (Institute for Women’s Policy Research)
  • African American females experience IPV 35% higher than white females, 2.5 times higher than women of other races. 
  • Racism, sexism, sizeism, uglification, shame, fear, reprisal, past/present trauma, lack of respect and trust makes Black Women less likely to report abuser or violence 

Forms of Violence 

  • Physical Abuse – Hitting, Spitting, Choking
  • Sexual Abuse – Inappropriately or without permission touching or kissing, saying sexually suggestive things
  • Stalking – following you; going through phone or personal items
  • Emotional – Blaming, accusation, isolation, name calling
  • Spiritual – Using bible, God, or a higher power against you
  • Verbal – Cussing you; harassment
  • Financial – Controlling finances (Unreasonable allowances, checking odometer)
  • Social Media – Stalking, Harassment; Impersonation
  • Medical – Not providing medicine, doctor’s appointment, birth control

Reasons We Don’t Report Abuse

  • We won’t be Believed
  • Fear of being shamed, blamed, rejected and alienated 
  • What happens in the house, stays in the house
  • Disgust/distrust of shelters and intervention services that don’t serve needs of Black Women/our children
  • Violence is learned behavior
  • Need financial support

Are You In An Abusive Relationship?

  • You’re afraid
  • They’ve threatened to hurt/harm you, your children, family, pets.
  • They’ve hurt/harmed you, your children, family, pets
  • They blow up or blame you for everything
  • They cuss you, talk about you, intentionally destroy your self-esteem
  • Isolate you from family and friends 
  • They control finances (even if you’re the breadwinner)

Things You Need To Know About Domestic Violence

  • Violence and abuse begin in the womb. Unborn child experiences same violence you do. 
  • Abuse increases 66% when you become pregnant in IPV relationships 
  • Victim includes children and pets
  • It’s Never your fault 
  • Violence looks different to every victim
  • Victims may become abusive
  • You don’t have to be hit or beaten to be abused
  • You or your abuser may be a person of prominence, well-liked or respected
  • Everyone needs at least ONE person to safely confide in
  • The longer the abusive relationship, the more you believe you’re responsible or deserving of abuse
  • Violence, abuse doesn’t stop on it’s own. You can’t pray it away
  • BELIEVE people who tells you they’re going to kill you 
  • 1/2 of female homicide victims in USA are killed by current or former male partner
  • Presence of a gun in DV situation increases risk of homicide 500%
  • 53% of mass shootings are DV related (Everytown For Gun Safety)
  • How You Can Help:
  • Listen to hear concerns. Ask “How Can I Help”?
  • When they tell you how you can help, do as they request 
  • Don’t Judge their actions or lack of 
  • Don’t call them stupid, dumb
  • Don’t say “If it were you, you would…”
  • Help them find resources 
  • Keep their confidence 

If You’re In An Abusive Relationship

  • Tell someone your Truth 
  • Assess your danger; get restraining order; if necessary, go to a shelter 
  • Seek help
  • Understand it will not stop unless you get help! 
  • Before you leave, create an Escape or Emergency Plan. 

Black women are tired of being over criminalized, sexualized, raped, murdered, and plagued by violence, racist systems and structures, disproportionately impacting our communities.

Black Women deserve safety and respect. It’s impossible to solve the pandemic of systemic racism, oppression, and injustice without input from Black women. We have a right to inclusion with solutions.

For information, to schedule a workshop, volunteer, donate, or join our Board, please contact Positive Results Center at info@prc123.org  or (323) 787-922; or contact local domestic violence shelter, or Center for Domestic Violence at (800) 799=SAFE (7233).

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