Anita Hill is a celebrated educator, a Yale graduate Juris Doctorate, and an inspiring activist. She was only 35 years old when she said, “It would have been more comfortable to remain silent. It took no initiative to inform anyone-I took no initiative to inform anyone. I felt that I had to tell the truth. I could not keep silent,” before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She spoke these words to testify against the powerful Supreme Court Justice nominee, Clarence Thomas. Hill’s tremendous testimony is very much connected to the most recent testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Justice Nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. These two incidences bring up some powerful claims and feelings when it comes to violence against women.
October serves as Domestic Violence month. This month hallmarks the multifaceted ways relationships can become toxic. Violence against women is a huge part of this discussion. Hill adds, “Many women are harassed, one in three between the ages of 18 and 34, by one poll. And we need to figure out if, in fact, we are going to enable them to come forward with their complaints, as opposed to enabling harassers and abusers to continue their behavior.” Hills statements lead up to some pretty powerful truths. Many survivors of relational violence aren’t empowered to voice their traumas and many assailants are positioned to continue violent acts. Silence is a significant component of the problem yet, intimate partner violence is often a “family secret” in our Black communities. Black women are just as susceptible to these attacks as other women.
Relational violence is not just a “white folks” issue as many in our communities have been lead to believe. Consider the following:
- According to Black Women’s Blueprint, sixty percent of Black girls have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18.
- The Department of Justice estimates that for every white woman that reports her rape, at least 5 white women do not report theirs; and yet, for every African-American woman that reports her rape, at least 15 African-American women do not report theirs.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women (44%) and multiracial non-Hispanic women (54%) were significantly more likely to have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate in their lifetime, compared to White women.
- According to Homicide Reports, Black women comprise 8% of the U.S. population, but account for 20% of the intimate partner homicide victims.
Author and advocate Lori S. Robinson tells us, “No race, ethnic group, or economic class is spared from sexual violence or the myths and misinformation that complicate the healing process for survivors. But in addition to our higher victimization rate, African Americans are less likely to get the help we need to heal.” Truthfully, domestic violence is a major issue for all of us. And communities that are impacted by higher levels of crime, poverty, and addiction are more likely going to face issues relating to relational violence, domestic violence, and intimate partner abuse.
One can argue Black women are socialized to sustain relational trauma. Especially when we consider all the unrealistic expectations placed upon us to be “Ride or Die Chicks.” But who really wants those options? Are those even viable options at all? To be a committed partner should one be expected to take everything your partner is offering even if it may cost you your life? Moreover, in a community that prides itself on the motto “snitches get stiches,” are we surprised silence is considered a commodity?
We at HeySis want to create an opportunity to break the silence this month. We will be hosting our monthly session posing the question: Boundaries for What? Relational Violence and Self. We also want to encourage our readers to support amazing community partners like The Butterfly Society and Iris Domestic Violence Center. If you or someone you know needs immediate support in these areas please connect with the Louisiana Statewide Hotline: 1 (888) 411-1333 for Free, Confidential, and around the clock support or the Capital Area 24 hour Crisis Line: (225) 389-3001 or 1 (800) 541-9706.