Violence Against Women: An Overview
Domestic violence has ripped its way through the lives of unsuspecting women across the globe for as long as history can remember. Although relationship violence impacts both men and women, the World Health Organization indicates that intimate partner violence (IPV) against women is now a major public health issue.
The NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that every 9 seconds, a woman is assaulted by her significant other. This means that by the time you are finished reading this passage, approximately 15 women will have fallen victim to violence at the hands of a partner they trusted.
Often, this violence results in irreversible damage. According to the Violence Policy Center, about three women are murdered every day in the United States by their current or former romantic partners. Daily, women are losing their lives because of lack of awareness and legislature put in place to protect them.
“When we consider race, we see that African-American women face higher rates of domestic violence than white women.”
How Domestic Violence Impacts Women of Color
While domestic violence plagues women of all ethnicities and backgrounds, women of color, specifically Native American and Black women, are far more likely than any other demographic to experience IPV (CDC).
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, not only do 40% of Black women fall victim to physical violence, but they are also far more likely to experience physiological and sexual abuse at the hands of past or current significant others. In the United States, Black women only make up about 13% of the female population but make up almost half of female home victims, with the majority of these homicides being a result of IPV (Guerra).
Black women are less likely to be believed when they cry for help, they are less likely to receive supportive services following their assault, and they are more likely to be persecuted when they fight back against their abuser (Epstein & Blake).
The culture and stigma surrounding Black women and domestic violence allows for abusers to get away with harming Black women at alarming rates.
“Those who are not direct victims have some of the same behavioral and psychological problems as children who are themselves abused.”
The Effects of Generational Violence
My siblings and I were raised by two survivors of domestic violence. My grandmother found herself stuck in a violent marriage for almost a decade, and my mother had a one-time encounter with a physically abusive ex-boyfriend in her early 20’s.
What happened to my grandmother and mother happened long before my siblings and I were born, but it had lasting effects on the way we were raised. While my siblings and I had never seen IPV in the home, the trauma experienced by our immediate family members seeped into our daily lives. Both my mom and grandma knew that as young Black girls, my sister and I were already more likely to experience violence at the hands of a trusted partner. As a prevention tactic, we grew up with a strict set of rules to follow, and we received extensive domestic violence education.
My sister, Zhania Daniel, remembers vividly what it was like growing up with two IPV survivors. She recalls how important it was that we remain aware of our surroundings, checking behind us every 30 seconds as we walk. She remembers the tracking devices we had on our cars and phones and the sleepover parties we weren’t allowed to attend. She still thinks back to the self defense lessons we received every night, lessons that have saved saved both of our lives on multiple occasions.
When there are studies conducted on the lasting effects of generational domestic violence, rarely do we see researchers take an in-depth look at how that trauma impacts the descendants of victims decades after the threat has been eliminated. The lives of my sister and I have been forever altered by the violence inflicted on the matriarchs of our family. It has impacted who we are, what we aspire to be, and how we treat others.