Since Ray Rice, former Baltimore Ravens running back, was indefinitely suspended because a video was released of him punching his then-fiancée Janay until she was unconscious, there have been many conversations about violence between partners, and about the particular vulnerability of Black female victims. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 1. The reasons Black women suffer disproportionately from abuse are complex. 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. Access to employment and economic self-sufficiency are also important. Racism has a disparate impact on Black people, men especially, who have, for the past six decades, consistently been held to an unemployment rate almost double that of white men.
Spiritual beliefs and negative views about mental health services also factor into why many Black women remain with abusive partners. One in three Black Americans who need mental health treatment actually receive it, and we are more likely to rely on religious guidance and faith-based practices when working through relationship issues. IPV because the lack of empirical research is indicative of what may simply be lack of empathy and concern for what Black women experience. I have been a fierce advocate for Black women and a mental health social worker for more than a decade and I have learned that we cannot win this fight if we don’t acknowledge any such fight exists to begin with.