By Angela N. Parker news4usonline.com contributor
I was reading a story about a man who murdered his girlfriend, their two children, and himself, in front of his girlfriend’s oldest children and my mouth literally fell open when I scrolled down to the comment section and found a page full of condolences, not for the murdered woman, or her children, but for the “good guy” who “helped everybody.”
When a woman posted that “good guys” don’t kill their girlfriends, and that he was probably abusing this woman for years before finally killing her, a slew of hateful, ignorant, and may I add, misogynistic responses quickly materialized.
I won’t recount them all, but the basic gist of them were that if there was abuse going on it was nobody’s business, and if she was being abused, and chose to stay with the psycho, then what happened in that car was her fault.
I was floored and I had to ask myself, despite all of our gains, are women still the invisible sex?
Think for a minute. I’m willing to bet that you know, or have known, someone who is a victim of intimate partner violence. Not surprising given the fact that domestic violence can take many different forms: physical, emotional, sexual and economic. It affects women and men of every age, race and class. It can happen to anybody—even you.
African American women seem to get the worst of it. According to The Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American community, African-American women experience intimate partner violence at rates 35% higher than their White counterparts and 2.5 times the rate of men and other races.
In addition, African Americans account for a disproportionate number of intimate partner homicides. In 2005, African American accounted for almost 1/3 of the intimate partner homicides in this country. These are staggering statistic that reminds us that too many of our mothers, sisters, wives, brothers and friends are trapped in a never-ending cycle of generational violence.
As African Americans, our lives often seemed marred by violence. We see it in our homes, in our schools, and in our streets. Too many of us see hitting, punching, and screaming as normal reactions to conflict, and it’s not. I was raised to understand that I never put my hands on anyone and I should never allow anyone to put their hands on me.
It’s almost a quaint notion in a society that has somehow come to believes that women can “give as good as they get” and “deserve” to suffer if they get out of line. Somehow, we have forgotten to love and cherish each other. We’ve forgotten that real women don’t hit and real men walk away from a volatile situation, no matter how hard that chose may be. We will never get anywhere as a community if we can’t stop hurting each other — spiritually, emotionally and physically.
I work with women who are victims of domestic violence and the number one question I get is, “why don’t they just leave?” It’s not a question with an easy answer.
- Many fear that they cannot survive emotionally without their partner. I once had a woman tell me that, “I wasn’t starved for money or for courage, I was starved for love, and I’d accept anything to get it.”
- Many feel that they can’t survive financially without their partner.
- Many do not want to break up their families.
- Also, for many, violence may be all they know, and they convince themselves that what they are going through isn’t really that bad.
- Then there is the very real threat of more violence and even death. Many times, when a partner threatens to kill their mate if they leave they are not kidding.
As African American women, we need to make our voices heard and demand respect. It is not okay to kill, maim, burn or defile us in anyway. It is not okay to take us from our babies, and force us to leave motherless children who will never be whole again.
The appalling treatment of so many of us should not be treated as business as usual. It should not be rationalized as something that we deserve. It should not be ignored.
We can close or eyes and try to pretend that intimate partner violence is not that bad, or deny it is even happening, but the invisible often materializes at the most inconvenient times, reminding us that some things cannot be wished away. We must stand up for those who we cannot see, but who we know need us the most.
till next month…
Angela N. Parker is a writer of stuff. You can visit her Under the Hill blog at http://angelanparker.blogspot.com/ and her Writer’s Blog at http://theparkerverse.blogspot.com. Please send any questions/comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.