Why is it so hard to believe Black women?
Published by: Patrice Tillery, and Christina M. Jones, Esq.
“Why did she lie?” “But she had sex with him.” “Her story has changed several times.”
As a victim of intimate partner violence, there are so many things that go through your mind while you are processing the situation. Like any other traumatic event, many people experience a period of shock. We often need time to process the events that occurred before being able to assess our true feelings and react in a way that reflects our true feelings. In the moments immediately following an incident– survival mode kicks in. If someone would shoot you, what else are they capable of? How could someone who was previously good to you do something to cause you such harm? Even after everything changes, you still care about him. You don’t want him to die – you still want to protect him.
Dr. Beth Ritchie refers to this as the “loyalty trap.”1 A phenomenon unique to Black women where we minimize, lie, or don’t report abuse by Black men because we don’t want them to enter into a criminal justice system where they could be subject to routine and brutal state violence.
Many women struggle with these scenarios because they still love their abuser, or feel some sort of connection. Many just want the abuse to stop, and/or struggle to understand why it ever happened in the first place.
Once you navigate the shock and acceptance, and possibly come to a resolution, there is the something else to consider: perception. Even if we have decided on the next course of action, we are then met with the opinions and input from family, friends, and other loved ones. You don’t want to be responsible for ruining his reputation, or maybe even his life, even though he has ruined yours. There are 1,000 nuances to consider all while your heart is breaking repeatedly.
And then the things you fear come true. People start trying to smear your character. Maybe because they don’t want to accept the reality about the abuser, or maybe it’s because they know the truth and they’re afraid too. They bring up things from years ago. They try to twist your words to damage your character. And worst of all, they flat out lie about you. One of the common types of character smearing is around one's own sexuality.
A person's sexual choices have no correlation to whether they are worthy or unworthy of abuse, yet this argument is made, even in court, to attack victims’ character. Women should not be penalized for reclaiming our power and our bodies. Yet, time and time again, it’s weaponized against us.
As black women, there is yet another layer of weight added onto to this load. We are often perceived as subhuman, stronger than other women, more deserving of abuse, yet somehow better equipped to handle it. We are not allowed the space to emote like other women. The space to feel overwhelmed, to express anger at the unimaginable plight we are given and loads we are made to carry. We are perpetually besieged by the weight of the intersectional ties of our trauma. Why is it so hard to believe Black women? Even in situations where sharing our truth benefits us in no visible way, and in many cases, makes something that is already incredibly challenging, exponentially harder. Why do we have to beg for the bare minimum?
At BWJP, we know that Black women deserve to be free from violence. It’s time for the rest of the world to catch up.TAGS: #black women #Firearms #genderbased violence #News