This morning I stumbled across an article on the Rush PR News site that asked the question, “Why do black women find it hard to break away from abusive relationships?”
My initial reaction was that the headline was a bit sensational, but as a writer I know that headlines are meant not only to be an indicator of what’s to come in the article, but also to grab a reader’s attention. And this headline most certainly made me want to read more.
The article begins by introducing readers to Emunah La-Paz’s novel, Say What? The Black Butterfly Series, which delves into the lives of four successful Black women who are also victims of domestic violence. Just like the novel’s heroines, the article highlights the fact that domestic abuse affects many different types of Black women—even the ones we feel are smart enough and economically mobile enough to “know better.”
The piece goes on to assert that because many Black women and men see dysfunctional and abusive relationships growing up, they feel that abuse is “normal.”
The RushPR site states:
“Many black women feel that this behavior is normal. They simple don’t believe that they are capable of finding a relationship that holds peace. Dysfunction has been passed down from generation to generation. Breaking this cycle of abuse is an intervention within itself. Women, who lack in income, feel that they have nowhere else to go. And some have deceived themselves into believing that a relationship built on abuse, is better than no relationship at all.”
While I agree that many men and women repeat the unhealthy examples set forth by their parents, I don’t believe that this behavior is limited to just Black people. Because nearly 2 million women are estimated to be abused by their partners every year, it is clear domestic violence isn’t just an issue that affects us.
But the question at hand—why do some women stay in abusive relationships—is extremely valid.
The first time I got slapped I was in shock. After immediately leaving, I fell into the trap of apologies, gifts, and promises. And for a while, there was nothing but good times and an extra effort on my ex’s behalf to make up for his mistake. But eventually it happened again, and I knew I had to get out or risk falling into a dangerous pattern.
I did not grow up witnessing abuse, and I swore up and down that if a man ever put his hands on me, I’d leave and never look back. But when it happened to me, things didn’t seem so black and white. For me, the decision to stay or go was extremely difficult. And even though I loved my ex, I loved myself more—so I chose me. But for a lot of women, they don’t love themselves enough to want better, and so they remain until one day they (hopefully) make it out.
Many times we see women who are abused and think that it could never happen to us, that we are too smart and too strong to deal with such treatment. But with over 2 million women being abused by their partners each year, it’s clear that some of us are suffering in silence.