BWBBlack Women’s Blueprint, an organization that “provides the personal and political spaces as well as the resources needed for women to engage in intersectional advocacy at the grassroots and societal level,” has launched the “Truth Commission.”

The grassroots initiative was developed to address the impact of sexual violence on black women. This is an important issue receiving minimal attention. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) found more than 18 percent of black women endure rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.

Black Women’s Blueprint found 60 percent of Black girls experience sexual abuse before turning 18 and the Black Women’s Health Imperative released a report estimating 40 percent of black women are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

Sexual assault and rape is an epidemic. Brooke Axtell, a Forbes contributor and women’s rights advocate, writes: “The pervasive nature of this trauma could translate into an increased risk for Black women and girls to experience depression, PTSD and addiction, common symptoms experienced by many survivors of rape.”

The trauma is compounded by a classist, sexist and racist society that renders our pain invisible.

Lori S. Robinson, author of I Will Survive: The African-American Guide to Healing from Sexual Assault and Abuse, writes:

“No race, ethnic group, or economic class is spared from sexual violence or the myths and misinformation that complicate the healing process for survivors. But in addition to our higher victimization rate, African Americans are less likely to get the help we need to heal.”

Robinson also notes that less than 5 percent of black sexual assault victims seek counseling and more than half suffer in silence. “African-American women are raped at a higher rate than White women, and are less likely to report it. We have suffered in silence far too long,” she writes.

The Truth Commission is intervening to “demand more public and private support for primary prevention strategies at the grassroots community level that will stop violence against women and girls before it occurs.” Black Women’s Blueprint intends to use the initiative to launch an education campaign that provides support and education to survivors, their families and urban communities. It is designed to orchestrate anti-rape strategies in black communities.

Women of color are encouraged to participate in the Truth Commission through four simple steps:

Take an Anonymous Survey about Rape

Black Women’s Blueprint has developed an online survey to gauge general knowledge of rape. It takes less than five minutes to complete and requires no name or other identifiers.

Attend an Organizing Meeting

The organization hosts several events each month. A full calendar is available at Black Women’s Blueprint’s site.

Join the Live Free Campaign

Black Women’s Blueprint is using social media to brand the commission and expand its reach. A Facebook space has been created for Black women to do what we have been historically denied – to name, lay claim and share what our bodies mean to us on our own terms, using our own language.” It encourages ownership by asking participants to do three things:

Step One: Fill in the blank: My Body, My _____

Step Two: Post a picture of yourself that signifies your relationship with your body

Step Three: Include a personal manifesto to explain your declaration on body autonomy, body integrity, rights, healing and informing.

Chime in Clutchettes and gents. Will you support the Truth Commission?

  • Fantastico

    This is much needed.

  • MimiLuvs

    Back when I was a student in college, I attended a seminar/workshop that discussed the topicof violence against women. During the seminar, one of the presenters asked the audience the question “Have you ever been sexually assaulted?” Then she had gone on to explain that she also meant sexually harrassed as well.
    I remember almost every young black woman’s hand was raised. If I had to guess, there were 100+ black women in attendence. It was very startling for me to see.
    “…The trauma is compounded by a classist, sexist and racist society that renders our pain invisible…”

    I was sexually assaulted, when I was a teen. The BS that occurred afterwards made everyday feel like torture.

  • MommieDearest

    I like what this organization is doing. Also, as the mother of a young son, I think that boys need to be taught about personal boundaries and how to respect/treat girls and women. IMO we need to raise boys such that they don’t think of girls and women as objects to be conquered or used for their own benefit. Until that mindset is altered, we won’t be able to make more than a dent in the pervasive culture.

  • http://gravatar.com/jhenisis jhenisis

    Thank you for sharing your experience.We see you!

  • http://gravatar.com/jhenisis jhenisis

    Absolutely our children need to be given specific information on what we expect of them when they interact with others, especially on the uncomfortable topics.Boys and girls need to know their bodies are sacred and their wishes regarding them should be respected by others. I was thinking the other day about how we tell boys not to hit girls but how many girls grow up to be women who may physically abuse their partner (male or female) when they get angry? Our young ones will learn what to do from somewhere…

  • dbsm

    girls, particularly AA girls (and boys), need to be taught what sexual assault/violence/rape is. the problem begins when they cannot even identify it, period.

  • Kay

    I would love to be involved in this kind of initiative! I really want to see something like this started in the Midwest though. But I will definitely donate.

  • Pingback: Black Women’s Blueprint Launches “Truth Commission” to Address Sexual Violence in the Black Community | Urban Family Communications

  • binks

    This is truly a great cause to often rape and sexual assault (or attempted) of black women/girls goes unnoticed and unchecked because of the way society still views/treats black women and girls as a whole especially when it comes to sexuality so we don’t deal with it and sadly it is covered (often time for years) and snowballs into other negative things. Kudos to this campaign!

  • LN

    This is so important. I know 4 black women in my network who have been raped, molested or sexually assaulted in some way — and that’s just counting those who have chosen to share.

    Sexual abuse is an epidemic in American culture in general and black culture in particular.

    It’s easy for us to point the finger at girls twerking or teenagers having babies but where do you think some of that behavior comes from?? In too many cases it stems back to abuse. And yet, in black culture, we shame the “ho” and the “trick” while the men (and sometimes women!) who caused this behavior are let off the hook and/or not even addressed.

  • http://gravatar.com/tellmesumtingood TajMarie

    I agree. One of the things that I learned through a Harassment through the Workforce Seminar, is that when it comes to harassment, it doesn’t matter how it was intended, but how it is received. I think a number of people have an issue grasping this concept because they lack empathy and have a hard time putting themselves in other people shoes. Therefore, they don’t see an act as racist unless they use the “n” word, or an act as sexual assault unless someone is being raped.

  • BeanBean

    I love this article. My mom never talked to us about rape. I honestly thought that only white people get raped or are rapists, because that’s what I saw on TV. I got a rude awakening when I went to Harrison, Arkansas to visit my grandma. She pretty much told me that rape is used as a control mechanism for racist in that town. And that black women being raped is hardly ever reported, especially when the rapist is a white man. Knowledge is power people!

  • SayWhat

    What a wonderful campaign. This generation of black women are told everyday that they are less than, and at, best just ‘alright’,. Not seeing themselves portrayed positively in their community and being told outright that they are ugly (after all she’d be better red)has had a very serious impact on their self worth. Why would you report a rape if you did not see anything wrong with someone ‘taking’ away your most precious asset? Why would you even see it as rape if you were almost happy/flattered that they even paid you attention?
    I agree that we have to tackle this problem by educating the boys as well, but I feel like we have a hard road ahead because the victims don’t actually realize that they were victimized, and the aggressors don’t have enough respect for their victims to feel remorse….but this is a great step in the right direction.

  • MommieDearest

    @Be Real

    “Mommiedearest

    Ok…but what will you touch your son about protecting himself? His responsibility is to himself before it is to anyone else. The best guarantee that you will have a loving and respectful son is when he loves and respects himself first. Cultivate his worth first.”

    What makes you think that I haven’t done that already?

  • http://www.facebook.com/lmodom Loga Michelle Odom

    I am very pleased to see Black Women’s Blueprint taking on this important work. Thank you. We give lip service to knowing how important women are to developing our communities, and yet hobble them with carrying the burdens of these sorts of trauma. Unless we are whole in body, mind and spirit, we are ill-equipped to meet the formidable challenges before us. We must make the connections from our childhood and youthful experiences, to the broader outcomes in our community. Who better for he task than Black Women ourselves?

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