In August, a friend and community partner, Michelle Avan, was killed! I knew her to be kind, thoughtful, and brilliant. A mother, grandmother, mentor, and well-respected, prominent, Black Female Bank Executive!
People are struggling to understand why and how this could happen, especially to Michelle! It came from left field, unexpected. Not her! We can't wrap our heads around this senseless violence.
I was with her one week before she was murdered. We laughed and talked, thankful to be in each other's company after almost two years, thanks to COVID-19. We scheduled time to meet in September to discuss working with Black girls in our programs, helping them realize and achieve their goals, and live life abundantly.
I saw her at an event my company, Positive Results Center (PRC), was supporting. I was asked to speak about our work briefly. Ironically, I talked about "The Secret."
Every woman has a secret! Some know this secret intimately, and some carry someone else's secret. Fear, shame, blame, and denial keep the secret a secret. The secret is dating, domestic, intimate, or interpersonal violence. No matter what you call it, it's all violence and often ends up deadly.
IPV is rooted in power and control! IPV doesn't discriminate on age, ethnicity, gender, professional or financial status.
Black women are tired of being over-criminalized, sexualized, raped, murdered, and plagued by violence, racist systems, and structures, disproportionately impacting our communities.
Black women deserve safety and respect. It's impossible to solve the pandemic of systemic racism, oppression, and injustice without input from Black women. We have a right to inclusion with solutions.
Below Lewis provides a non-exhaustive list designed to help people understand what violence is, how it shows up, and what you can do to support someone!
- Every 9 seconds, a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten.
- The U.S. Census Bureau estimates 20.6 million Black women and girls live in the country, about 7% of the U.S. population.
- 29.1% of Black females are victimized by IPV (including rape, physical assault, or stalking) and often the predator ISN'T prosecuted (Women of Color Network). Black women experience significantly higher rates of psychological abuse---humiliation, insults, name-calling, and coercive control (Institute for Women's Policy Research).
- Black females experience IPV 35% higher than white females, 2.5 times higher than women of other races.
- Racism, sexism, sizeism, uglification, shame, fear, reprisal, past/present trauma, lack of respect and trust make Black women less likely to report abuser or violence.
- Listen to hear concerns. Ask "How Can I Help"?
- When they tell you how you can help, do as they request
- Don't judge their actions or lack of
- Don't call them stupid, dumb
- Don't say, "If it were you, you would…"
- Help them find resources
- Keep their confidence
- Forms of Violence
- Reasons We Don't Report Abuse
- Are You in An Abusive Relationship?
- Things You Need to Know About Domestic Violence
- If You're in An Abusive Relationship