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African-American Community

The rates of intimate partner violence and sexual assault against women in the African-American community are alarming:

  • The number one killer of African-American females, ages 15 to 34, was homicide at the hands of an intimate partner or ex-partner (Bureau of Health Statistics, 1994; Sullivan and Rumptz, 1994)
  • The African-American community experiences domestic violence at greater levels than White Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos (Rennison & Welchan, 2000; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000)
  • Black women comprise 8% of the U.S. population, but account for 20% of the intimate partner homicide victims (Homicide Reports, 1976-1999)

In order to understand the needs of victims and survivors of violence against women in the African-American community, it is imperative to understand factors that prevent many victims and survivors of violence from reporting the violence. Inequalities, from historical to contemporary racial discrimination, and other variables contribute to a distrust of formal systems in spite the need for assistance.

  • African-American women have a "tendency to withstand abuse, subordinate feelings and concerns with safety, and make a conscious self-sacrifice for what she perceives as the greater good of the community, but to her own physical, psychological and spiritual detriment." (Ashbury, 1993, Bent-Goodley 2001, p.323)
  • For every African-American/Black woman that reports her rape, at least 15 African American/Black women do not report theirs. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Hart & Rennison, 2003. U.S. Department of Justice)
  • African American women experiencing domestic violence have their children removed from the home more than other groups of women, even when the circumstances are similar to other groups. (Bent-Goodley, 2004)
  • Male and female African Americans are more likely than other groups to be arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated due to violence. (Richie, 1996; Roberts, 1994)

Understanding the multiple levels of oppression that women in the African-American community face can help advocates provide culturally relevant services. The African-American community has experienced systematic violence dating back to slavery and reconstruction. Racial inequality and injustice has continued in a variety of forms in the U.S.

Additional Online Resources

Reviewed: December 22nd, 2015