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Effects of domestic violence within the Black community


Survivors and ongoing trauma

Nationwide, there has been an increase in violence of all kinds. Whether it's a viral prank gone wrong, a protest that got heated between different factions, or an assault crime, violent crimes are happening far too often. While most violent crimes are based on physical damage, domestic violence (DV) hits on different categories of damage to the victim.  

DV entails all forms of abusive behavior that individuals engage in to exercise power and control over intimate partners and other members of their household (e.g., children, spouse, elders). Domestic violence can take many forms including physical harm, sexual and psychological abuse, as well as economic coercion. 

DV in the Black community is experienced at a high rate, as 45% of all Black women (and men) experience some level of DV during their lifetimes. Of the total percentage of women, 50% experience psychological abuse, 26% experience sexual assault including rape, and 40% experience psychical abuse. 90% of women killed from abuse knew their killer, according to a study done by the Women Leadership and Resource Center in Chicago. 

While the surface looks bad, once you dive deeper, you realize that the survivors of these traumatic experiences spend the rest of their lives recovering or dealing with the aftermath of abuse. The short-term physical effects of violence can include minor injuries or serious conditions. There can be bruises, cuts, broken bones, or injuries to organs and other parts inside of your body. Sexual abuse can include vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, and trouble sleeping, or nightmares. The long-term effects include chronic pain, digestive problems such as stomach ulcers, heart problems, irritable bowel syndrome, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety, which are also common side effects to victims. Some victims also develop Stockholm Syndrome (when a hostage forms an attachment with their kidnapper). 

The experience for male victims is different because of the stigma that surrounds men. While  the report shows that 45% of DV cases where men were the victims were reported, the number is likely higher due to most men underreporting DV due to embarrassment. Physical abuse is frequent, but the real issues lie with mental, emotional, and verbal abuse, as it is much easier to hide, and fewer options to combat it. 

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of four men experience a high prevalence of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking before the age of 25. 87% of male victims of (completed or attempted) rape reported only male perpetrators. Eighty-two percent of male victims of sexual coercion reported only female perpetrators. 46 percent of male victims reported being stalked by only female perpetrators. 43 percent of male victims reported being stalked by only male perpetrators.

Children who witness DV develop and suffer from a higher risk of health problems than adults. These can include mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. They may also include diabetes, obesity, heart disease, poor self-esteem, and other problems. Children also tend to bully others at school, self-harm, commit suicide, and grow up to perform the same abuse tactics they witnessed as a child.