October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Statistics and resources about domestic violence as it relates to the African-American community.

Posted: 10/10/2012 12:00 PM EDT

Given recent reports that singers Chris Brown and Rihanna have rekindled their romance three years after her brutal beating, it’s even more important for us to have a conversation about how abuse impacts our community.


While what these celebrities do in their personal lives is their business, there are valuable lessons to learn: Domestic violence should not be accepted as normal behavior. Getting back with your abuser — a common practice — doesn’t make the past abuse OK nor should it downplay its seriousness.


According to statistics from the American Bar Association's Committee on Domestic Violence:


—Overall, African-Americans were victimized by intimate partners at significantly higher rates than persons of any other race, between 1993 and 1998. Black females experienced intimate partner violence at a rate 35 percent higher than that of white females and about 22 times the rate of women of other races. Black males experienced intimate partner violence at a rate about 62 percent higher than that of white males and about 22 times the rate of men of other races.


—African-American women experience significantly more domestic violence than White women in the age group of 20-24. Generally, Black women experience similar levels of intimate partner victimization in all other age categories, but experience slightly more domestic violence.


—Approximately 40 percent of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18; the No. 1 killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 is homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.


Other stats to keep in mind:


—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 in 11 adolescents say they have been the victim of physical dating violence; a separate survey indicated that one in four teens self-report physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse every year.


—African-American and Latino students report higher rates of dating violence than white students. Healthy or unhealthy relationship habits develop early.



—The CDC's 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey indicates that adolescents who reported being physically hurt in a dating relationship were also more likely to report that they engage in risky sexual behavior, binge drink, use drugs, attempt suicide and participate in physical fights.


Sadly, many women and girls who are in these types of relationships are unaware that they are being abused. Domestic violence and abuse can look like a lot of things: Hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, throwing things, rape and emotional abuse, controlling or manipulating, intimidation and stalking, to name a few. 


Here are some signs that your partner is abusive:


—    Checking your cell phone or email without permission

—    Constantly putting you down

—    Extreme jealousy or insecurity

—    Explosive temper

—    Isolating you from family or friends

—    Making false accusations

—    Mood swings

—    Physically hurting you in any way

—    Possessiveness

—    Telling you what to do


If you or someone you know is a victim of dating violence, know that it is not your fault and you are not alone. Talk to an adult, teacher or call one of the resources below for help.


—    National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

—    National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

—    The Trevor Hotline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (Trevor is a suicide prevention hotline for LGBT youth — many people in the LGBT community may feel unsafe contacting hotlines that are not specific to the LGBT community)

—    National (Teen) Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474


To learn more about teen dating violence and what healthy relationships look like, go to loveisrespect.org.



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(Photo: GettyImages)

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