The Chris Brown and Rihanna incident has sparked heated discussions about domestic violence in Black America. The conversation has made us think hard about what needs to be done. Listen to these statistics: African-Americans account for approximately 40 percent of the domestic violence cases reported nationally, according to the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.
There are no wrong answers when it comes to finding solutions about this burning issue. ESSENCE.com hit the streets to hear what Black women are saying about how to end the silence of abuse now.
Reported by Porsche Slocum and Jenisha Watts
City: New York, New York
“First, we have to stop being ashamed of it. It happens and there’s a saying that we teach people how to treat us. Women need to know about support groups for abused victims. And women need to stop being ashamed."
City: Hoboken, New Jersey
“Mothers and fathers need to let their daughters know, it’s not okay for a man to hit you. And they need to let sons know that they shouldn’t hit a woman.”
City: Queens, New York
We need to educate young girls. The younger we get to them, the better. We need to take more of an initiative to help people that we know are being abused. We need programs in schools and summer camps—wherever there is more of a concentration of young people. Once they get to a certain age, it’s too late. But if you can get to children early enough, then that’s a good thing.”
City: Jersey City, New Jersey
“It boils down to us mothers talking to our young girls; making them understand; and showing them statistics; taking them to battered shelters; and letting them listen to some of those stories. We need to make them understand the realism of it and how important it is to free themselves from that type of violence.”
“Black women should not tolerate abuse! Domestic violence is like every other violence. There’s support groups for gang violence, AIDS—all these things can lead to death. There’s no support group, as far as I know, that gives the person being abused enough confidence to leave. We need groups to support the people that are going through this, to tell them that they don’t have to stay in that type of environment.”
“We need to start being more aware and being more concerned about this issue. If we see a friend or a family member and we see something is not going right, then we need to address it, because sometimes people believe that door is closed. Sometimes the abused person doesn’t want people to come into their private life. We need to create more dialogue about the issue so people won’t feel like they can’t talk about it. If something happens, you will regret not saying anything.”
City: Jersey City, New Jersey
“We should talk more about the issue and be more sensitive to the issue. Other than talking about it, I don’t see any other way. We need to teach women to see that it’s wrong.”
City: Harlem, New York
“I think we should come together as Black women. Older women should share the wisdom with the younger generation. Hopefully that support team will help generations down the line. We as a community should come together and speak to younger women. These kids nowadays really need to have some guidance.”
“We need to have a support team among ourselves instead of support from a man."
City: Bronx, New York
“All women should speak up! If they are afraid of their husband, they should be able to call a hotline. Hotlines will help. The numbers should be placed everywhere: trains, buses—anywhere that is visible.”
(For more information about how to get help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800-799-SAFE)