Reality Check: Black Women and Domestic Violence

Recently in Germantown, PA, Joyce Quaweay was killed by her boyfriend Aaron Wright. She was stripped naked, handcuffed to a bench, and was beaten to death as their four children watched. Wright’s best friend, Marquis Robinson, assisted by holding Quaweay down as Wright continued to beat her.

The reason for her death: She would not submit to her man.

As shocking as her death was, black women came up with these following arguments: misogyny, toxic masculinity. Some even argued that she should’ve left or told somebody that if she was in an abusive relationship, they would’ve helped.

The reality is it is not that simple or that easy.

As a black woman, when we choose to be in relationships we are taking a risk. We know our man has flaws, risks, ticks even if we don’t tell them to our love ones, co-workers, friends. But to leave out is a risk in an of itself, especially when there is children and money involved. The warning signs are there and only the few are wise enough to leave before things are bad or children are conceived. But most of us stay knowing the truth about our men.

With this being said, I took a hard reflection at my previous two marriages. I suffered abuse and looking back, I played a part in the abuse. I said no to sex and that lead to my rapes. I left out the house without his permission. I talked back and got hit. I got emotional and let my anger consume me, without being aware of his anger or trying to prove that I am right.

So in both cases, I left. In the first marriage, I lasted a month before I went back. The second marriage I went into complete hiding while I was pregnant. In the first marriage I successfully left and got a divorce. The second marriage ended in divorce but left me with a child to raise. After four years of struggling to find employment and raise a daughter, I almost went back to my second ex husband. Almost. My mama and my therapist were appalled to say the least.

The reality hit me that this single black independent supermother thing wasn’t working for me. It left me resenting my daughter and realizing no matter what I did, the odds of survival were truly against my favor. Black women make less money but yet we have most education. We are told that when we are in abusive relationships we are to leave, but the most dangerous and deadly time of an abusive relationship is when that person tries to leave. And if the abuser has weapons in the house, like a gun, there is a six times greater risk that the abused will die if they try to leave.

And the odds for an abused woman aren’t better if she strikes out on her own with or without the kids. Most emergency abuse shelters offer 30 to 60 days tops for single or married women with kids. If the finances are joint and they share credit cards with the abuser, it leaves the abuser an opportunity to catch up to them via a paper trail. And social media is dangerous because the internet is public and the abuser can check the abused social media accounts even if they are private. Restraining orders are hard to enforce if there is no constant evidence and the abuser is not caught when he violates the restraining order. In most states, if the victim reports the abuse to the police, she risks losing her job, her home, and her children. It seems as if she’s got to go into hiding and virtually live a life on the run from her abuser.

It’s no wonder why the victim in most cases returns back to the abuser. The odds of her survival are stacked against her . Her support and security is limited at best and dangerous at worse. The justice system cannot enforce the rules if that same system continues to “punish” and hurt the victim. Putting up with the abuse is easier than trying to fight the system that does little if nothing to prevent it or stop it from happening. So for a woman to say that it is easy to walk away, that she can just not give her money to her abuser is at best dangerous and worse fatal. It is one-sided and avoids the issue. The reality is that unless you are getting abused on a daily basis, you don’t fully understand what the mentality is like for the one being abused. It is about survival and it is about making it through another day. I learned from both marriages to the following rules of survival and am applying them to my next relationship:

1. Never say no to sex. Always say yes and do it, no questions asked.
2. Never snoop or go through his things. It’s better to not know than to look around and find out.
3. Always let the man be right in an argument. No matter how stupid just let him be right.
4. Always ask his permission before you do anything. If he says no, back off.
5. Always smile. Fake it if you can.