The reasons Black women suffer disproportionately from abuse are complex. Racism and sexism are two of the biggest obstacles that Black women in America face. But because many Black women and men believe racism is a bigger issue than sexism, Black women tend to feel obligated to put racial issues ahead of sex-based issues. For Black women, a strong sense of cultural affinity and loyalty to community and race renders many of us silent, so our stories often go untold. One of the biggest related impediments is our hesitation in trusting the police or the justice system. As Black people, we don’t always feel comfortable surrendering “our own” to the treatment of a racially biased police state and as women, we don’t always feel safe calling police officers who may harm us instead of helping us. And when we do speak out or seek help, we too often experience backlash from members of our communities who believe we are airing out dirty laundry and making ourselves look bad in front of White people.
Access to employment and economic self-sufficiency are also important. Racism has a disparate impact on Black people, men especially, who have, for the past six decades, consistently been held to an unemployment rate almost double that of white men. In a society that measures “manhood” primarily by one’s ability to provide, being denied access to the means to provide can cause some men to seek power through dominating women. For some men, the venting of anger turns violent and their partners suffer the greatest blows. Black women also face employment disparities, earning less than Black men and White men and women. This wage disparity limits available options and leaves many women, particularly mothers, feeling trapped in bad relationships where financial needs trump all.