Can you heal from abuse? What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day. And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough. Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation. But it doesn’t have to take years either. Millions of other survivors around the worlds entire lives have been impacted by their narcissist. Yours doesn’t have to. To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.
Welcome back to Healing From Emotional Abuse. The past few weeks in this country, have been devastating and heart wrenching for me, a person of privilege, so I can’t begin to imagine or understand what the African American community is feeling right now. My heart is with you. You have my support, my love and my voice.
Today, I wanted to focus on this particular community and the issue of racial disparity in sexual assault. I’ll try not to be overly political, although I feel strongly about my beliefs, especially as it relates to the Black Lives Matter movement. I understand and recognize that everyone is entitled to their opinions and political alignments.
Being sexually assaulted isn’t better or worse for anyone, but the risks, frequency, resources available, and reported cases are very different. For African American women, sexual assault and violence are incredibly pervasive issues that routinely go unreported and under-addressed.
Hypersexualized depictions of women of color, have functioned since the early 1400s and have manifested themselves through our political and cultural landscapes for centuries. The myth that Black women were vessels for sexual desire were used to justify enslavement, rape, forced reproduction, and other forms of sexual coercion in the early onset of Western colonization.” (NOW.org)
“Stereotypes regarding African American women’s sexuality, including terms like (forgive me for saying this), ‘Black jezebel,’ ‘promiscuous,’ and ‘exotic,’ perpetuate the notion that African American women are willing participants in their own victimization. However, these myths only serve to demean, obstruct appropriate legal remedies, and minimize the seriousness of sexual violence perpetrated against African American women.” Women of Color Network,
Look at sexual predators like R. Kelly. His undeniable, abusive and sexual misconduct with young black women was publicized with a documentary of the survivors crying and telling their stories, and yet, those women still don’t have justice. Why? Why is it that hundreds of young black minors throughout his career that were harmed, kidnapped, raped and forced into sexual slavery, came forward and spoke their truth and yet, nothing was done? However, Harvey Weinstein, who primarily attacked young white women who were generally over the age of 18, was charged and convicted within a year and a half. I’ve been following the R. Kelly story for a long time. And the fact that he has not been brought to court yet shows the discrimination between the value of white assault victims and the value of black assault victims.
I’ve been reading articles and citing research specifically on rape statistics for people of color, and the statistics are jarring. Here are a few that really jumped out at me:
According to the National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community
- For every black woman that reports rape, at least 15 black women do not report.
- 35% of black women experience some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. (CDC)
- African American girls and women aged 12 years and older experienced higher rates of rape and sexual assault than white, asian and Latina girls and women.
- 40% of confirmed sex trafficking survivors in the US are black.
- Many cultural considerations can hinder healing for black women survivors: the burdensome expectation of strong, black womanhood; the power of the black church; the desire to shield black men, and the lack of self-care resources.
From the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault:
- 40-60% of black women have been subjected to coercive sexual contact by the age of 18. That means while they’re minors. Child abuse. Child molestation.
- A study found that college students perceived a black victim of sexual assault to be less believable and more responsible for their assault than a white victim.
- That’s disgusting. And that is a mindset change that needs to take effect immediately. How can we change the perception by educated people that all victims, regardless of skin color, are never to be blamed for their abuse? What ideas do you have?
The institute for women’s policy research reported that: More than 20 percent of black women are raped during their lifetimes — a higher share than among women overall.
How horrible is this?
And, I also want to point out that there was very limited research on male survivors of color. I don’t know if that’s an interest issue, a funding issue, or a reporting issue, but I find it bullshit that in 2020, we still paint males, especially African American males as only perpetrators. They are more likely to be convicted of rape and abuse than white men, and their sentences are longer — even if they are innocent. But to not even research male POC as victims outside of the LGBTQ community, is garbage.
For 27 stories of male survivors, grab my book, Breaking Through the Silence: #Me(n)Too. It’s available on my website: www.marissafayecohen.com/the-books and Amazon. In that book, there are several people of color that come forward and speak about their abuse. So we know it happens.
Because of African-American’s unique history of racist and sexist victimization, the black community has an even harder time than others dealing with rape. This prevents survivors from getting help and our community from addressing the issues effectively.
Some African American women’s decisions not to report their sexual assaults may be influenced by the criminal justice system’s history of treating European-American perpetrators and victims differently than perpetrators and victims of color. — From the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development for Human Rights
This isn’t just a matter of excessive force. It’s a matter of systematic, justified racial profiling, that allows an entire group of people to be ostracized and fearful of the people who pledge to protect and serve our nation. I might be alone here, but that’s not okay with me. If you take an oath to protect and serve, that means everyone. We need to rally together, snuff out the “bad apple” cops as they are so politely titled, and reform the “brotherhood, boys club” mentality of good people being silenced have room to speak out and hold their brothers and sisters in uniform accountable for their bad actions.
I’m certainly no expert in the Black Lives Matter movement, or what the community feels would be the most effective and helpful way to engage and participate.
(SIDENOTE: if anyone has any additional insight, please feel free to contact me. I want to do whatever is needed to help), but here are some ways that you can help female POC survivors of sexual assault.
There are policies to address sexual violence such as the Violence Against Women Act, but partisan politics are currently preventing its reauthorization. What we don’t have is a critical mass willing to enforce these policies. Center black women in the narrative, and act. To enforce these policies, we can write letters and call our local & state representatives and encourage them to protect survivors. Center black women in your advocacy. Contact your elected officials and share this data. Ask them what they are doing specifically to improve the sexual violence experienced by black women. Ask them to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
- Become an informed ally. Consider reading more books by black women scholars who are writing about the daily lived experiences of black women, including sexual violence. Sheena Howard, author of Nina’s Whispers who was on the show a few weeks ago, spoke about her experiences and wrote a fictional book about a POC in the LGBTQ+ community who was abused.
- Support organizations that work on behalf of black women in your area. This may require you doing some research, talking with black women and allowing them to tell you what they need.
Here are a few organizations to look into:
- Black Women’s Blueprint https://www.blackwomensblueprint.org/
- Rights 4 Girls https://rights4girls.org/
- Sister Love https://www.sisterlove.org/
- Incite National https://incite-national.org/
- YWCA https://www.ywca.org
- A Long Walk Home http://www.alongwalkhome.org/
- Trans Women Of Color Collective https://www.twocc.us/
This episode might deter people from reaching out to me for help with healing from emotional abuse, and that’s okay with me. Everyone deserves the feeling of safety, happiness and opportunity. That way, if anyone chooses not to take the opportunities, which is something I’ve been hearing a lot of lately, it falls on them. And the statistic of 70% of African Americans born into poverty stay in poverty, won’t be based on education, lack of opportunities and blatant racism.
What does justice look like to you?
If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.MarissaFayeCohen.com/Private-Coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made-for-you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work, and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone, and hurt, and live a free, confident, and peaceful life. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Healing From Emotional Abuse podcast, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen, and instagram @Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We’d love to see you there!
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