The issue of IPV, or Intimate Partner Violence has been a difficult one to research over the years. In the past, it has been primarily focused on the worldview of Caucasian women. This is leaving out a major part of research, specifically on neglecting ethnic minority women. The very first survey used to look at this particular perspective, in particular African American women, was conducted in 1975. The survey was called the National Family Violence Survey, or NFVS. The results of this test revealed that African American men “evidenced a higher rate of severe IPV perpetration” at 11 percent versus Caucasian men at only 3 percent. While looking at these figures, researchers were forced to look at Social Economic Status, or SES, when conducting these studies. The results were staggering as “African American husbands were less likely to have perpetrated IPV than Caucasian husbands in all income groups except for those in the $6000–$11,999 income brackets” where nearly half of African American men (40%) were placed. The authors concluded that income is a major factor when looking at generalizations in the perpetration of IPV. These studies showed men as the higher perpetrator of IPV, meaning women are primarily the victims of these actions.
Rates of severe IPV against wives in particular were higher among African Americans than Caucasians (64 per 1000 versus 28 per 1000 families, respectively). African American women were the major targets of IPV in these cases as they were 1.23 times more likely to experience minor IPV and 2.36 times more likely for sever IPV versus their Caucasian counterparts. The National Violence Against Women Survey (or NVAWS) measured the “incidence of sexual assault, IPV, and stalking victimization”. The study definitely found that race was a major indicator of IPV, but also found that income was a stronger indicator of IPV. During the study, IPV against African American women was 35 percent higher than Caucasian women. When income was taken account of, higher annual income was associated with lower levels of IPV between both African American and Caucasian women. African American women make up 25 percent of persons living in poverty, compared to Caucasian women holding only 11 percent of this statistic. Gender is definitely something to be looked at in these cases, especially when we are trying to determine why more men are perpetrating IPV.
Some researchers argue that African American men are socialized differently than Caucasian men are, which can explain the reason they engage in more IPV. There is a great lack of access to “educational, economic, and political resources among African American men” which leads to their more egalitarian familial roles. Although African American men and Caucasian men are different in terms of their environment and access to resources, they are both taught to believe that men are superior to women, and are expected to dominate their female partner. This is a factor to hypermasculinity, which establishes or proves their “manhood”. African American men way lean towards roles that emphasize their “toughness” by engaging in alternate roles like the “hustler” or the “gangsta”. These roles are also a response to their socioeconomic status, as there is a larger portion of African American men living in areas of extreme poverty. Macrosystem researchers argue that the higher proportion of IPV within the African American community is due to this poverty. However, internalized racism, or racism towards your own race, “fosters self-dislike on an individual level and discord within the community”. These self-loathing feelings are represented in the harming of others, rather than self-harm, namely African American women. The way African American women are portrayed in the American media can add to this IPV.
Typically in American media, being feminine is equal to being fragile and frail. This is not the case for African American women, unfortunately. African American women are represented as non-feminine and overpowering, especially in their relationships, sexual encounters, finances, and physicality. The African American women is seen as a “Black Superwoman”, and although that may seem like it has many positive connotations, these women that adhere to this stereotype have many negative associations. They are seen to be able to cope with anything thus heightening exposure to IPV, as they can handle it and prevents society from seeing African American women as vulnerable. Because of this, African American women are less likely to seek out the help of others in face of IPV, such as shelters. Although that façade of strength is turning them away from sharing details about their relationships, many times they are simply unaware of services available to them. IPV has many negative implications on the individual, and seeking help is one way to prevent these mental health issues. IPV is universally responsible for PTSD, depression, substance abuse, and suicide. One would thing that intervention programs would be of help to African Americans, however the systems in place are very flawed. The majority of “intervention programs for IPV perpetrators ignores cultural differences and treat all clients with the same standardized group treatment approach”. As I stated before, race is not the only factor in IPV and this “one size fits all” approach does not work in all cases, as every individual is different and comes from different backgrounds.