Week 10- Nathalie Underwood

In “Intimate Partner Violence Against African American Women: An examination of socio-cultural context” the increasing and ongoing issue of Intimate Partner Violence is discussed in depth with a focus on African American women. Overwhelmingly research has focused on Caucasian women and Caucasian couples. The first survey used to examine African American women’s experiences of Intimate Partner Violence was the National Family Violence Survey. This survey was conducted in 1975 and then again a decade later. The findings suggested that African American men were more likely than Caucasian men to perpetuate violence but when considering socioeconomic status, African American men were less likely in all income groups except the 6,000 to 11,999 income level. To conclude they stated that African American men were over generalized when it came to IPV. Social Economic Status does matter when it comes to the propensity of IPV, women in the lower income brackets had a higher experience rate of IPV. African American woman are 1.23 times more likely to experience minor IPV, while 2.36 times more likely to experience severe IPV than Caucasian women. The NVAWS measures incidences of sexual assault, stalking, and IPV of eight thousand men and eight thousand women in 1995 and 1996. Other than race a strong indicator of IPV is income. Income was more of a predictor of IPV rates when race was taken out of the equation.

The percentage of Caucasian women living in poverty when compared to African American women is eleven percent compared to twenty five percent. Some researchers have theories on why there are differences in the way African American men and Caucasian men are socialized. One theory is that African American men are not taught that they have power growing up. As well as gender roles being more egalitarian in African American families due to their lack of resources. Hypermasculinity is defined as the desire by men to reach the ultimate level of manhood. Our society views wealth and power as aligning traits of manhood. This often causes men to go to extreme measures and often includes violence when striving to be seen as masculine. There are several macrostructural factors that can contribute to IPV including the higher number of African Americans living in poverty, urban centers, lack of community unification, and unsafe neighborhoods. When living in poverty there are more stressors that can lead to violence.  Internalized racism is the ideology that people hold skin color as a negative difference and therefore judge others on it.  People hold race differences against people of their own ethnicity. African American men are said to use this internalized racism in IPV with African American women. African American woman are represented negatively in mainstream American culture. These women are viewed as unnaturally powerful when it comes to finances, sex, and relationships. They are often blamed for many of the issues plaguing the African American community. The dangers of the stereotype of African American women as “Superwomen” creates more risk of them becoming victims of IPV. This stereotype of being untouchable and invincible causes society to not be sympathetic when it comes to African American women. Women themselves may internalize this role and be hesitant to share their experiences and patterns of abuse with others.

African American women who are victims of IPV are far less likely to turn to shelters when compared to Caucasian women. Researchers say this is due to African American women having less awareness of these services and perceive these shelters to be a poor fit. In some African American communities there is a lack of basic resources like mental health services, transportation, employment options, legal services, and police protection. This causes many women to be trapped and dependent on men. Some responses to IPV are depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and suicidality. IPV has extremely negative effects on the mental health of the women who experience it. African American women who reported incidents of IPV also were more likely to be involved with drug/substance abuse. As well as women having diverse coping strategies to IPV. One of these strategies is prayer. The findings suggested that women were more at risk when they had lower educational status,  poverty, and lack of social support. The further improvement to IPV suggested is to focus on bettering women’s experiences with mental health, access to resources, and support/therapy services. One issue with the intervention programs and African Americans is it disregards cultural differences. Another problem is it assumes every experience and person is the same. In conclusion, it is important to consider IPV as a serious health issue plaguing women. One in five women experiences IPV at some point in their life.


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