Updated: Feb 13
Thanks to the media, we think about bruises and black eyes when we think about domestic violence (DV). At Courageous Fire, LLC, we're NOT focused on those types for DVAM 2021.
What about the ones you don't know - the other ones?
Spiritual, Digital, Revenge Porn
What comes to your mind when you hear these 3 topics referenced in the above header? Did you have any inkling that these are forms of DV? If you didn't, you're not alone. We surveyed participants of our DV Awareness Training sessions conducted in September 2021, and these are the top 3 ones people had never heard of before.
How did these stack up percentage-wise? The question was asked, "Place a checkmark besides every abuse type you did NOT know about prior to today's training". Training participants had the following ranked responses:
1: Spiritual/Religious Abuse - 62.5%
Tied at 2 & 3: Digital Abuse and Revenge Porn - 43.75%
When you look at the fact that 75% of the responding participants were Black/African-American, that gives you an idea that our community isn't aware. Since our work is to support and heal the Black female DV victim-survivors and one of the largest areas of support she needs is in the Black community, we definitely want to utilize this month to help you understand these specific lesser-known types of DV.
We're going to start off with Spiritual/Religious Abuse.
Definition: Ridiculing the victim's beliefs, forcing religious practices and/or using spiritual to justify/rationalize abusive behaviors.
Did you know that?? There are people literally taking passages from the Bible, the Quran, the Tripitaka, the Catechism and other texts cconsidered sacred by the people they claim to love and twisting those passages in a way to make their victim's believe that for the perpetrator to abuse them in these manners is in alignment with the will of the victim's god.
Imagine being committed to a spiritual relationship that follows a particular religion. Imagine being dedicated to living your life according to its principles and finding peace in knowing that you are doing so. Now, imagine meeting someone claiming to believe in this same deity as fervently as you do and later committing yourself to that person as well.
How confusing would it become if that person you committed yourself to was very good at twisting the meaning of the sacred text ever so slightly as to suggest that your god approves of the very behavior that tortures you inside and maybe even physically as well?
That's what spiritual/religious abuse looks like. It's confusing and makes you feel that to do anything else is a fate worse than death because it would mean giving up the very core of who you are.
Thankfully, there is help.
There is an effective and culturally-responsive crisis agency: Nisaa African Family Services right here in Des Moines, Iowa. African women face many of the same types of societal and community-based expectations that African-American women face, and they are equipped to take care of our Black women during crisis. They ask that Black victims channel through us at Courageous Fire, LLC. Call us at 515-428-0077 and say "connect me to Nisaa" to get help.
There are FREE lock-change services: Union of Black America. Simply call the toll free number, 515-381-6757 and tell them, "I need my locks changed" and then tell them the safest way for them to reach you. They will take care of the rest.
There is mental health support from Black trauma-informed therapists available: CFire Recommended Black Therapist List. We have vetted this list and stand behind the integrity of each therapist on this list. We highly recommend that you decide what you want, and don't want, from therapy and ask them for a conversation prior to filling out official intake forms because this typically includes talking about your whys for therapy, including your story. Talk first, decide if you feel this clinician is right for you, then move forward if it feels right. Trust yourself.
There is help with safety planning - a set of actions which can lower your risk of being hurt by your partner. We have found the National Domestic Violence Hotline to still be the best at helping victims make plans specific to their situation. Visit their website: thehotline.org or call them 24/7 at 800-799-7233 to access their phone advocates.
There is a way NOT to go back to the DV cycles after this relationship. Empowerment through the Arts™ . This 6-week program has been proven to be effective for its developer and our founder, Courageous Fire, along with the focus groups who have participated over 1 year ago in not re-entering future DV cycles. Sign up is always available and accessible at the link above. Groups are full at 4 participants each.
Life Beyond Victimization - Abuse Reparations
We want you to see some incredible examples of one of our founding philsophies - abuse reparations. This is a term we coined to describe this process:
A Beautiful is victimized by DV
She puts distance between herself and the abusive relationship
She begins to have what we like to call awakenings - she discovers some specific type of clever resilience she possesses now that either did not exist prior to the abuse OR has been strengthened through the experience
She decides how she will combine her unique talents and that clever resilience into some type of business, project, initiative, etc.
She. Gets. PAID = Abuse Reparations
We can show you better than we can tell you so...
We're broadcasting a special edition of #OurTalks this month featuring 3 Beautifuls - Black women, DV survivors, and abuse reparations beneficiaries. You don't wanna miss this broadcast; this is how we show flowers after the torrential rains of abuse.
Go to our home page right here on this website to get registered for our Facebook live show and RSVP: Link.
We showed you the #1 abuse type that folks didn't know. Stay right here this month to learn about the ones that tied for #2 and #3, cause it's Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2021,y'all!