In our society, the deadly reality of domestic violence takes a devastating toll, particularly affecting Black women. When we lose a member of our community to this vicious cycle of abuse, it shatters not just our hearts but the very fabric of our community. We are here to raise awareness and empower ourselves to safeguard our women. With each tragic loss, a plea rings within us, urging us to find ways to prevent further suffering.
Up to 75% of abused women who are murdered are killed after they leave domestic violence, according to the Guardian. I am writing this to make sure we as a community understand that it’s not just leaving the situation - it’s leaving safely. And there are things that must happen to ensure that takes place. I am compelled to address and shed light on crucial steps to ensure the safe departure of Black women from abusive relationships. Understanding and implementing these steps can be a matter of life and death for the survivor and those around her.
1. Creating a Safety Plan: A Lifesaving Measure
The biggest step in helping a Black woman leave a dangerous domestic situation is to support her in creating a comprehensive safety plan. A safety plan is a tailored strategy that examines the unique circumstances of the survivor in depth, to make sure that she is not harmed or killed when attempting to leave. To develop an effective plan, doing so with the help of a professional at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) is crucial.
2. Temporary Protection From You is Not Enough
It's essential to understand that whisking the survivor away in a group might provide temporary safety, but it is not a long-term solution. Abusers possess an intimate knowledge of the survivor's life, habits, and routines. Their relentless pursuit endangers everyone involved, making strategic planning and professional guidance so important.
3. Stealth and Caution: Keeping her Plans a Secret
Encouraging the survivor to announce that she’s leaving to the abuser can have fatal consequences. To the abuser, the survivor represents possession and power, and her leaving threatens this to him. He would rather give up her life and his than lose what makes him valuable or lose his sense of power and control, making it vital you keep her plans to leave a secret.
4. The Critical 18 Months: A Period of Necessary Support
After the survivor leaves an abusive relationship, the next 18 months are crucial. The abuser often waits for support to lessen, attempting to lure the survivor back. It is essential for us, as a community, to remain steadfast and dedicated in our support during this vulnerable period, minimizing the risk of the survivor falling back into the cycle of abuse.
5. The Unseen Threats: Understanding the Invisible Dangers
You should never assume that the survivor stayed willingly. Unseen threats and dangers often keep victims trapped. Abusers can use psychological tactics and display threatening behaviors, making the survivor's situation far more dangerous than it seems. Being compassionate and understanding of these invisible yet real dangers is crucial in extending the necessary support.
The aim of this post is to amplify awareness about the dangers of advising someone to leave domestic violence without knowledge of these vital steps. This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let’s not just bring light to domestic violence, but how to safely help our Black sisters.