Family, I am writing this to speak from my heart. When we lose a Black woman to domestic violence (DV) as we just did in Des Moines, Iowa, on December 12, 2022, it literally breaks my heart. I am doing this work so that we have the awareness to protect ourselves and for our community to protect our women. When we lose one, my spirit cries, “What else can I do? How do I get the word out to our community so we can stop this from happening?!”
I am writing this article to make sure we as a community understand that there are certain things that must happen for a Black woman to leave this situation — safely.
Up to 75% of abused women who are murdered are killed after they leave domestic violence, according to the Guardian.
Please hear my experience, heed the expertise, but feel my love. Family, these are the 5 things to remember when someone you love is leaving domestic violence:
Leaving domestic violence safely
- To leave she has to create a safety plan. That is what saves her life.
Safety plans examine all the specific variables of that survivor’s situation so that she is not harmed or killed in trying to leave. Safety plans also seek to ensure that no one else (friends, family, and other innocent bystanders) are harmed or killed during her exit. The best place to get that done is with a professional at the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233.
2. You cannot whisk her away in a group to protect her. That safety will only be temporary.
The abuser knows her entire lifestyle. He knows everything about where she works, goes to church, visits her village and pursues her education. He knows the routes she takes to all of these and her schedule. He will do one of two things — harm you ALL or harm/kill her when she is away from you.
3. Do not encourage her to announce to him that she is leaving. That can cost her life.
To him, that victim is his possession and she is the possession that makes him valuable. In leaving, she is threatening his worth. To him, she also represents his power — even if it is only the power to control her. He would rather give up her life and his than lose what makes him valuable or lose his sense of power and control.
4. The most dangerous time after abuse is her next 18 months. Support has to be dedicated.
If we are going to help her, family, we must STAY on the job. Abusers expect to be able to wait until her help thins out to strike. They will hoover her to try to lure back within striking distance. That is why it takes an average of 7 attempts to truly break free from domestic violence — permanently.
5. Don’t assume she stayed because she wanted to. You don’t know what’s been threatened.
An officer was called to a domestic violence scene and found a staircase lined on both sides with knives and realized THAT was what the victim faced trying to leave. All abusers don’t give these visuals, but their victims know what the invisible yet real dangers are.
Courageous Fire, owner & founder, Courageous Fire, LLC, Courageous Access, wrote this piece for Black Iowa News to raise awareness about the dangers of advising someone about how to flee domestic violence without knowing these important steps. As an advocate and survivor, Courageous Fire is dedicated to helping inform the Black community about domestic violence.