Learn how to spot the signs of domestic violence with new training geared toward helping Black Iowa women

Black Iowa domestic violence advocate and social entrepreneur Courageous Fire is leading a new training program sponsored by the Iowa Department of Public Health. Sign up before Sept. 1.

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Key Takeaways:

Free training for organizations, faith-based groups, hairstylists and barbers – anyone who works with, or wants to work with Black women to "improve their culturally relevant response to Black survivors of intimate partner violence across Iowa."

Helps participants understand the hidden signs of past or present domestic violence

New training program, taught by Courageous Fire, a domestic abuse survivor and advocate is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Public Health and can be completed online or in person

Watch Black Iowa News Founder Dana James' full interview with Courageous Fire

Source: Courageous Fire.

A domestic violence advocate and survivor will lead training for businesses, organizations, faith-based groups and others to help them work more effectively with Black women and spot the signs of domestic violence. The free training is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Register by Sept. 1. The training must be completed by Sept. 30. The program is tailored to the organization. The training, which can be delivered in person or online, is designed for organizations that work with Black women or want to work with Black women, said Courageous Fire, of Courageous Fire LLC., who will conduct the training.

“I can come to folks, and we can do it virtually,” she said.

The training will help inform people, organizations, and groups that Black women already interact with, called "Centers of Trust," she said.

“There’s "Centers of Trust" that Black women have, and there’s "Centers of Must,” she said. “Centers of Trust" are the places that we go because we like to go, because we feel safe, because we feel like we can tell confidential information.”

She said that includes places of comfort and support, like hairstylists or “the lady in the community who watches everybody’s kids.”

“And while we’re there, we have a cup of coffee with her and we share things with her and she helps us,” Fire said. “It might be that women’s group at our church. It might be the community center or the senior center.”

Fire said, "Centers of Must" are places women go “simply because we have to.”

“We don’t want to be in those spaces. We don’t feel safe in those spaces,” she said. “We expect to get a bad reception in those places. We are very guarded and defensive and nervous in those places," she said.

“Centers of Must” could include places like Children and Families of Iowa, the Iowa Department of Human Services or any sort of correctional facility, she said. It could also include the neighborhood medical clinic or non-Black therapist offices.

"We don’t necessarily expect to be treated as though they believe the things that we’re sharing with them,” she said. “If we could avoid these places, we would, but we can’t.”

That describes the organizations that Fire most wants to conduct the training at. She said the training provides people with tangible, productive steps that can help Black women feel safe, she said. It helps the “Centers of Trust and Must” uncover clues of possible domestic violence, Fire said.

“How about I help you understand her facial expressions or body language so that you stop misinterpreting that and so you can actually be able to keep that safe space so she can get those services without having to experience trauma,” she said. “That’s what the training does.”

The training helps women have access to more trained sources who can connect them to help and to safety, she said.

“So I am super geeked about the Iowa Department of Public Health sponsoring it so I can offer it free,” she said. “I just want everybody to get in it before or by Sept. 30 of this year so that they can get it for free.”

Some abuse is "normalized"

The training will provide participants with tools to spot domestic violence, she said. Also, some women don’t always know that they’ve experienced domestic abuse because crimes like revenge porn, digital stalking and being forced to become pregnant against their will, or their birth control being sabotaged, have been normalized.

“When someone is forcing you to do something sexual. Even if you're in a relationship, married or boyfriend or whatever, it doesn't matter," she said. "If you don't want to do that sexual activity, that is sexual abuse or sexual coercion. If they are forcing you to reproduce and you don't wish to reproduce, that is reproductive coercion or reproductive abuse. That is domestic violence, but it happens all the time.”

The Black Church

Fire is eager to work with churches, which she said are highly respected in the Black community.

'I need my pastors to be getting this information. I need them to be asking me questions during that training. I need them to be picking my brain because when women come to you and they hear: 'God loves the marriage and he hates divorce,' what she hears is – you have to stay," Fire said.

Fire also wants to educate people about "the secondary things that are taking" women's lives.

'We don't want them to keep dying to lupus and cancer and cardiovascular diseases either, or suicidal actions," she said. "And, we want them to be able to heal."

Free training available from Courageous Fire

How many times have you wished you could help a Black woman you were interacting with who:

  • had a sudden illness after being healthy all her life?
  • was extremely unhappy in her marriage and couldn't figure out why?
  • came to receive crisis services from you but left before you could complete the help?

How many times have you known there had to be more Black women who needed the services you provide but they don't visit your organization?

The Iowa Department of Public Health is sponsoring training by Courageous Fire, LLC, through Sept. 30, 2022, to equip participants with solutions to screen for domestic violence and help Black women. The training is free.

"Centers of Trust"

"Centers of Must"

Listen/Watch. Check out Black Iowa News' full interview with Courageous Fire.

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