This morning I stumbled across an article on the Rush PR News site that asked the question, “Why do black women find it hard to break away from abusive relationships?

My initial reaction was that the headline was a bit sensational, but as a writer I know that headlines are meant not only to be an indicator of what’s to come in the article, but also to grab a reader’s attention. And this headline most certainly made me want to read more.

The article begins by introducing readers to Emunah La-Paz’s novel, Say What? The Black Butterfly Series, which delves into the lives of four successful Black women who are also victims of domestic violence. Just like the novel’s heroines, the article highlights the fact that domestic abuse affects many different types of Black women—even the ones we feel are smart enough and economically mobile enough to “know better.”

The piece goes on to assert that because many Black women and men see dysfunctional and abusive relationships growing up, they feel that abuse is “normal.”

The RushPR site states:

“Many black women feel that this behavior is normal. They simple don’t believe that they are capable of finding a relationship that holds peace. Dysfunction has been passed down from generation to generation. Breaking this cycle of abuse is an intervention within itself. Women, who lack in income, feel that they have nowhere else to go. And some have deceived themselves into believing that a relationship built on abuse, is better than no relationship at all.”

While I agree that many men and women repeat the unhealthy examples set forth by their parents, I don’t believe that this behavior is limited to just Black people. Because nearly 2 million women are estimated to be abused by their partners every year, it is clear domestic violence isn’t just an issue that affects us.

But the question at hand—why do some women stay in abusive relationships—is extremely valid.

The first time I got slapped I was in shock. After immediately leaving, I fell into the trap of apologies, gifts, and promises. And for a while, there was nothing but good times and an extra effort on my ex’s behalf to make up for his mistake. But eventually it happened again, and I knew I had to get out or risk falling into a dangerous pattern.

I did not grow up witnessing abuse, and I swore up and down that if a man ever put his hands on me, I’d leave and never look back. But when it happened to me, things didn’t seem so black and white. For me, the decision to stay or go was extremely difficult. And even though I loved my ex, I loved myself more—so I chose me. But for a lot of women, they don’t love themselves enough to want better, and so they remain until one day they (hopefully) make it out.

Many times we see women who are abused and think that it could never happen to us, that we are too smart and too strong to deal with such treatment. But with over 2 million women being abused by their partners each year, it’s clear that some of us are suffering in silence.

What do you think? Were you ever in an abusive relationship? If so, how did you find the strength to leave?

Let’s talk about it!

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  • My sisters have we forgotten that we come from a heritage that was linked to abusive iniquity? Please never forget that many of our African sisters endured violent treatment through the hands of the African man. We come from a heritage that placed the black man, before the black woman in a prideful sense. Many of our African forefathers were permitted to have numerous young wives. Many of our African sisters were mutilated from the waist down and taught that the most beautiful and productive part of being a woman was their curse. (This vile treatment still takes place in some cultures) Many of our African sisters were sacrificed to gods made of gold and wood. Sacrificial acts in respect for the moon and the stars were produced at the cost of the African woman.
    Then when captured in slavery African women were torn from their family in which the African man was often sold off. Because of this dysfunction many African men did not know the art of raising productive children and because of this generational curse, many still do not know what it takes to maintain a healthy African American Family.
    Just because Lifetime T.V. For Women depicts the white woman in abuse should not lead your mind into forgetting that most of their series cater to the white woman. Abuse among women black women will always be more prevalent among our race because this is the heritage in which we come from.
    Many of our Black men will continue to create songs which belittle our black women and praise materialistic things because of our prideful African Culture.
    Always remember my sisters God don’t like ugly and pride comes before fall. As long as the black man refuses to love the black woman as he loves his own body, many black women successful and non-successful will suffer at the hands of this generational abuse.
    Embrace a sister who writes about the truth and refers to her sisters as Black Butterflies. Embrace a sister who is not afraid to ask the question, “Are Abusive relationships ‘normal’ for black women?”
    No it’s not normal it’s our generational history. And it is up to us to break it.