Love does not hurt however an increasing number of Black women report cases of domestic violence annually. Although domestic violence knows no gender or race, researchers have concluded African Americans experience higher rates of domestic violence than any other racial group.
In 2020, Black victims reported 29,537 cases of domestic violence according to Michigan Incident Crime Reporting. Of these cases, 17,597 were at the hands of a significant other.
Organizations across metro Detroit are stepping in to give female victims of domestic violence a safe space, assistance in recovery and, ultimately, a clean slate. The YWCA of Metropolitan Detroit is the largest and oldest domestic violence emergency shelter in the state of Michigan. The shelter is open year-round for ease of access.
Victims of domestic violence oftentimes have a hard time escaping the throes of their relationship. Statistically, most attacks occur at the hands of a lover. Through manipulation, verbal assaults and physical tactics, abusers persuade their victims into staying despite any desire or attempt to escape a situation.
“In their mind, the man that is abusing them is also the man that they love and they remember a time when he was not abusive and they think they can always go back to him not being abusive. They keep giving them chance after chance and there are many reasons. Some are they love them, children, he’s the provider and religious beliefs,” says Sandra Jones-Kariem, program manager for YWCA Metro Detroit.
Mentally, abuse victims have to navigate the feelings of being hurt by a trusted person as well as the thoughts and emotions linked to their self-worth as a result. Commonly, reports from therapists suggest abuse survivors suffered from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, depression and anxiety.
“First of all, they’re fearful. They’re scared. They believe if they leave him, he’s going to find them and he may do something worse or ‘if I leave him, he’s going to take me to court and take the children,’” says Jones-Kariem. “Generally, he will promise not to do it again and they believe him.”
This cycle can lead to years of abuse. Fear is a major component of separating from abusers. However, for the ladies who seek services from the YWCA, they are also given the building blocks to help establish a new life away from their tormentor.
“Once they’re in our care, they do receive counseling, case management for housing, employment and education. We have support groups, empowerment classes and community events and activities,” says Jones-Kariem.
YWCA also offers food, clothing and child care services for the women in the shelter. Legally, the women can also receive assistance in filing for a Personal Protection Order, or PPO.
Domestic violence may not stop at physical abuse. Cases of domestic violence can extend to the victim engaging in self-abusing behavior to escape the mental angst of the ongoing abuse.
Though the YWCA is the only domestic violence shelter in Detroit, there are additional organizations in surrounding cities that lend their help to victims of domestic violence. The Detroit Police offers a program for families and victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and homicide. The Victim’s Assistance Program, or VAP, provides free, confidential individual and group counseling. The program also teaches effects of domestic violence on children, establishing a safety plan and warning signs of an abusive mate.
For victims of domestic violence, there is help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at (800)-799-SAFE (7233). Locally, there are police precincts and other organizations which provide victims with tools needed to report the crime and seek shelter. It is never the victim’s fault and leaving is not easy, but there are resources in place to make the escape less dangerous.
- HAVEN – Pontiac, MI: 248-334-1274
- First Step – Plymouth, MI: 734.416.1111
- Domestic Violence Interventions – Clinton Township, MI: 586-980-2464
- The Angel House – Redford Charter Township, MI: 313-694-3093
- ACCESS Victims of Crime Act program – Dearborn, MI: 313-216-2202