To End DV Now, We Must Eliminate Racism

A- A A+

To End DV Now, We Must Eliminate Racism

QudsiaBy Qudsia Raja, Advocacy and Policy Manager for Health and Safety

As a woman of color working in the movement to end violence against women, it is far too frequent that I hear conversations about domestic violence veer into clear racial bias. For example, police officers have an even higher occurrence of domestic violence than NFL players, but the public dialogue focuses almost exclusively on Black athletes and other celebrities of color. Similarly, the media often casts immigrant men whether Latino, Arab, South Asian, or otherwise as inherently oppressive and prone to violence against women – we see this far too often in our political discourse in particular.

This misguided and racist dialogue truly distracts from the very real systemic and cultural barriers that keep women from leaving abusive partners. Communities, service providers, and policy makers can take a variety of practical and helpful steps to ensure that all women have pathways to safety.

At YWCA, an organization dedicated both to the elimination of racism and to women’s empowerment, we look daily for these types of solutions – whether  through our federal policy and advocacy work, or our safety programs serving over 500,000 women and families in YWCAs across the country. Domestic violence impacts a quarter of all women, but women of color face heightened challenges in leaving their abusers:

  • Native women face the highest rates of violence, with double the rate of violence than the general population.
  • Over 70% of sexual assaults of Native women are committee by non-Native men, and legal loopholes prevent tribal courts from prosecuting them.
  • Economic realities are strongly tied to the likelihood of abuse amongst African American women, and a history of abuse by law enforcement keeps many from reporting to the police.
  • Limited-English proficiency for immigrant women often translates to an inability to access critical services such as counseling, housing, or the legal system.

Just as in all cases of domestic violence, these statistics reflect the grim and very real challenges that a victim must navigate as she seeks safety from violence. When we allow racist misconceptions to prevail in the public dialogue and in our personal consciousness we not only fail as critical thinkers but we fail women and girls in every community across the country. Systems of racial oppression worsen the impact of violence against women and give power to abusers. A thoughtful, pragmatic, intersectional approach to ending violence against women is our only hope to #endDVnow.

Small changes can have a cosmic impact in the long run. So, for Week Without Violence this year, my challenge to you is to be deliberate when you talk about violence against women. Together we can dismantle misconceptions about domestic violence and race.  Sure, it’s not an easy challenge – but it’s a worthy one.

YWCA’s Week Without Violence is an annual campaign that takes place nationally and communities across the country to end violence in all of its forms and wherever it occurs. As the largest network of domestic service providers in the United States, YWCA is focusing our efforts on ending domestic violence – NOW. Everyday YWCA addresses the root causes and immediate needs associated with domestic violence. As we mark our 20th annual Week Without Violence, we invite you to join us. To learn more visit and join the conversation with #EndDVnow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *