Battle Cries: Black Women and Intimate Partner Abuse

By Hillary Potter | Go to book overview

1
Introduction

The Call

I use myself as an example. I was dealing with the issues of being
Black, a descendant of Black people that have been enslaved, be-
ing a person displaced from their country, dealing with incest of
my dad, dealing with rape, with depression and suicide. How the
hell are you supposed to get out from under? And you're Black,
too? And I think I had more variables than some Black women.
For some people it's easy to say maybe I deserved it, maybe I did
wrong by fighting back, maybe I was too strong…. Or if you're
dealing with the issues, you're also trying to raise kids, and the
kids become the priority instead of you. You don't even take a
chance to heal because you're too busy taking care of everybody
else. And that's what you're supposed to do, somebody says. I
think for Black women it's harder. They deal with imaginary ex-
pectations as well as real expectations.

—Lola, age 42

Popular rhetoric often portrays Black1 women as being strong, independent, and resilient. Although these are seemingly positive qualities to possess, they also have the potential to stereotype Black women in ways that can restrict their seeking help or needed support. The motivational speaker Debrena Jackson Gandy describes this as the Strong Black Woman Syndrome. The syndrome is steeped in the historically powerful images of the Mammy or the Matriarch who “was the nurturer, 'the omnipotent caregiver,' the always-listening ear, the 'everlasting arm.'… She was the Rock of Gibraltar, the Strong Black Woman who constantly gave out love, attention, and affection but who didn't ask for it, appear to

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