Battle Cries: Black Women and Intimate Partner Abuse

By Hillary Potter | Go to book overview

3
Dynamic Resistance

“I'm a Strong Black Woman!”

Beginning in her formative years, Billie was faced with a multitude of circumstances that she had to regularly resist. These battles not only included the intimate partner abuse she endured during adulthood but involved events during childhood that included combating child abuse by her mother, sexual molestation by her brother, and teasing by other school children because of her low-income class status. As she aged, Billie had to deal with recurrent financial stress, the authority of the criminal justice system, employment discrimination because of her arrest record, her alcohol and cocaine abuse, and physical health problems. She summed up her life by stating, “I've had a rough life. Now I go to church. I'm trying to get it together.” During our time together, Billie regularly spoke in a manner that encompassed her entire life, her entire life struggles, and the strength that she and other Black women must possess in order to contend with these difficulties. The general consensus among the women in the study was demonstrated by Billie's declaration: “Black women are strong. They go through everything. From the time I could remember, Black women have been going through hell. White women have been pampered…. I think White women, they've got it so easy and Black women don't.”

The women I interviewed undoubtedly understood the gender disparities within society, in which all women are in a devalued position compared to that of men.1 They also overwhelmingly believed that they were at an even greater disadvantage than White women because of their race. Further, although understanding the place in which they, as Black women, are situated in the general social order and in relation to men in their immediate communities, the women consistently conveyed that they had a stronger conviction than White women in resisting the patriarchal hierarchy. The women's observations of their life experiences typically

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