Battle Cries: Black Women and Intimate Partner Abuse

By Hillary Potter | Go to book overview

2
Black Feminist Criminology
and the Power of Narrative

“I Just Wanted to Tell My Story”

Billie is a 42-year-old who has remained in the same western U.S. city and lived in low-income status her entire life. Although she has completed some formal vocational training, she left high school in her final year and throughout her life has maintained sporadic employment. Billie experienced abuse from a number of family members during her upbringing, including her mother, a brother, an aunt, and her grandmother. During adulthood, she has encountered four abusive heterosexual intimate relationships, including that with her current common-law husband, Odell, whose main form of abuse is mental and verbal. Billie began abusing alcohol and other drugs in her twenties, and, though she was able to overcome her addiction to crack cocaine, she continues to struggle with her abuse of alcohol. In fact, a day after I set my interview appointment with Billie and a week prior to the actual interview, she telephoned me in great despair and in desperate need of assistance. She phoned while at her home, where she said Odell and her teenage son were verbally abusing her. I could hear the men yelling at Billie, and her son eventually picked up the phone to inform me that “everything's all right. She's OK.” After the phone was handed back to Billie, I found it difficult to understand her, as she slurred many of her words, making incomprehensible statements. I surmised that she was likely under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, but, and more important at that moment, I determined that there was indeed some form of significant discord occurring in the home and against Billie. I asked Billie if she felt her physical well-being was in imminent danger,1 and she contended that it was not but that I was the only person she knew to call. This declaration by Billie supports other research on Black women that has suggested that they are unaware of or do

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