Domestic violence hits Black women harder

According to a recently released study, the weapon most used by men to kill African American women was a gun.

According to a recently released study, the weapon most used by men to kill African American women was a gun.

The Violence Policy Center, a national non-profit organization that conducts research on violence in the United States stated in its annual report, "When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2006 Homicide Data," that 551 African American women were murdered by males that year.

Of those homicides where a murder weapon could be identified, 305 of the victims were fatally shot and most during the course of an argument.

The study stated there were 1,818 race-identified females murdered by males. And while white women accounted for the largest total of those killed–1,208–African American women were killed at a rate nearly three times higher.

In Illinois, there were 39 domestic-related homicides and 114,921 reported cases of domestic violence in 2006.

Justine Gray* (real name withheld to protect her privacy) lived to tell about her repeated incidents of violence at the hands of a former boyfriend.

Gray said she was fresh out of college and had a 2-year-old son. She said it was hard to make ends meet while working, caring for her son and maintaining stable housing. The jobs she held paid barely above minimum wage, and she had little help from her family.

Then an old acquaintance came into the picture, and she thought things were starting to look up. They moved in together, created a two-income household and the man treated her son as if he were his own, she said.

“But jealousy kicked in for some odd reason, and I became a punching bag. I have no idea what set him off,” the now-married mother of three said.

She wanted to leave but could not bear no longer having a stable environment for her son. She initially thought she was to blame for his tirades, plus he threatened to kill her if she left.

“Even though I was working, it still wasn’t enough to put food on the table, pay the rent, the bills and pay for day care. He treated my son very well and was paying his child care costs. I don’t know where we went wrong,” Gray said.

The man hit her several times–a few times she was knocked unconscious. There were many times she had to wear sunglasses to hide the black eyes that sometimes never seemed to fade, she said about the “toxic” relationship.

About a year into the relationship, she mustered the courage to leave.

“It was the best decision I ever made. I just wish I had the nerve to do it sooner,” Gray said.

Domestic violence is a pattern of mental, physical, emotional or sexual abuse where one partner makes the other partner feel scared, weak, isolated, hurt or sad, according to Between Friends, a Chicago-based non-profit agency that provides educational and counseling services for domestic violence victims and advocates.

“One in three women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime so everybody probably knows someone who has been affected,” said Kathy Doherty, executive director of Between Friends.

Signs of abuse include jealousy, controlling behavior, isolation, forceful sex, and physical and verbal abuse.

“It is our responsibility to help others learn more about the issue and take action that will make a difference in the lives of the women and children affected by domestic violence,” Doherty said.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

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