For over 20 years, YWCA dedicates one week in October as A Week Without Violence. From October 16th to the 20th, the organization holds events, shares information and stories, advocates, and does much more to bring awareness to racial minorities who are victims of domestic abuse.
Domestic violence is defined as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another.” One in four women will be victims of domestic abuse in her lifetime, and every day, three women will die at the hands of their partners. Women of color have it much worse: black women experience domestic violence 35 percent more than white women, and 60 percent of black women experience sexual abuse before they reach age 18. This is why YWCA works hard to eliminate racism and strives to empower women. YWCA assists more than 530,000 survivors every year amongst their 215 YWCA associations.
With a long history of racial prejudices and institutionalized discrimination, we see an alarming amount of poverty in predominately black communities. Higher rates of poverty have been correlated to having higher rates of domestic abuse cases. This makes it extremely difficult for women of color to obtain the resources they need in order to be safe from violence. Women of color also have a major distrust with law enforcement, making them feel uncomfortable by the idea of calling the police for help if needed. The women report that “police can oftentimes escalate, rather than diffuse, the situation.” This puts women of color in a quandary, which ultimately puts their safety at an extreme risk.
Immigrants are also hesitant to trust law enforcement, as they run the risk of deportation if they report domestic violence or get medical attention as a result of abuse. Earlier this year, ICE illegally detained a woman from El Paso after she tried to get a protective order against an abusive boyfriend. These women have to pick between domestic abuse and leaving their homes, making government assistance almost impossible while instilling fear into women who have nowhere to turn.
As long as domestic abuse and violence exist, YWCA will continue hosting A Week Without Violence every October. The first steps are to focus on racial justice to lower the drastic amount of violence against women in minority groups, and then turn to gender justice to achieve a world without violence.
Women and men need to look out for the women who have difficulties getting access to proper resources and making their voices heard. Located on their website, YWCA has provided a list of ways people can help to make a difference, which includes “creat[ing] a plan of action” for how to best aid abuse survivors, hosting conversational panels with “local leaders, advocates, experts, and other stakeholders,” orchestrating local events to raise awareness, like “a march, film screening, or art exhibit,” or even just discussing your own education on domestic violence via social media.
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