Love Shouldn't Hurt
A Perspective on Abuse Within a Culture and Community
In light of the new Lifetime series Surviving R. Kelly, there have been a lot of social media conversations regarding the way we handle abuse allegations in the Black community.
The topic of abuse covers an array of sub-sections such as verbal, physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and psychological. From first-hand experience and third-party accounts, we are able to conclude that these various types of abuse are handled on the same level within the Black culture. Physical abuse from parents to children are often viewed as strict discipline.
In the community, many prominent comedic figures relate to physical abuse with jest, suggesting that the violence is a norm for Black people and that it’s part of being Black. They make light of parents using shoes, extension cords, belts, and switches selected from a tree in the yard, among other weapons, to inflict pain masked as discipline onto their children.
They are able to make light of these situations because this was a norm for them and the people in their community and no one ever told them that it was wrong and that there are better means to discipline a child.
Verbal abuse goes along with mental abuse. It also plays its own role in physical abuse. The combination of the two is a huge detriment. Cursing at the children and using disrespectful, degrading, demeaning, and disparaging words towards children could lead to a lifetime of issues for a child. Low self-esteem, drug use, and being abusive toward their own children and partners are among some of the consequences abuse victims must endure.
Another major issue amongst abuse victims is the fact that they often live in fear and mistrust. The psychological effects outweigh all other effects of trauma because it is lasting and requires time to mend. Some victims may never heal from their assault and anything around them could trigger anxiety, panic attacks, hypervigilance, and other symptoms of PTSD.
Within the Black community, abuse is often overlooked or turned into instances of victim blaming so victims tend to keep assaults to themselves. In terms of sexual assault or abuse within the family, victims tell tales of not being believed or that they caused it to happen. Others tell stories of blaming themselves for the occurrence and not coming forward because of shame and guilt.
That same shame and guilt leads to toxic relationships in the future and often failed or even abusive relationships where the victims now become the abuser. This cycle will continue until someone becomes brave enough to stand up and speak out with no regard to the perceived consequences or repercussions.
It is not easy for abuse victims to come forward. Therefore, whenever they come forward, they should be received with acceptance and judgment-free. Because of the stigma surrounding abuse victims, they feel victimized again coming forward and have their trauma dismissed or questioned.
A major disadvantage blacks face as a people is the legacy of abuse instilled during slavery and the Jim Crow era. Slave masters used physical and sexual assault and abuse along with degrading language to control their slaves. These forms of subcultures grew through the Jim Crow era and segregation and became a norm. Blacks use those disparaging terms to control their children along with physical abuse. They often quote the Bible to defend or justify their actions. Sexual predators within the family rely on strict discipline and authoritative power to keep their victims quiet and obedient.
Within media and entertainment, the abusive lifestyle is prominent in film, music, and subcultures such as hip-hop. It is rare for young men with the black community to see heroes look like them and carry themselves with respect and dignity.
Degrading women and children is just the beginning of the abuse cycle. Disrespecting parents, other adults, or authority figures confirm the path of abuse.
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