The Black Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Domestic Violence by Shayonne J. Moore-Lobran and Robyn L. Gobin offers support for women who are or have been in abusive relationships while taking into account cultural factors within the Black community. Being neither a Black woman nor someone who’s experienced domestic violence, I’m not the target audience for this book, but I wanted to read and review it because I think it’s the kind of thing that’s important to put out there into the world.
The book begins with information about domestic violence. It addresses common myths like the idea that you should be able to just leave an abusive relationship or that sexual abuse can’t happen within an intimate relationship.
There’s a chapter devoted to why it can be very hard to leave abusive relationships; it covers abuse and control dynamics as well as emotions that can get in the way of leaving, such as fear, shame, and embarrassment. Other topics that the book addresses include building a sense of safety, learning how to trust oneself and others, being vulnerable, cultivating self-esteem, and letting go of shame and guilt. There are also tips on dealing with new relationships after abuse.
The authors discuss some of the unique challenges faced by Black women experiencing domestic violence. They write, “We are expected to be strong, self-sacrificing, and display no emotional distress in the face of daily life stress. Trained up from an early age, we become skilled at putting on a happy face, hiding our struggles and vulnerabilities, suppressing our emotions, and neglecting our own needs to help and protect others.” The expectation to be a “Strong Black Woman” can make people feel like they need to try to persevere and not seek help.
There may be pressure within the community, including within faith groups, to stay silent and endure hardships. Women seeking support from their pastor may find themselves subtly blamed or encouraged to stay with the abuser. Black women may also have learned that it’s not safe to trust the police, and they may be concerned that their Black abuser might not receive fair treatment in the criminal justice system.
The authors encourage readers to seek therapy. They acknowledge that women may have received messaging that faith in God is all they need to get through hardships, but they explain that spirituality and therapy can be complementary, and “going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re failing your faith.” The book also explores a variety of other strategies that can promote healing.
The final chapter is aimed at friends, family, clergy, and other supportive women who’ve experienced domestic violence. It includes tips on how to be supportive and avoid things like victim-blaming that only make things worse.
This book struck me as taking quite an empowering approach. It addressed a lot of barriers, both internal and external, that women who’ve experienced domestic violence are likely to face, and it offers strategies to help women work through them. Because it’s written by Black women for Black women, there’s an extra layer of cultural factors on top of the kind of information and strategies that are broadly appropriate for anyone who’s experienced domestic violence. There are journalling prompts throughout the book to explore the various concepts that are discussed and promote self-reflection.
I thought this book was well done, and I suspect that its target audience will feel like it speaks to them.
The Black Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Domestic Violence is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.
You may also be interested in my blogging friend Jaimarie’s post 9 Ways to Heal After An Abusive Relationship.