“If you feel abused, then it’s abuse. You don’t have to be ‘Ike Turnered’ for it to be abuse,” panelist Sheletta Brundidge said during a candid virtual discussion on domestic violence. Hers was one of many memorable comments made during the roughly one-hour conversation in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The Oct. 14 show, “Breaking the Silence About Domestic Violence,” was the latest installment of the MSR’s digital town hall series “Forefront,” which aims to offer kitchen table conversations on the pressing topics of the day.
Brundidge, a veteran radio and TV personality and CEO of ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com, recalled a sobering account of the painful path of abuse she survived while in a relationship as a teen.
She cautioned, “We have got to start looking out for our Black girls—we can’t just assume that they are strong enough and they can take it, or they’ll figure it out. So many times, society turns a blind eye to little Black girls and what we have to do is shine a light on us. If we don’t do it, nobody else will.”
Indeed, a new Violence Policy Center study, ”When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2019 Homicide Data,” shows that nine out of 10 Black women murdered by men are killed by someone they know, and most often with a gun.
The study also found that in 2019, 501 Black females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents, at a rate of 2.34 per 100,000. In comparison, the rate for White women murdered by males for that year was 0.99 per 100,000.
Cases of domestic violence have reportedly only increased during the throes of the pandemic, as the abuser and abused were home together more often and economic hardships and unemployment caused additional stress in the home.
Violence Free Minnesota’s (VFM) newly released annual report “Homicide Report: Relationship Abuse in Minnesota” showed a 40% rise in domestic violence in 2020. The report also found disproportionate numbers of Black and Native domestic violence homicide victims compared to statewide demographics.
“In 2020, 40% of domestic violence homicide victims were Black, while comprising less than 7% of Minnesota’s population,” read the VFM report. “Four women were pregnant at the time they were killed by a current or former intimate partner, and three of them were Black. These violent disparities are attributed to histories of colonization, chattel slavery, genocide, generational trauma, and ongoing systematic oppression.”
Creating healing spaces
Panelist Tephanie Delaney, a business development coach and survivor of domestic violence, touched on the importance of doing the work to end generational trauma. She pointed out that unlike some unsuspecting young women, she was raised to have high standards in relationships, yet she fell prey to an abusive relationship.
“My mother, she trained me up, but she was unhealed,” Delaney shared. “She wasn’t healed from her own trauma, so I ended up living out my mother’s trauma. So, she’s just verbally telling us what we should do…but it had to come from the heart… [Otherwise] all you’re doing is just passing trauma and telling me how to avoid it—do as I say, not as I do.”
Manu Lewis, embodiment lifestyle recovery coach at ManUcan Consulting, LLC, rounded out the panel by providing a Black male perspective. He explained that for the last 11 years, he’s consulted men engaged in street life to break unhealthy lifestyle choices and patterns.
Lewis said men must also have a vision for themselves and spend time to understand the past traumas and triggers of their prospective mates before getting involved. He also pointed to having open conversations to break the cycle of abuse in the community.
“With men, what we need, and we’re developing this over North…where men can have processing space where we can talk outside the influences of just Black men. See how long you’re going to talk about you, without talking about her. Re-training our minds. We really need spaces to detoxify,” Lewis said.
Show host Stephenetta Harmon added that the neglect of mental health in the Black community, in general, contributes to the problem. She stressed the importance of normalizing “checking in with therapists” and seeking out counseling services when needed.
Brundidge echoed her sentiment: “That’s where White people get the jump on us, man. They even think about crying and they’re calling in somebody! We have to be under the table, ain’t ate in two weeks—it’s got to be really bad for us to get help!”
Delaney noted that she and co-organizer Brittney Kline are providing a space for community dialog and health resources at an upcoming event entitled “Breaking the Silence” in North Minneapolis. Six community organizations have partnered with the organizers to bring hope, healing, and awareness about domestic abuse.
By taking an intentional pause to heal, generational trauma can cease, noted Delaney. “Just as [kids] may see the trauma, if you’re intentional about the healing process, they see that, too. She recalled how her college-age son told her, “Ma, I see you.” She asked, “What do you see?”
He replied, “I see you trying to fix that broken heart.”
Watch the discussion at spokesman-recorder.com or the MSR’s Facebook or YouTube platforms.
The free event “Breaking the Silence” takes place from 6-9 pm on Oct. 28 at 121 Washington Ave. N. in Minneapolis. In-person space is limited. Pre-register by going to bit.ly/breakingthesilencemn.