Death is tragic, but when it is someone you know it is even more devastating. I along with many others are still in shock after hearing about the senseless murder of Michelle Avan. This shining light and rising star was murdered. The man who has been charged with this ruthless and hideous act of violence was someone she knew. The news of her death has made me angry, intensely sad and overwhelmed with the realization that Black women face a particularly high risk of being killed at the hands of a man and nine in ten Black female victims knew their killers. Kandee Lewis, President of the Positive Results Center, Inc. (PRC) stated, Black women accounted for 22% of the intimate partner homicide victims, according to the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community. The unfortunate reality is homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women aged 44 years old and younger, according to the CDC.
As a Black woman who has feared for her own safety in relationships, I am shocked by some of the statistics concerning Black women and violence. More than four in ten Black women experience physical violence from an intimate partner during their lifetimes. Black women also experience significantly higher rates of psychological abuse—including humiliation, insults, name-calling, and coercive control—than do women overall. More than 20% of Black women are raped during their lifetime. Nearly 1 in 5 Black women experienced stalking in their lifetime. This concerns me because of the work we do with young girls of color through Forgiving For Living, Inc. Our goal is to provide them with tools to live a safe and healthy life.
Why are so many Black women experiencing verbal, mental, physical and sexual violence? Why are these victims suffering in silence? Here are some reasons why Black women oftentimes are hesitant to speak up when they feel they may be in a precarious position in a relationship; pride, ego, fear of repercussions, work fallout, family judgement and in total denial that it is happening. Black women must seek support when faced with violence. We must overcome the fear of reporting someone because we do not want them to get in trouble. We must out grow the fantasy of hoping they will change. We must use the police, social services, women’s programs, friends and any means necessary to stop the abuse. Some women feel they are right not to report incidents of violence and unfortunately, it is too late when they realize they were dead wrong. Black women must immediately press charges when they are a victim of violence. I also caution all women to do their due diligence before they accept someone into their personal and intimate space. Remember everything that glitters is not gold. There are too many 18 carat fools out her masquerading as the real thing. Make sure you inspect what you expect.
My prayers go out to Michelle’s mother, children, grandchild, and relatives who have lost a caring, loving, kind, classy and amazing family member. I will always remember her warm smile, pleasant personality, desire to help the community and a friend to many. Though we anguish over her death we should also celebrate her 48 years on this earth. She made an impact, she made a difference, she made a contribution, and her legacy will be one of professionalism, high standards, ethical business practices and a right and true moral compass. #justice4michelle
Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on.