Black women, the forgotten survivors of sexual assault

African American women are at disproportionate risk of sexual violence. Here’s how you can help.

The year was 1944. 

Recy Taylor was walking home from a church meeting in Abbeville, Alabama with two other churchgoers when she was terrorized by seven white men in a green Chevrolet truck, snatched by them, taken to a secluded area and assaulted and raped, being told to “act like you do, with your husband or I’ll cut your damn throat.” (as told by Recy Taylor in McGuire, 2010) According to McGuire (2010), the NAACP sent their best investigator, Rosa Parks, to what was her father’s hometown to explore what happened. Her efforts resulted in the formation of the Committee for Equal Justice, which later became known as the Montgomery Improvement Association. In fact, “the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, often heralded as the opening scene of the civil rights movement, was in many ways the last act of a decades-long struggle to protect [B]lack women, like Taylor, from sexualized violence and rape.” (McGuire, 2010; digital location 186). The social movement widely described as the Civil Rights Movement, emerged out of black women demanding control over their bodies and lives, black men being killed for protecting black women, or ultimately, the fight for black women’s bodies and agency and against white supremacist rape and assault. 

Eight decades later, black women still need protection from sexual violence, despite the Civil Rights Movement. According to the National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community (PDF, 772KB):

  • For every black woman who reports rape, at least 15 black women do not report.
  • One in four black girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • One in five black women are survivors of rape.
  • Thirty-five percent of black women experienced some form of contact sexual violence during their lifetime.
  • Forty to sixty percent of black women report being subjected to coercive sexual contact by age 18.
  • Seventeen percent of black women experienced sexual violence other than rape by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Read the full story here: https://www.apa.org/pi/about/newsletter/2020/02/black-women-sexual-assault

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