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Centering Equity for Intimate Partner Violence Survivors – Event in Review

Event: Centering Equity for Intimate Partner Violence Survivors: The Impact of Structural Racism and the Criminal Legal Response.

Host: The Centre for Gender & Sexual Health Equity (CGSHE)


1. Dr. Michele R. Decker (Bloomberg Professor of American Health in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)

2. Dr. Charvonne N. Holliday (Assistant Professor in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health).

Platform: Zoom

Date: November 18, 2021

Event in Review

Key facts:

  • 1 in 3 women are affected in the US

  • Approximately 6.9 million are affected yearly

  • Connected to homicide cases in women

  • Racialized communities are more likely to report abuse

  • Intimate partner violence is a leading cause of homelessness among women

The CGSHE hosts monthly events that disseminate various research findings on different topics. This particular event in focus was a part of an ongoing speaker series that highlights research in gender equity and sexual health to members of the general public. A mixed-methods research design is used to give insights into the influence of structural racism and gender discrimination on safety and response strategies among intimate partner violence survivors. Dr. Decker and Dr. Holliday broke down the issue by examining its biases, focusing on historical contexts of abuse, survivors’ engagement with preferences for justice systems, and the role of housing in achieving survivor safety and stability.

Dr. Decker began by tackling the intersectionality of gender and race using qualitative data in history, structure, community and interpersonal social factors. Findings suggested that fear of reporting to the police can stir from varied factors. For example, qualitative findings asserted that a Black female might not call the police out of fear of being at risk with her abuser. This implies that while calling the police is a necessary option, there are individual barriers around safety.

Dr. Holliday took over the discussion by pointing out issues around data collection in the national crime victimization survey. Data taken from 2011 and 2015 included 898 women. The data inferred that Black women are two times likely to report violence than White women while concluding that differences in reporting increase with age and whether the crime was sexual versus non-sexual. Contrastingly, feedback from focus groups implies inaccuracies in the data collection due to failure in reporting based on social disparities. For example, it is argued that a woman with a higher income is less likely to report than a woman with a lower income due to having fewer resources to report to. In these discussions, survivors proposed that Black women report more to the police because of increased life-threatening risks involved if not reported.

Leaving partners due to violence can lead to homelessness and is a leading cause of unstable housing among women. Research conducted through re-housing programs found that women who have more stability in housing were safer from harm; housing programs combated intimate partner violence by preventing residence in homes where these crimes are done. In contrast, relocating can impact safety and support (i.e., violence-prone environments and segregated environments). This highlights that structural work is needed in the justice and economic sectors to battle safety.

You can watch a recording of the event on YouTube:

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