Women of Color

In general, violence committed against women of color is usually seen as insignificant. Historically and into the present, women of color have been thought to be "unrapeable" - lacking the basic respectability that enables them to be believable victims.

When a woman of color is raped, she must be particularly concerned with being believed, supported and assisted by the police, social service agencies and our society in general. Women of color are often less likely to report sexual assault because of the institutionalized racism they encounter in the criminal justice system, social service agencies, the medical system, and elsewhere. Rarely will a woman of color be greeted in an emergency room, doctor's office, or rape crisis center by a women of her own race or ethnic group or even by someone who has been specially trained to be sensitive to her needs.

Survivors who are women of color face obstacles in getting assistance that Caucasian women do not have to face.

The following myths are some of the misperceptions that exist in regards to women of color and sexual assault.

Myth: Women of color don't get raped.
Fact:Women of color do get raped. In fact some studies show that women of color are more susceptible to sexual violence than white women.

Myth: Women of color are promiscuous, not respectable, so if they get raped, they were "asking for it".
Fact: Women of color are not more sexually promiscuous than white women. Regardless, nothing in any women's behavior invites or justifies rape.

Myth: Black, Latino, and Chicano cultures are violent: therefore women in these cultures experience the violence of rape as "natural".
Fact: Black, Latino, and Chicano cultures are no more violent than White culture - even though racist stereotypes and the mainstream media often portray themselves as such. No matter what the level of violence in a culture, rape is never acceptable.

Additional Resources for Women of Color Survivors:

*reproduced with permission from AfroLez Production' Book Resource List: http://www.notherapedocumentary.org

The Black Woman: An Anthology (Washington Square Press, 2004) Toni Cade Bambara Editor with an introduction by Dr. Eleanor Traylor

Compelled to Crime: The Gender Entrapment of Battered Black Women (Routledge Press, 1996). Beth E. Richie, Ph.D.

The Dinah Project: A Handbook for Congregational Response to Sexual Violence (Pilgrim Press, 2004). Rev. Monica Coleman, Ph.D.

I WILL SURVIVE: The African-American Guide to Healing from Sexual Assault and Abuse (http://www.lorirobinson.com) (Seal Press Feminist Publishers, 2003). Lori Robinson, with a forward by Julia A. Boyd

The Marginalization of Sexual Violence Against Black Women National Coalition Against Sexual Assault Journal 2 (1994), 1-8 Kimberle Williams Crenshaw

NO SECRETS NO LIES: How Black Families Can Heal from Sexual Abuse (Broadway Books, 2004) Robin D. Stone, with a forward by Dr. Jocelyn Elders

Still Lifting, Still Climbing: African American Women's Contemporary Activism (New York University Press, 1999) Kimberly Springer, editor

SURVIVING THE SILENCE: Black Women's Stories of Rape (WW Norton & Co, 1998) by Charlotte Pierce-Baker, Ph.D.

Violence in the Lives of Black Women: Battered, Black, and Blue (Haworth Press, 2003) Carolyn West, Ph.D., editor

Wounds of the Spirit: Black Women, Violence, and Resistance Ethics (New York University Press, 1999). Rev. Traci C. West, Ph.D.