This qualitative investigation utilized open-ended questions to focus on women's perceptions of empowerment, condom use and relationship dynamics among a convenience sample of one hundred ninety-five African American women. Several themes emerged for reasons some women felt empowered to demand safe sex, including concerns about (sexually transmitted infections) STIs or pregnancy, social support, and role models. Other emergent themes addressed reasons women felt they were unable to demand safe sex, including fear of losing a partner, and viewing unprotected sex as a sign of a committed relationship. The findings contribute to understanding of factors that affect some African American women's risk for HIV infection, specifically regarding condom use behaviors.