In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

27 3 Dynamic Resistance “I’m a Strong Black Woman!” Beginning in her formative years, Billie was faced with a multitude of circumstances that she had to regularly resist. These battles not only included the intimate partner abuse she endured during adulthood but involved events during childhood that included combating child abuse by her mother, sexual molestation by her brother, and teasing by other school children because of her low-income class status. As she aged, Billie had to deal with recurrent financial stress, the authority of the criminal justice system, employment discrimination because of her arrest record , her alcohol and cocaine abuse, and physical health problems. She summed up her life by stating, “I’ve had a rough life. Now I go to church. I’m trying to get it together.” During our time together, Billie regularly spoke in a manner that encompassed her entire life, her entire life struggles , and the strength that she and other Black women must possess in order to contend with these difficulties. The general consensus among the women in the study was demonstrated by Billie’s declaration: “Black women are strong. They go through everything. From the time I could remember , Black women have been going through hell. White women have been pampered. . . . I think White women, they’ve got it so easy and Black women don’t.” The women I interviewed undoubtedly understood the gender disparities within society, in which all women are in a devalued position compared to that of men.1 They also overwhelmingly believed that they were at an even greater disadvantage than White women because of their race. Further, although understanding the place in which they, as Black women, are situated in the general social order and in relation to men in their immediate communities, the women consistently conveyed that they had a stronger conviction than White women in resisting the patriarchal hierarchy. The women’s observations of their life experiences typically 28 Dynamic Resistance intertwined their gender, race, and class locations. This supports the reality of Black women as individuals with intersecting identities. The women were asked to articulate how they believed they were different from other women and their circumstances different from the circumstances other women face. They compared themselves to battered and nonbattered women, typically using White women as their comparison base. Their self-depictions and descriptions of other Black women overwhelmingly included the use of the term “Strong Black Woman,” while White women and battered White women were often described as “weak.” In most cases, “Black woman” was synonymous with “strong woman.” The women were also acutely aware that in the view of other people one element of their identity might supersede another. For example, in their experiences, race often trumped gender in the views of non-Blacks.2 Employing a Black feminist criminology and interpretive approach to my study enabled me to genuinely listen to what the women were telling me and to develop a way of knowing how their lives as Black women affected the way they experienced all that comes with intimate partner abuse. Using these methods of Black feminist criminology and story telling led to the conceptual model of dynamic resistance. Dynamic resistance is the concept that links the varied and similar experiences and identities of battered Black women to provide improved understanding of their encounters with and reactions to the violent events in their lives and the existing support networks. Dynamic resistance will become even more evident as the reader progresses through the remainder of this book, where the model is clearly linked to the evaluations of the women’s formative life experiences (Chapter 4), encounters with battering and perceptions of the batterers (Chapter 5), rejection of victimization and physical efforts at resistance (Chapter 6), and resources used for departure from the abusive relationships (Chapter 7). Perceptions of Other Battered Women The women’s perspectives on other women and the ways some of them handled intimate partner abuse were based on several sources. First, general interaction with other women of color and White women served as a partial foundation for their opinions. This interaction was with women they encountered in daily associations within their communities. The extent of interaction with White individuals varied greatly among the women. They were raised in and lived in many types of communities across the United States and internationally, ranging from rural, mostly Dynamic Resistance 29 White towns to highly populated metropolitan neighborhoods that were predominantly Black and Latina/o. Yet none of the...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.