Black Women and Black Lives Matter: Fighting Police Misconduct in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Cases

Photo by Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr
In the year since Ferguson, we have been reminded that police misconduct and brutality don't discriminate, at least not based on gender. We know that Black women, like Sandra Bland and others before her, aren’t spared from police violence. Several commentators, including Charles BlowLisalyn Jacobs, and Roxane Gay, have authored profound pieces about Black women’s experiences and the cloak of invisibility that too often surrounds them, particularly when the discussion turns to violence, police misconduct, and holding law enforcement accountable.
Fortunately, that is changing. #SayHerName has elevated and honored Black women’s experiences and the dynamic #BlackLivesMatter social justice movement has broadened the conversation to highlight the many ways in which all Black people are affected by violence, police misconduct, and injustice. 
But the lens must expand even further. When we speak of the reality of Black women’s lives and efforts to reform the criminal justice system, we must continue to also speak about gender bias in policing and how it results in improper, and often illegal, police responses to domestic violence and sexual assault cases. 
The reality is domestic violence-related calls constitute the single largest category of calls received by the police. Over one million women are sexually assaulted each year, and more than a third of women are subjected to rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. And have no doubt: Black women and other women of color are disproportionately impacted.

Here are just a handful of stories about police misconduct in domestic violence and sexual assault cases that acknowledge the experiences of women at the intersection of racial and gender biased policing:
  • In Detroit, researchers documented how stereotyping of sexual assault victims – a significant percentage of whom were African-American – led to poor criminal investigations and failure by police to submit thousands of sexual assault kits for testing. 
  • In Oklahoma, 13 women reported that a police officer sexually molested them while he was on duty; that officer now faces 36 charges including felony rape, forcible oral sodomy and sexual battery.
  • In Puerto Rico, the police department systematically underreported rape crimes and rarely took action when their own officers committed domestic violence, allowing 84 officers who had been arrested two or more times for domestic violence to remain active.
  • In Norristown, PA, Lakisha Briggs, an African-American woman, faced eviction because police concluded that acts of domestic violence perpetrated against her – including a stabbing that required her to be taken by helicopter to a trauma center – should be considered nuisances under a local ordinance. 
There are countless stories just like these and even more that are untold or forgotten. These types of discriminatory police practices – abuses committed by officers, refusal to enforce established laws, misclassification or dismissal of domestic violence or sexual assault complaints – are deeply harmful and violate victims’ civil rights. They jeopardize women’s lives and safety, undermine efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault, reduce confidence in the criminal justice system, and further the perpetuation of violence by discouraging victims from coming forward and allowing abusers to continue to commit crimes with impunity.  
In spite of these troubling patterns, systemic discrimination by law enforcement is receiving attention due to the critical dialogue sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement. Indeed, The U.S. Department of Justice has highlighted and investigated gender-biased policing. And just last month the ACLU took lead in drafting a letter signed by 88 national organizations and 98 state and local groups asking DOJ to issue guidance to law enforcement agencies about how to ensure that their policies and practices are free of gender bias. These harmful and violative practices will not disappear on their own. We hope DOJ will act soon.
Until then, we will keep fighting. 
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Ed Harrison

While I agree that our police forces need a cultural change, I think the outrage over "all lives matter" indicates a culture that subscribes to "white lives don't matter." Recent killings of unarmed white kids have been ignored as if they are unimportant.


WHY does this BLACKLIVESMATTER organization think it is OK to violate the RIGHTS of others,

A Thorpe

I agree with many points that are stated in this article and enjoyed reading this. Police misconduct towards cases that evolve African American women as well as domestic violence tend to be looked at differently based on who is looking at them. I believe that the police departments should be required to take cultural and sensitivity classes to help them understand the people that they are supposed to be sworn to protect and serve. The #BlackLivesMatter campaign is not saying that white lives do not matter it is simply a form of protest for people with darker skin being that they are constantly subject of police brutality.


This is very hard for every black women and racism is such a cruel thing. I would like to share this new fake sonogram videos from fakeababy. The best gift and the perfect buddy for your gags. It is absolutely stunning and amazing. Check it out now.

Jefferson Parham

As a dark lady in America, this development is on a very basic level about my life and the lives of those I cherish. I've taken an interest in understudy drove activities—like bite the dust ins and online networking efforts—and I view myself as an understudy of all these astonishing activists. I am a darling spectator and a member to the degree that I fuse the development in my instructing and urge my understudies to get included.
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As of late, the passings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and others have assembled a phenomenal mass development against police severity and bigotry that we now know as Black Lives Matter. For more information please visit to our website


Why there is urge to have protests like this. I truly support with the women who protest because It is because of the way you treat them makes them to say so. All people are equal and are created different by the god. So why should be there a comparison between white and black. I am writer working with and you can contact us if you wish to read get about your conditions on our writings.

Florence Willburn

We all are human beings the creation of god, No one have the extra right. All have equal rights to live in this world. We need to respond against this worst activity.


Color discrimination is a highly discussed topic. In this article, the author pointing to a significant issue.


Black women and black lives - this is a very complicated issue. Black women have rights to lead a better life but the problem is the way society treat them.


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