Domestic Violence: Healing Black Women
By Dianne Anderson
Domestic violence, family violence, sexual violence against children – it’s all in close proximity to Kandee Lewis.
This month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, her nonprofit explores the darker side of something that everyone has had in common over the past nearly two years of COVID-19.
A lot has happened behind closed doors.
Sheltering at home has not been a safe place for victims of abuse, unable to get out of the house, to get away to the job, or for children to escape to school to get some relief from their abuser.
For them, COVID-19 has severely increased their violence and trauma.
She is inviting Black women to participate in Healing through Trauma, a culturally specific art-based healing program. Through recent funding from Orange County Community Foundation, they will hold regular workshops through November.
She said that healing through live plants will provide a safe space for women to share their truth, to create a plant sanctuary or planter, and capture the moment in paint and art.
“We bring out the bling-bling. They’ll be able to design their own pot, and take the plant they want and take care of it,” said Lewis, Executive Director of the nonprofit Positive Results Center.
Abuse in relationships starts early, Lewis explains.
In high school, teens that watched their own parents abused tend to replay abusive relationships. Young women that were abused in their teens are likely to see that abuse increased by 66% when she becomes pregnant.
The result is that their babies have been stressed from inception, and have a harder time bonding with their mothers.
Lewis said abuse starts in the womb.
“If I’m getting beaten and abused while I’m pregnant, guess who else is getting beaten and abused?” said Lewis, a certified domestic violence and sexual assault prevention advocate.
As the cycle of abuse repeats through the generations, it becomes more twisted with the sexual abuse of young children.
“One in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. 82% of all victims under 18 are female,” according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Black girls, in particular, become “adultized” very early, Lewis said, “That means people are hitting on her, talking about her booty and her body in the form of her being a grown woman.”
Lewis, also Civil and Human Rights Commissioner with the City of Los Angeles, said the only way to change the trajectory of abuse is when the community and family believe the victim.
“Too often we will blame the victim, we’ll say that’s not happening, you’re a liar,” she said. “I tell people to listen without judgment. Far too often we don’t believe it until that person winds up dead, or in the emergency room.”
Girls as young as seven years old have been witnessed by teachers and classmates on Zoom, sexually assaulted during the pandemic, and those cases are now in the courts. In that first month, households forgot the cameras were rolling.
“There was an explosion of children being sexually assaulted on camera,” she said. “Stranger danger is only 21% of violence that means 79% of all violence is by someone we know that is supposed to love and protect us.”
Community and providers also need to better understand the dynamics of domestic violence, and recognize the signs, and believe.
“If someone sexually assaults us, it’s what did you do? What were you wearing? Why were you out? That’s for everyone, but more so for Black women,” she said.
Domestic violence statistics are getting worse, not better, she said. Every nine seconds a woman in the U.S. is beaten or assaulted, and the statistics only reflect those who report it. Often, the predator is not prosecuted.
She said that the data only includes women in the U.S., and only women. Those under 12 are not included in that number.
“When we start talking about Black women, we know that 29% are victimized by intimate partner violence, that includes rape physical assault and stalking,” she said.
Since the COVID shutdown, her organization has served about 7,300 people, mostly through virtual workshops and individual events. Coming up, they are hosting Girl Talk Real Talk for Black and Brown girls.
Her main focus is trauma from a cultural and age perspective to develop healthy relationships, creating leaders and awareness to prevent and end all forms of intimate and dating violence sexual assault.
They work with all ages as young as four years old to the eighties. She said in the Orange County outreach, she wants to create awareness about what trauma is, peer advocates, and also to work with educators and providers.
“Too often, you have a person to look at a Black kid and say they’re stupid or lazy. They’re not, they’re traumatized,” she said.
For more on the upcoming Domestic Violence Awareness and healing events, see
For more information on violence against women, see
and violence against children, see https://www.rainn.org/statistics/children-and-teens