By: Ikeoma Divine

We all remember the infamous scene in the movie “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” better known as “The Tina Turner Movie,” where Ike Turner forces Tina to eat a piece of cake that she didn’t want to. In order to keep the peace, an intervening friend begged her to “Just eat the cake, Anna Mae!” Despite not wanting to eat the piece shoved in her face, she reluctantly bit a corner. To those familiar with the dynamics of domestic violence, eating that piece of cake was also symbolic of ingesting the abuse as we’re told so that everyone else can be comfortable. Even though everyone witnessed the abuse, it was still expected for this “Black Woman” (BW) to not resist and comply for everyone’s benefit. As so is the story of BW in the US.

Being a survivor of domestic violence, I know what abuse feels like. Because I escaped such situations and have lived free of abuse in my home, I know what freedom feels like. Although I’ve mastered living in a peaceful home, I still live in an abusive society -one which expects me to ingest the injustices that affect me while being silent and complacent. Signs of an abusive relationship usually consist of grooming, isolation, physical, mental and emotional abuse.

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Grooming and Isolation

  1. Initially abusers entrap their victims. They do so by love bombing and intense romance such as showing overwhelming attention, perfect chivalrous behavior, and gift giving. America does the same thing by using propaganda as a means to seduce us into the infamous “American Dream” of wanting to achieve a “luxury” lifestyle with huge houses, expensive cars, and designer clothes shown on television. The people living these lifestyles are shown with big smiles on their faces as if their money is making them happy.  The abuser/ society knows that there is not only a nonmonetary price to pay but the victim will be so engrossed in the benefits that they ignore the abuse. The abuse is the countless hours one has to use which eventually takes a toll on their physical, mental, and emotional energy in the name of work or living “The American Dream.” For those who are lucky enough to live to reach retirement age, most have poor health due to years of unnatural, chronic stress secondary to this lifestyle. How many people retire with uncontrolled high blood pressure?
  • Abusers also groom family and friends to cut ties with the victim so that no one will believe the abuse to the victim… a form of isolation. This can be done by acting very charming to everyone else and sometimes making up lies to ruin their victim’s reputation. They will strategically make up stories and twist scenarios to make the victim look incompetent and crazy. This is very common in abusive relationships. I was made aware of the negative international publicity about African Americans when I went to Ghana in 2006 and was asked how it felt to be in a drive-by and how lucky I was to have the government take care of my children, so I didn’t have to work. For the record, I’ve never experienced a drive-by nor do I know anyone who has. The government did not take care of my children, me, nor my parents. This is why many come to the United States with a disdain towards African Americans. The negative propaganda is not only prevalent but is almost engraved in the beliefs of many immigrants before arrival.  This creates a divisive community between those who have recently arrived and those who have been here. So, the new immigrants also have no sympathy with the abuse witnessed and may even participate.

Physical abuse

Unfortunately, a lot of women are killed at the hands of their domestic abusers. It’s not uncommon for victims to be beaten, shot and even killed in their homes. Unfortunately, because of the grooming from the abuser, many times the victim’s family and friends will not intervene. Many will go as far as blame the victim. Even though we have cameras today that record these violent acts, we’re still blamed or ignored for such tragedies. What is so appalling is that there can be overwhelming evidence of our abuse, such as Megan Thee Stallion having medical records confirming gunshot wounds in her feet, yet she was still expected to cover up for her abuser (which she initially did) and take the blame for the abuse.  Because of social conditioning, it’s considered normal behavior to validate a BW abuse due to her sexual history and marital status. Instead, we need to stop protecting our abusers; stop shaming the victims, and report those who put us in harm or danger. We need to demand justice with the same vengeance and solidarity as we do others.

Mental and Emotional abuse

Many are hyper-critical or judgmental about ANYTHING we do. First, we were labeled “Crackhead Welfare Queens,” despite the fact that we were never the majority on welfare. Now that BWs are, statistically, the most educated minority in the US, we’re considered “masculine” because our educations afford us better economic opportunities.   Dismissing us and our feelings is also considered emotional abuse.  Too many times, major decisions have been made that affect our lives without giving us a seat at the table. We’re told to vote for certain politicians and parties in order to change our living conditions. Yet, the politicians that we vote into office, after pandering to us during their campaigns, refuse to funnel resources specifically to the Black American community unlike other “disadvantaged” groups. Another tactic is gaslighting BW by telling us that we’re not attractive while uplifting other women who imitate our natural attributes, mannerisms, and styles. When men of other races find us attractive, we’re told that they’re only fetishizing us because no one would see us as beautiful nor love us because we’re not worthy. Meanwhile, there are so many BW stepping out of their comfort zones and finding love within other races, countries and cultures.


Just like any of my previous abusive situations, I became “Sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Traveling internationally allowed me to experience life as an American and not as a stereotypical BW in America. The latter, full of disrespect. It’s time we not only acknowledge our situations but do something about them. We have to become the support system to other BW that we would like to have for ourselves. Explore opportunities outside of our comfort zones such as international traveling – learning new languages and cultures. BW are not a monolith. We are more than the over sexualized, negative stereotypes that US propaganda has fed the world about us. We thrive under the most brutal circumstances…. walking away like Angela Bassett as she set that BMW on fire in Waiting to Exhale. It’s time we stop “Eating the cake”, speak our truth unapologetically, be loyal to ourselves and live authentically without caring about who is uncomfortable with our happiness. We deserve it.