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PROFILE: Two Reach Across Racial Divide

One is white, and one is African American. Both deplore the lack of solid research on the subject of domestic violence and blacks.

Date: 2/17/2003
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-1826
UC ingot UC seniors in social work Nancy Lester and Nancy Green are both survivors of domestic abuse who have teamed up to make a difference in the lives of battered and abused women. They especially want to make an impact on the lives of African American women.

Nancy Green, left, and Nancy Green

One is white, and one is African American. Both deplore the lack of solid research on the subject of domestic violence and blacks. The two - both mothers and "non-traditional" college students - met when they both took a course in social work taught by assistant professor Ruby Lipscomb. Lester, a resident of Walnut Hills, is a grandmother, as well as a mother. Green is a mother of two and resides in Wyoming, Ohio. Both are students in the School of Social Work, where both the bachelor's program and the master's program are fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

"Dr. Lipscomb never let us settle for focusing on things we already knew were true. She energized us to look at other cultures and issues," said Lester, explaining her interest in the subject she is focusing on.

Green credits Lipscomb with instilling in her a greater appreciation of her own culture and how she, as a future social worker, can have an impact on African Americans and the care and treatment they receive.

Both Green and Lester found it difficult, however, to find much information that zeroed in on African Americans' experience with domestic violence. One statistic they did discover is from the 2000 U.S. Census - about 16 percent of African American women have been physically abused by a husband or partner in the last five years. Both social work students say that this data shows that it is a misperception that African Americans suffer from domestic violence at higher rates than white women.

More data and research is needed, the two students and their teacher say, so that social workers can better understand the issues and problems black women face. Then, more effective intervention and treatments can be developed.

"Domestic violence is a form of terrorism in our own homes and communities," says Lipscomb and Green, drawing parallels to another topic that is making headlines.

The shortage of data prompted the students to do their own research on domestic violence. Lester conducted face-to-face interviews with African American women in spring 2002. In her interviews, two of the most common reasons given for not reporting incidents of domestic abuse were that the interviewees feared the police and did not have confidence in the judicial system.

Lipscomb had previously presented at the Race, Gender and Class Conference. She encouraged Lester and Green to present at the 2002 conference at Southern University at New Orleans. Their work culminated in a presentation, "Domestic  Violence and African American Families: Implications for Social Work Practice," with Lipscomb. They hope to expand their study and will build upon this initial research in their future studies for their master's degrees.

After completing their master's, the two hope to co-found an agency that treats victims of domestic violence in a holistic way.

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