In early November, Emmy Award winner Lauren “Keke” Palmer requested a domestic violence restraining order against her ex-boyfriend, Darius Jackson. According to AP News, the court filing alleges several incidents where Palmer “suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands” of Jackson.
“On Sunday, November 5, Darius trespassed into my home, physically attacked me, knocked me over my couch and pinned me down, and stole my phone after I threatened to call the police. This was all caught on home surveillance video,” the filing read.
When Black women around the country yell, “protect Black women,” it isn’t just for the fun of it. As news surrounding Keke Palmer and Cassie has become public knowledge, one thing has become clearer: Now is the time to protect Black women.
The relationship between Palmer and Jackson started back in June 2021 and ended in October 2023; it also bore their son, Leodis Andrellton Jackson, for whom Palmer is seeking sole legal custody. The filing details an incident of Jackson allegedly “getting rough” with their child while changing his diaper, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Given Darius’ uncontrolled, violent outbursts in the past whenever he became jealous, I became seriously concerned he would hurt our son, even if it was just to hurt me,” Palmer says in the declaration. After Palmer stepped in resulting in a “tug of war” action with the child, Jackson eventually allowed Palmer to finish the diaper change. As she was finishing up, Palmer claims Jackson hit her on the head before leaving the room, according to Daily Mail.
Unfortunately, news of Palmer’s alleged abuse hasn’t been the only maltreatment against Black women exposed in the limelight.
On November 16, singer and songwriter Casandra Ventura—famously known as Cassie—filed a lawsuit against media mogul, Sean “Diddy” Combs. Page Six reports that the suit alleges their decade-long relationship included rape, sex trafficking, and beatings. “After years in silence and darkness, I am finally ready to tell my story,” Ventura said, according to AP News, “To speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships.”
The suit, which came with a trigger warning attached, states that Diddy “savagely” beat Cassie, gave her drugs, and forced her to have sexual intercourse with various men as he watched, filmed, and masturbated. “In 2018, the suit says, near the end of their relationship, Mr. Combs forced his way into her home and raped her,” according to The New York Times.
The National Coalition against Domestic Violence shared that “45.1% of Black women experienced physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking from their intimate partner,” and “31.8% of Black women have experienced one or more of the following intimate partner violence-related impacts: being fearful, concerned for safety, any post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, injury, need for medical care, housing services, victim advocate services, and/or legal services, missed at least 1 day of work or school, and contacting a crisis hotline.”
We cannot deny that domestic violence is a health crisis amongst Black women. The alleged abuses that both Cassie and Keke Palmer experienced tell the tale of many—how Black women will quietly endure abuse at the hands of those they are romantically involved with, for a plethora of reasons.
While both Black men and women experience racism in America, it’s typically agreed upon that sexism is not as important. Feeling like they owe it to Black men to protect them from American prisons, Black women will sacrifice themselves and their health out of an obligation to their race. “On average, Black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men, with Black women 1.4 times more likely to be killed than their white counterparts,” according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
A recent example of this was when Megan Thee Stallion came out about being shot by Tory Lanez. She initially told officials that she stepped on glass because her first mind was to protect herself and her shooter from the police. “I was lying to protect all of us [from the police]” she told Gayle King in an exclusive interview with CBS Mornings, “and sometimes I wish I would have never said that.”
On the other side of Black women allowing their stories to be untold, is the ugly truth of victim blaming, something we also saw happen when Megan came forward. As people called her every name in the book and refused to believe her account of the events from that night, even after Lanez was found guilty by a jury for having shot her.
When Black women speak up, there are always outsiders looking to poke holes in their stories. When news of Cassie’s lawsuit came to light, people questioned why she waited so long. Then when Diddy settled the suit the very next day, people criticized Cassie for only being after the money—despite her having filed under the now-expired Adult Survivors Act in New York which allowed victims to sue their abusers even though the statute of limitations had passed.
Other underlying factors that contribute to Black women not reporting their abuse or sometimes not leaving their situation include faith and finances. There are some spiritual beliefs where women are made to feel like they are required to stay with their partners through whatever, even abuse. Economic disparities also increase the risk factor of domestic violence in relationships.
We’re oftentimes labeled as “strong” or “angry.” And because of those images, it’s hard for society to visualize Black women as helpless, fragile, or victims; those stereotypes allow Black women to be three times more likely to die than their white counterparts as a result of domestic violence. But enough is enough.
Malcolm X once said, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” While this statement was made in 1962, it still rings true 61 years later. It’s imperative that we utilize our voices and platforms to advocate for the protection of Black women.