The Women’s Freedom Center affirms inherent racism in all systems and is committed to its eradication in both the culture at large and its own policies and practices. As such, we believe it is essential to acknowledge how the mainstream movement to end violence has often failed and harmed women of color.
The Battered Women’s Movement began in the 1960s at the intersection of the Women’s Liberation Movement and the organizing of women experiencing violence. In its effort to seek solutions to gender-based violence and move it from a private matter to a societal one, the white and middle-class-led leadership of the movement often ignored the issue of race. It increasingly relied on legislation, the state, and law enforcement to help address women’s safety even as critiques pointed to how those solutions harmed communities of color; employing the kind of domination and oppression the movement stood against and complicity in perpetrating violence against women, including routine sexual violence through the institution of slavery, eugenics practice, and police brutality.
It was the Black-left feminist tradition within the 1970s and1980s that was instrumental in broadening the lens of intimate partner violence and sexual assault, asserting that women’s circumstances needed to be understood alongside issues of race, class, gender, and other power structures that reproduce inequities within capitalism
As an anti-violence organization that recognizes survivors as the experts on their own lives, the Women’s Freedom Center believes that this widened analysis allows the diversity of women’s experiences and differing vulnerability levels to be better understood. It also informs our work in meeting survivors where they are and offering supports based on their individual circumstances, needs, and desires.
In our feminist, anti-racist work to end gender-based violence, we recognize that it is essential to support and strengthen ties with other social justice groups and commit ourselves to continual learning and action.