The Tides Are Turning

by Zwazzi Sowo, Women’s Center Program Manager

Zwazzi Sowo (right) and the women behind GLIDE Women’s Center Healing through Negro Spirituals Group

In late February, during a GLIDE Women’s Center Healing through Negro Spirituals/Domestic Violence Recovery Group, one client was sharing her recent experience with domestic violence from her boyfriend. She described how she was beaten badly in the streets while people were just walking by and watching. She described how alone and desperate she felt because no one did anything or even attempted to help her.

In my experience, it has been a  common occurrence for people to just stand by and watch while men, women, and children are attacked and beaten in the middle of the streets. In the past, people acted as if that was a private matter and was none of their business so they wouldn’t get involved.
I say, “in the past” because the tides are turning. In early March, I was on Fillmore Street in San Francisco and witnessed a vicious argument between a man and a woman. From behind me, three men came running to the man and surrounded him as a barrier between the man and the woman. A few moments later, two other men came running to the woman to try and calm her down and guide her away from the man. None of the men who came running to resolve the issue laid a hand on either person, they were simply acting as barricades to separate the man and woman to de-escalate the situation. As the two men were trying to calm her down, the woman pulled out a knife and tried to slash the front tires of her boyfriend’s car. The two men blocked her path. All the while, there was a little girl pulling at the woman’s arm saying, “for me, stop for me.”
Eventually the two men guided her and the little girl away while the other three men stayed with the boyfriend to try and calm him down. They were checking on the damage done to his car and asking if he had a spare tire to replace the tire that was slashed. He had a spare and the three men helped him change the tire.
This moment made me realize that the tides are turning. The community heroes are black men stepping up to protect people and stepping up against violence towards men and women.
Every 15 seconds in America, a woman is beaten. During the incident I witnessed, a woman was not beaten, a man was not stabbed, a child didn’t have to go to foster care, and no one went to jail because we have community heroes.

  • African American women experience domestic violence 35% more often than White women, and 22% more than women of other ethnicities
  • African American men experience domestic violence from African American women 67% more often that White men from White women
  • 7 million people are in the prison system or in correctional services within the United States

We can intervene for our community; we can all be heroes.