When Anita Hill raised her hand to be sworn in at the 1991 congressional hearings to recall the years of victimization and abuse she suffered under her former supervisor Clarence Thomas, it was one of the first public instances on the national stage where a Black woman’s credibility was put on center stage, in regards to sexual assault.
And then in January, when several of R. Kelly’s accusers came forward to tell their story in the Lifetime documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, the question of a Black woman’s credibility was brought up again.
Many did not believe these women at the time of their testimonies and many still do not.
And then on Tuesday, a woman named Britney Taylor accused NFL star of sexual harassment and rape over the course of one year while she served as his trainer.
But the criticism of Taylor was swift and quick, just like the many women who have stood in shoes worn before her. While Brown is innocent until proven guilty, the absence of guilt is rarely reserved for the accuser.
The questions remain the same. Why didn’t she go to the police? Why didn’t she leave her job? Why didn’t she stop communicating with the accused? People then go to great lengths to find out dark secrets of the accusers past, or ponder on their allegiances in order to justify their disbelief.
A social media user posted a montage video of Taylor and Brown, stating that because they were seen in close proximity on several occasions, that whatever sexual occurrence they had must have been consensual.
Conversations surrounding victims of sexual violence are valid and need to continue to be had. However, there is no sure-fire solution or explanation that will satisfy a critic. As numerous accounts and studies have shown, victims are likely to remain in abusive situations because of their close proximity to abuser, whether it be familial or familiar. Manipulation and gas lighting also play a large role in the cycle of abuse. In addition, power, money and affluence also play a fundamental role when added to the toxic revolving door which are used by abusers.
From slavery until current day, Black women are still heralded as overtly sexual, and prone to take copious amounts of pain. Like anti-Blackness, these thoughts are shared within the Black community and abroad. It is digested and spewed out as effortlessly without a flinch. And in the history of America no other group has struggled to find autonomy over their physical body as Black women have. And in the same vein, no other group has been so easily disbelieved and discarded.