• Mandy Chitwood

Outside Looking In: A Deeper Look Into the BIPOC Community

What does BIPOC mean?

BIPOC is an umbrella term that stands for Black, Indigenous, & People Of Color.


It is pronounced “bye-pock”. The acronym is intended to identify the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and other groups of color in a person-first fashion. This acronym also leaves room open for those who identify with multiple groups of color. It also demonstrates solidarity between communities of color.


Finally, there is a term that can be used to describe all communities of color! If you have not heard of the term BIPOC before, it was developed within the last decade. Previously the term ‘minority’ described groups other than the white/Caucasian population. Using BIPOC brings the conversation to specific groups and also respects all who are within it.


BIPOC has surfaced among several communities, who now utilize the term to capture the challenges and experiences of black, indigenous, and people of color. Many people who identify in the BIPOC community struggle with systematic and structured racism.


You may use this term at any point when discussing topics pertaining to race, ethnicity, racism, discrimination, and any forms of prejudice in relation to this community.

What challenges do BIPOC domestic violence survivors face?

The challenges that BIPOC domestic violence survivors face are unique and different. Not every survivor of color identifies with or has the same experience. Survivors have distinctive racial and ethnic backgrounds, grow up in different socio-economic classes, and may encounter different racial, social, and economic barriers.


Essentially, these challenges stem from common themes, such as prejudicial beliefs and attitudes, lack of resources, and the stigma of domestic violence. Every individual’s experience varies on these factors, and can change case by case.


Here are some common experiences listed below:

  • Cultural and/or religious beliefs that could restrain the survivor from leaving an abusive relationship or speaking out against the abuse.

  • Fear that their experience will have negative stereotypes placed on their community.

  • Strong loyalty to one’s race, culture and/or family, which can make the survivor not report what happened.

  • Fear that their family may find out the impact of their assault or abuse and the survivor could shame themselves.

  • Economic disparities that communities of color experience. A survivor can struggle to find affordable, accessible, and supportive community service providers.

  • Lack of advocates or counselors who share common experiences, identify in that specific community, or are culturally competent with the community they are in

  • Language barriers when seeking or working with advocates and other service providers.


Challenges Pertaining to Black/African American Women


In this section, we are going to highlight the challenges of black women, due to the shocking amount of disparities in comparison to other races pertaining to domestic violence.


According to statistics pulled from the National Coalition of Domestic Violence (NCADV.org),

  • Black women are more than likely to die in the hands of their abuser

  • More than 40% of Black women have experienced intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.

  • More than half of Black adult female homicides are related to intimate partner violence.

These are only a few statistics that are alarming because Black communities have been historically marginalized, colonized, and objectified. There are still longstanding inequities that continuously target and damage black women. These are only a few statistics of how black women are at a higher risk of domestic violence and experience domestic violence at a disproportionately high rate.

As stated before, every survivor of color’s experiences may vary as a result of the particular challenges each one of them face. We encourage you to take a more in depth look at different races in order to grasp a better understanding of different cultures and gain more awareness of the specific challenges they encounter.


Why should you start using the term BIPOC?

Using the term BIPOC is more inclusive and acknowledges people of color in general, especially when discussing systematic racism. BIPOC communities are constantly being stigmatized that result in feelings of alienation, isolation, and rejection.


Our society has socially constructed many false narratives about certain racial groups that have allowed individuals, specifically white people, to justify what is right or wrong and what is good or bad. I have supported many clients who have struggled with all these barriers. They are often told that they are a failure and to simply get past the racist remarks, even though it is very present in their everyday lives.


Reflection time!

The sensitivity of race has caused many people in society to avoid having conversations about racial issues. It is important to self-reflect on issues of race because so many survivors struggle with challenges that are created by systems, communities, and people we interact with on a daily basis.


Here are some reflection questions to think about racial identity and the ideas about race:

  1. Do you believe that racism negatively impacts members of the BIPOC community? If so, how does privilege and power add to the reality of those affected?

  2. Do you primarily talk about or engage in empathetic conversations about race and simply listen?

  3. What are some ways to engage my story and experiences to shape the conversation?

  4. How do I bring my own racial identity to the table and process it?

It is important to evaluate the impact on one’s identity and ideas pertaining to race in order to create a safe atmosphere for people of color.