Breaking Free: Helping African Americans de-stigmatize abuse, learn to ask the right questions

Breaking Free from domestic violence (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

A survivor of domestic abuse, Dr. Conti Terrell started Fresh Spirit Wellness in 1997 after realizing there was a different type of dynamic for African American women who are dealing with it. She discovered that certain conversations that needed to happen were not taking place and many fears that these women had were not being addressed.

“In the African American household, culturally, everything is kind of kept in the household. You’re the strong Black woman. You can handle it. It’s okay,” Terrell said.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, at more than 40%, Black women have experienced intimate partner physical violence at a disproportionately higher rate. Terrell said they are being killed at a rate three times higher than most other ethnicities because they stay in their situations longer than most. She added that’s why it’s so important to ask the right questions.

“Are you afraid that if you call the police that there would be some type of brutality or harm to your husband by the police officer? Have you spoken with your pastor or lay counselor at church and what type of advice have they given you?” Terrell said.

Reaching out to the prominent churches in Houston’s African American community is a big part of her mission to de-stigmatize the abuse.

“And let them know to be open about this and not hide it. If the congregation of females know that their pastor is saying this is not a healthy marriage. This is not what the Bible meant when it says, you know, ‘til’ death do us part,’” Terrell said.

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