Domestic violence has been a “hot topic” in the wake of Ray Rice’s abuse scandal, but Queen Latifah reminded her TV audience that it’s a national conversation that’s long overdue…and one that she’s been speaking on for decades.
“It’s sad to me that this problem is headline news because some football players are involved, because this is something that’s always around,” she said on “The Queen Latifah Show.” “It’s a problem in every part of society; it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or whether you’re poor. It doesn’t matter what your race is…this is a problem for all of us and it is not a new problem.”
Latifah’s been talking about this issue for years and included the topic in one of her biggest hits after a domestic violence situation hit home.
“Twenty one years ago I wrote the song ‘U.N.I.T.Y.’ about disrespect and violence towards women,” she said. “That entire second verse of that song was written about my cousin who was in an abusive relationship with her husband, and my brothers and my cousins pretty much had to rescue her from that relationship. But she did get out of that relationship. Today I wish I didn’t have to talk about that song. I wish the message in that song wasn’t even relevant today. But it…is more than ever.”
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Many women never report their domestic abuse to authorities, but still according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 1.3 million American women experience domestic violence each year. Women make up 85% of the victims of domestic violence. For Black women, the statistics are even more jarring: Black women are almost three times as likely to experience death as a result of domestic violence, which is one of the leading causes of death for Black women ages 15 to 35.
“For everyone out there who is in that situation…women and men, I want you to know you’re not alone. There are people out there who want to help you,” Queen Latifah said, noting that calls to domestic violence hotlines have spiked since the topic has been on the forefront of the news cycle. “When we talk about this people are able to hear it, connect to it and make a difference…you don’t have to be silent about it. You don’t have to suffer.”
If you or someone you know is being abused in a relationship in any way, RAINN provides live help, free and confidential. Call 1.800.656.HOPE or visit RAINN.org.