Black Women and Girls & #MeToo: Rape, Cultural Betrayal, & Healing

Abstract

Created by U.S. Black female activist, Tarana Burke, the #MeToo movement gained popularity in 2017, shedding light on the pervasive sexual harassment and assault of women. Since long before Anita Hill and @RapedAtSpelman, racial trauma has complicated the post-sexual violence landscape for U.S. Black women and girls, which may inhibit their ability to say “me too.” It is within this context of racial trauma that cultural betrayal trauma theory (CBTT) was developed: a new framework for understanding how outcomes of interpersonal trauma, like rape, are impacted by both victim and perpetrator(s) being subjected to inequality. In the present article, racial trauma and its effects on Black Americans is discussed. Then, the collective sense of being in U.S. Black culture, along with the burden placed on Black females, is delineated. Next, CBTT is defined and its empirical support and implications are detailed. Finally, mechanisms to address the interwoven harm of racial trauma and cultural betrayal trauma within institutions (e.g., mental health care) and the community (e.g., in collaboration with the Black church) is elucidated to facilitate healing through #MeToo and beyond.

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Correspondence to Jennifer M. Gómez.

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Gómez, J.M., Gobin, R.L. Black Women and Girls & #MeToo: Rape, Cultural Betrayal, & Healing. Sex Roles 82, 1–12 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-019-01040-0

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Keywords

  • Racial trauma
  • Cultural betrayal
  • Rape
  • #MeToo
  • Sexual assault
  • Black women
  • Black girls