Communicating Survival in Violent Times: A Dialogue on the Intersections of Violence in Gendered, Sexual, Racial/Ethnic, and Class Contexts

Sponsor: Communication for Survival Spotlight Series
Fri, 11/15: 9:30 AM  - 10:45 AM 
Room: Holiday Ballroom 6 (Second Floor) 
Over the past few years, national and international headlines have lamented the extreme cases of violence occurring at the intersections of gender, sex, race, ethnicity, and class. First, domestic violence is a national public health concern, as domestic violence survivors are at a higher risk of mental health disorders, chronic disease, brain trauma, and are more likely to die (Huffington Post, 2016). In the United States, nearly 1 in 4 adult women and approximately 1 in 7 adult men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime (CDC, 2019), with deleterious individual, familial, and community effects and outcomes (Evans, 2010). Eighty-eight to 94% of these physical encounters involve injuries to the head and neck, suggesting a high likelihood of injury to the brain (Hunnicut, Murray, Lundgren, Crowe, & Olson, 2019). As such, one of the most serious outcomes of intimate partner violence that is just now beginning to receive attention from researchers, practitioners, and first responders is traumatic brain injury, or what has been coined IPV-related TBI (Hunnicut, Lundgren, Murray, & Olson, 2017). Unlike athletes and military members, victims of domestic violence are an unacknowledged population who is at a high risk of brain injury and much less likely to receive the necessary interventions for proper healing (Crowe, Murray, Mullen, Lundgren, Hunnicutt, & Olson, 2018) Given that women are the majority of domestic violence victims, IPV-related TBI is inherently gendered and any careful analysis of this public health issue exposes how race, class, and geographic location intersect in ways that exacerbate the disparities involved in helping IPV survivors who have TBI.

Moreover, in other violence contexts, Latin American migrant men, women, and children are victims of physical, mental, and sexual violence, as children are ripped from their mothers' arms and held in detention cages (Hernández & De Los Santos Upton, 2019). Although there are more than 100 documented reports of sexual assault of undocumented women along the border in the past two decades, law enforcement officials and immigrant rights advocates note that this number barely scratches the surface of the true violence epidemic at hand (Fernandez, 2019), suggesting that sexual violence is an inescapable component of the "collective migrant rights journey" (Fernandez, 2019). Latin American women are also victims of femicides (Chavez, 2019; Hernández & De Los Santos Upton, 2018; Holling, 2014, 2019; Lozano, 2019), highlighting the gendered nature of violence against women of color. Finally, from a racial perspective, police brutality has also been lamented as a public health epidemic (Clark, Bland, & Livingston, 2017; Cooper & Fullilove, 2016; Martinot, 2014), as black children, black adults, transgender women, indigenous women, and people of color have been murdered at the hands of the police state (Ritchie, 2017). Taken together, these three contemporary contexts illustrate how individual rights are at stake, highlighting the racial, gendered, and cultural dimensions of trauma that violate individuals' humanity. In other words, anti-sexism and anti-racist activist efforts can help combat the trauma and serve as violence prevention strategies. These examples also highlight the ways in which violence is simultaneously experienced and enacted at both individual and societal levels, and by doing so they demonstrate that there is much to be learned by closely examining the the structures that enable such violences to occur in order to better equip scholars and activists to build coalitions (Chávez, 2013) at these intersections.

Given these epidemics of violence, a larger conversation is needed now more than ever about the cultural, gendered, and racial underpinnings of violence and strategies that can be used for survival. In this spotlight panel and utilizing an intersectional frame, scholars, practitioners, and activists will explore the linkages between and among violence at the intersections of race, gender, ethnicity, sex, and class. Representing a wide range of identity backgrounds, research areas, and activist emphases, Drs. Michelle Holling, Nina Lozano, and Loreen Olson will engage in dialogue with local Baltimore activists and practitioners. Together, the panelists will consider the linkages amongst different, yet related violence contexts with a focus on the gendered, heterosexist, and racialized aspects of partner violence and police/state violence of brown and black bodies. They will also explore how communication, advocacy, and activism can be utilized as strategies for survival.


Leandra Hinojosa Hernandez, Utah Valley University  - Contact Me


Sarah Upton, University of Texas, El Paso  - Contact Me
Kara Laskowski, Shippensburg University  - Contact Me


Nneka Nnamdi, Fight Blight Bmore  - Contact Me
Joseph Richardson, University of Maryland  - Contact Me
Michelle A. Holling, California State University San Marcos  - Contact Me
Nina Maria Lozano, Loyola Marymount University  - Contact Me
Loreen Olson, University of North Carolina, Greensboro  - Contact Me


Communication for Survival Spotlight Series