Our own OCADVSA Training Coordinator and For Tia cofounder Tamera Babbit recently presented at the 2018 Partners for Change Conference, along with her fellow cofounders Vanessa Morrison (Director of Client Services Palomar) and Angela Beatty (Senior Director of Domestic Violence Victim Services YMCA). “Voices Unheard: Black Women and Interpersonal Violence” was the very first culturally specific presentation for Black women in the conference’s history.

African American women in Oklahoma and across the nation experience intimate partner violence at a disproportionately high rate compared to other races.The “Voices Unheard” presentation provided an overview of the challenges Black women face when found in intimate partner violence situations, from marginalization and harmful cultural stereotypes to distrustful relationships with law enforcement, challenges associated with socioeconomic status, and lack of reliable access to health care, among several others.The speakers explored strategies for how service providers can better reach and serve Black women, with an emphasis on both addressing internal diversity and fostering a more robust cultural understanding and external approaches, like increasing visibility in underserved communities. A packed-house audience also asked questions at the end of the presentation. The high engagement and response was a fantastic indicator of the receptiveness of the Oklahoma service provider community to addressing the barriers that affect Black women and provided a feeling of hope for progress in the future.

For Tia cofounders before their presentation

For Tia is a 501(c)(3) organization who creates culturally specific access to awareness, resources, and safe spaces for Black women. In 2016, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Domestic Fatality Review Board formed a subcommittee on intimate partner violence and African American Women. This subcommittee began looking into the causes of the high rates of intimate partner violence against Black women. In 2017, the subcommittee presented their findings, and For Tia was founded as a way to address some of the needs laid out in those findings. While Oklahoma doesn’t have an African-American specific service provider, For Tia hopes to become a resource for other service providers, so that they may better address these critical issues affecting Black women in Oklahoma.

Tia Bloomer

The organization is named in honor of Tia Bloomer, who was a 19-year-old woman living in Oklahoma City. Tia was set to begin serving in the US Air Force in late March 2012, was a freshman at Oklahoma City Community College, and the proud mother of her son, Royal. Tia suffered years of abuse at the hands of her ex boyfriend, and she was also in the process of obtaining a protective order against him. On March 16, 2012, Tia was waiting at a bus station, on her way to meet with a detective regarding the protective order. While she was waiting, her ex boyfriend approached and stabbed Tia in front of dozens of witnesses. Despite efforts to revive her, Tia passed away at the OU Medical Center, and her bright future was cut tragically short. For Tia was named to honor her life, her memory, and to serve as a call to action towards protecting Black women from intimate partner violence and abuse.

If you would like to learn more about For Tia or join their cause, you can follow them on Twitter @fortiaokc or send email inquiries to fortiaokc@gmail.com.