Invisible Woman: Black Women and Domestic Violence


Have you ever heard of Margaret "Missy" Allen or Nikki McPhatter? In July of 2008, attorney Margaret "Missy" Allen was killed by a boyfriend who was a former client. Calvin McKelton was found guilty of strangling Allen and then dumping her body in Cincinnati's East End. He was also found guilty in the shooting death of Germaine Evans. Prosecutors said Evans was killed because he was going to testify against McKelton. Even with the salacious details surrounding this case — a defense attorney murdered by her former client and boyfriend — the case got scant coverage in the media.

How about Nikki McPhatter? In 2009, the Charlotte, N.C.-based U.S. Airways employee had gone to South Carolina to break off a relationship with her boyfriend, Theodore Manning IV, whom she had met online. Manning shot her in the back of the head, called another girlfriend to help him dispose of McPhatter's body, put her lifeless body in her car, set it on fire, and then went home and had sex with said girlfriend. You might have missed the case, since the media was focused on Bonnie Sweeten, the 38-year-old crackpot and Philadelphia mom who told police that she and her daughter had been abducted by two black men, when in fact she had taken her daughter to Disney World. This woman's lies prompted a national search and media frenzy, while McPhatter's body lay burning in her car. No one knew McPhatter's whereabouts for weeks, and the national media did not get involved in the search, as they did with Sweeten, who was actually lying. Manning received only 30 years for killing McPhatter, a woman who was merely trying to break up with him. McKelton will be sentenced today (UPDATED: McKelton received a death sentence).


Black women who are the victims of domestic violence that results in murder rarely receive the national media coverage that white women who are murdered as a result of domestic violence do. To be fair, a lot of women are murdered whose local stories do not become national stories, but local stories about missing black women or victims of domestic violenence rarely get elevated to national headlines. Do we have to be blond, pregnant, married or housewives to get coverage? We get coverage when it comes to disease, death, getting butt implants and being unable to find a man, but not when we are victims of domestic violence.

Both of these cases went to trial during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, yet few have heard of these stories, both of which have all of the details needed for national coverage. The point is, if you haven't heard of these two women, you should have. You probably didn't, because black women who are victims of domestic violence are largely invisible in the media, unless we're an international recording star being beaten up by another international recording star. That is the continued tragedy of domestic violence and how it impacts black women. Nobody is checking for us — at least the "regular" folks.

Read more about Margaret "Missy" Allen on or Nikki McPhatter at Creative Loafing.