DOI: 10.1177/00938548241227541 ISSN: 0093-8548

“I Done Been Through a Lot of Stuff and I Done Seen a Lot of Things”: A Qualitative Analysis of Chronic Stress and Violence Among Justice-Involved Black Men

Cherrell Green
  • Law
  • General Psychology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

In the United States, low-income Black men endure substantial stressors shaped by their social ecology (e.g., impoverished neighborhoods) and societal systems (e.g., criminal legal system) that produce racialized harm over the course of their lives. Although the stress literature has demonstrated a strong relationship between stressors and adverse health consequences, much remains unknown as to how low-income Black men experience trauma and adversity. This study draws on semistructured interviews with 20 men to understand how they experience and cope with trauma. Findings reveal that Black men experience multiple and enduring stressors—childhood trauma, interpersonal violence, loss of loved ones to violence, and police violence, throughout their lives. Participants’ chronic exposure to trauma resulted in adverse psychological outcomes including desensitization, hypervigilance, and fatalism. Finally, how low-income Black men responded to trauma, sometimes resulted in additional adversity and further involvement in the criminal legal system.

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