Follow Vogue Arabia

Angelina Jolie Pens Op-Ed Pleading for Equality for Domestic Violence Survivors

Angelina Jolie used her public platform to shed light on systemic challenges and misconceptions faced by nonwhite medical patients, especially those who are survivors of domestic violence. The actor, activist, and mother of six wrote an op-ed published Wednesday in the American Journal of Nursing, highlighting medical technology that allows for bruises to be visible on darker skin tones.

In the essay, titled “Addressing Health Inequities in Survivors of Domestic Violence,” Jolie writes that “medical research, imagery, and training continue to center on white skin, not on how injuries present differently in patients with darker skin tone.

“As the mother of children of multiple races, I have seen my children of color be misdiagnosed, at times in ways that endangered their health,” she wrote.

Jolie describes a visit with forensic nurse Katherine N. Scafide in her laboratory, where she saw how a handheld device could highlight bruising on darker skin tones that had been invisible to the naked eye—especially important, as Jolie says, because of “the unacceptable, disproportionate impact of domestic violence on communities of color in America.” Because bruises can be hard to see, the extent of patients’ injuries is often underestimated and undertreated. While Jolie acknowledges that this is just one step toward providing equitable health care for survivors of color, it’s one that’s within reach.

She wrote about talking with a nurse following a medical procedure for her daughter Zahara in which Jolie was told to look out for the skin around Zahara’s incision turning pink—a sign of infection for those with lighter skin tones, but not for Zahara.

“Even as my family has access to high-quality medical care, simple diagnoses are missed because of race and continued prioritization of white skin in medicine,” Jolie wrote. “At a societal level, racial disparities in health care affect outcomes for millions of people. From technology to improving diversity and representation in medical research and training, it is past time to embrace new solutions.”

Jolie also mentioned advocating for the use of unbiased forensic medical technology to be included in the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022, which has become law.

Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt in 2016, citing irreconcilable differences, and has since said that Pitt was physically abusive toward her and their children on a flight in September of that year. In response, an attorney for Pitt has said he’s “been on the receiving end of every type of personal attack and misrepresentation.” The divorce is still not finalized.

Legal proceedings over the winery Jolie and Pitt co-owned until recently, custody of the couple’s children, and the divorce itself continue.

Originally published in

View All
Vogue Collection