of Latinas who experience abuse never report it
While the number of studies examining intimate partner violence (IPV) in Latin@ populations is growing, research on this issue continues to be limited in quality and breadth. We have compiled what we believe are the most current data on this topic and summarized it below.
Low rates of reporting and self-help seeking among Latinas experiencing IPV may create the illusion that IPV services are not needed by this population. However, understanding the specifics of help seeking behavior among Latinas can create a more cohesive picture.
of participants in one study fled their home country to search for protection from IPV
- Latinas reported seeking access to shelters less than women from other ethnic/racial groups; this is especially true for immigrant Latina survivors[25, 26].
- Latinas are only half as likely to report abuse to authorities as survivors from other ethnic/racial groups[3, 27]. This underreporting is related to barriers experienced by undocumented Latinas seeking services rather than a personal reluctance to report.
- Latinas prefer to tell family members, female friends, or neighbors about IPV (i.e. utilize informal resources for help)[29, 30].This is especially true for undocumented Latinas who were more likely to seek out informal support for IPV as compared to Latinas with resident or citizen status. However, for both groups, formal help-seeking was more likely when expereincing severe physical abuse.
- Nearly half of Latinas in one study did not report abuse to authorities. Reasons for underreporting may include fear and lack of confidence in the police, shame, guilt, loyalty and/or fear of partners, fear of deportation, and previous experience with childhood victimization.
- However, formal help-seeking has been found to reduce depression in Latina survivors. Additionally, notifying authorities of the abuse was identified as a way to reduce depression in survivors.
- One of these studies found that about 4% of participants had fled their countries of origin in search of protection and safety from IPV.
- Low-acculturated Latinas (both abused and non-abused) are less likely to seek and use formal social services than their more acculturated counterparts[6, 29, 36].
- Non-immigrant Latina survivors contact formal services for IPV resources more often than immigrant Latinas.
- Perception of IPV as only being physical abuse also influences help-seeking practice.
- Having children is consistently related to increased help seeking for all forms of help, for Latinas.
- Among Latinas receiving shelter for IPV, undocumented Latinas were less likely to know what an order of protection was as compared to Latinas with resident or citizen status (59% vs. 84%). However, undocumented Latinas were more likely than Latinas with resident or citizen status (57% vs. 22%) to believe that their partner would abide by an order of protection if provided.