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- Perilla, J. L. (1999). Domestic violence as a human rights issue: The case of immigrant Latinos. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 21, 107-133.
- Perilla, J.L., Lavizzo, E., & Ibañez, G. (2007). Towards a community psychology of liberation. In E. Aldarondo (Ed.). Promoting Social Justice Through Mental Health Practice. Mahwah, NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum.
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- Perilla, J.L., Ramírez González, M.G. & Alvarez, A. (2003). El uso de violencia en mujeres latinas que han sido maltratadas. Unpublished manuscript.
- Rivera, J. (1994). Domestic violence against Latinas by Latino males: An analysis of race, national origin, and gender differentials. Third World Law Journal, 14, 189-231.
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- Sabina, C., Cuevas, C. A., & Schally, J. L. (2012a). The Cultural Influences on Help-seeking Among a National Sample of Victimized Latino Women. American Journal of Community Psychology, 49(3-4), 347-363. doi: 10.1007/s10464-011-9462-x
- Sabina, C., Cuevas, C. A., & Schally, J. L. (2012b). Help-Seeking in a National Sample of Victimized Latino Women: The Influence of Victimization Types. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(1), 40-61. doi: 10.1177/0886260511416460
- Suárez-Orozco, C. & Suárez-Orozco, M. (2001). Children of Immigration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). Extent, Nature and Causes of Intimate Partner Violence (No. NCJ 181867). Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice.
- Vega, W. A., Sribney, W. M., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., & Kolody, B. (2004). 12-month prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders among Mexican Americans: Nativity, social assimilation, and age determinants. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 192, 532–541. ;
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- Wright, E. M., & Benson, M. L. (2010). Immigration and Intimate Partner Violence: Exploring the Immigrant Paradox. Social Problems, 57(3), 480-503. doi: 10.1525/sp.2010.57.3.480
- Zarza, M. J. and Adler, R.G. (2008). Latina immigrant victims of interpersonal violence in New Jersey: A needs assessment study. Journal of Aggresion, Maltreatment, & Trauma, 16(1),
- Cuevas, C. A., Bell, K. A., Sabina, C. (2014) Victimization, psychological distress, and help-seeking: Disentangling the relationship for Latina victims. Psychology of Violence, 4(2) 196-209. doi:10.1037/a0035819
- Golden, S. D., Perreira, K. M., & Durrance, C., (2013). Troubled times, troubled relationships: How economic resources, gender beliefs, and neighborhood disadvantage influence intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 28(10), 2134-2155. doi:10.1177/08886260512471083
- Gonzalez-Guarda, R. M., Vermeesch, A. L., Florom-Smith, A. L., McCabe, B. E., & Peragallo, N. P. (2013). Birthplace, culture, self-esteem, and intimate partner violence among community-dwelling Hispanic women. Violence Against Women, 19(1), 6-23. doi:10.1177/1077801212475336
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- Sabina, C., Cuevas, C. A., & Schally, J. L. (2013). The effect of immigration and acculturation on victimization among a national sample of Latino women. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 19(1), 13-26. doi:10.1037/a0030500
Updated References 2017
- Zadnik, E., Sabina, C., & Cuevas, C.A. (2016). Violence against Latinas: The effects of undocumented status on rates of victimization and help-seeking. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 31, 1141-1153.
- Sabina, C., Cuevas, C.A., & Zadnik, E. (2015). Intimate partner violence among Latino women: Rates and cultural correlates. Journal of Family Violence, 30, 35-47.
- Sabina, C., Cuevas, C.A., & Schally, J.L. (2014). Interpersonal violence among Latino women: The influence of ethnic group. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 21, 19-30.
- Hernández-Martinez, M., & Serrata, J.V., & Huitron, K. (2017). Finding a Way: Innovative housing solutions of Latin@ survivors of domestic violence and successful practices of culturally specific community-based organizations (CBOs). (Research Report No. 2017.6). Retrieved from National Latin@ Network: http://www.nationallatinonetwork.org/research/nln-research
- Cuevas, C. A., Sabina, C., & Milloshi, R. (2012). Interpersonal victimization patterns in a national sample of Latino women. Violence Against Women, 18, 377-403.
- Cuevas, C.A., Sabina, C., & Picard, E.H. (2015). Posttraumatic stress among victimized Latino women: Evaluating the role of cultural factors. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 28, 531-538.
- Tahirih Justice Center. (2017). 2017 Advocate and legal service survey regarding immigrant survivors. Retrieved from https://www.tahirih.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2017-Advocate-and-Legal-Service-Survey-Key-Findings.pdf
- Sabina, C., Cuevas, C.A., Lannen, E. (2014). The likelihood of Latino women to seek help in response to interpersonal victimization: An examination of individual, interpersonal and sociocultural influences. Psychosocial Intervention, 23, 95-103.
- Smith, S.G., Chen, J., Basile, K.C., Gilbert, L.K., Merrick, M.T., Patel, N., Walling, M., & Jain, A. (2017). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010-2012 State Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although many prevention programs documented in the literature are limited in their inclusion of Latino men, a growing number of publications are beginning to document information for developing approaches relevant to Latino men.
- An evaluation of 309 participants indicates that Hombres Unidos Contra la Violencia Familiar has shown promising results with Latino migrant men on changing their attitudes, behavior and willingness to intervene and prevent DV.
- Preliminary results of a qualitative study of the Men's Story Project conducted by the University of California–San Francisco indicates that live productions can stimulate attitude and behavioral changes towards gender norms and develop healthier relationships.
- The results of eight quasi-experimental studies on Instituto Promundo Program H in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Balkans found evidence of positive changes in attitudes and behavior toward greater gender-equity.
- A randomized-controlled trial following 2,000 athletes for one year in 16 high schools in Sacramento, California showed that Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) increases intentions to intervene and recognition of abusive behavior. These findings were confirmed by a subsequent evaluation one year after the end of the trial period.
Commentary: These programs were developed as alternative approaches for working with diverse populations. Evaluation results confirmed that they’ve changed attitudes and behavior towards women and prevented DV. Despite positive results, these programs represent small gains; a great deal still needs to be done to work with Latino men.
National statistics about the experience of DV in the U.S. represent estimates that vary by different methods of data collection. Therefore, you will notice quite a bit of statistical variability. Nevertheless, we have presented some of the most recent prevalence information published on Latin@ populations. It is important to remember that these findings must be considered within the context of the limitations outlined previously and may be limited in their representations.
- Approximately 1 in 3 Latinas (Breiding,Chen & Black, 2014) have experienced intimate partner violence during her lifetime and 1 in 12 in the previous 12 months.(Breiding, Smith, Basile, Walters, Chen, & Merrick, 2014)
- This rate is approximately the same as for women from other racial/ethnic groups. In fact, a recent study found no significant difference across racial groups once socioeconomic status was taken into consideration.(Cho, 2012)
- Reported rates of DV were lower for Mexican immigrants (13.4%) than for persons of Mexican descent born in the United States (16.7%) (Aldarondo, Kantor, & Jasinski, 2002).
- These differences are consistent with other studies examining physical and mental health outcomes (Vega, Sribney, Aguilar-Gaxiola, & Kolody, 2004), school achievement (Brabeck, & Guzman, 2008), and substance abuse (Ojeda, Patterson, & Strathdee, 2008). This surprising strength of immigrant groups—despite the social and economic challenges they often face—has been labeled the immigrant paradox (Wright & Benson, 2010). Latin@s also show differences based on their country of origin and level of acculturation; a greater number of years in the U.S. predicts poorer health outcomes. The apparent protective nature of being an immigrant is the subject of several current studies (Suárez-Orozco, & Suárez-Orozco, 2001; Vega, Sribney, Aguilar-Gaxiola, & Kolody, 2004).
- A study that included 2,000 Latinas found that 63.1% of women who identified as being victimized in their lifetime (i.e., interpersonal victimization such as, stalking, physical assaults, weapon assaults, physical assaults in childhood, threats, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, etc.) reported having experienced more than one victimization, with an average of 2.56 victimizations (Cuevas, Sabina, & Picard, 2010).
- Immigrant women (including Latinas) who are married are more likely to experience DV than unmarried women (Dutton, Orloff, & Hass, 2000).
- In a sample of over 300 pregnant Latinas, DV during pregnancy was reported at 10% for physical abuse and 19% for emotional abuse (Martin & Garcia, 2011).
- Research is beginning to document work-related DV among Latin@s. One study reported abusive strategies, such as on-the-job surveillance or harrassment and work disruption tactics. However, this study also found strategies that were unique in a Latin@ sample, such as denying access to driver’s license, lying about childcare arrangements, and sending the partner temporarily to their country of origin (Mankowski, Galvez, & Glass, 2011).
Commentary: As noted in the research findings above, Latin@s experience DV at similar rates to other ethnic groups; however, when one examines rates within sub-populations of Latin@s, interesting findings arise, such as those related to immigrant married vs. unmarried Latinas. These findings highlight the continued need to understand the extreme variability within the Latin@ community.
For all works cited and references, please visit the References page.
Working with Latino men to End Violence against Women: A Qualitative Exploration
Most of the published literature on DV interventions with men is from intervention programs run by social service organizations, individual therapists, or criminal justice agencies (Saunders, 2008). In very few cases, these programs are delivered by Latin@ community-based organizations. Few existing studies evaluate the effectiveness of programs for Latino men. Nevertheless, the literature base does offer important knowledge of various programs that have been utilized with Latino men, reviewed below.
- A qualitative study conducted in Michigan with 21 Latino immigrant men who participated in a culturally informed batterers’ intervention indicates that the Spanish version of the Duluth curriculum can be beneficial for Latino immigrant batterers. The results suggested an increase in the participants’ willingness to change and satisfaction with the intervention (Parra-Cardona, Escobar-Chew, Holtrop, Carpenter, Guzman, Hernandez, Zamudio, & Gonzalez-Ramirez, 2013).
- In another study conducted on the Duluth model in North Carolina, Hancock & Siu (2009) followed almost 100 Latino men for a period of two years. After a few months, the intervention facilitators found that the Duluth model was ineffective and decided to create a more culturally-sensitive model that would take into account the needs and aspirations of the men involved.
- Another study took place in Southern California with 159 Latino men who received a court order to attend a batterers’ intervention program (Welland, & Ribner, 2010, 802). Findings included the lack of clarity in the language used by the clinicians to work with the Spanish-speaking participants, which helped explain the high dropout rate after one year.
- Perilla & Perez (2002) published an article based on their work with Caminar Latino, a comprehensive DV program in Atlanta, which offers a culturally sensitive intervention for court-mandated Latino men. Anecdotal information gathered over twenty years from male participants and their partners has provided promising evidence for this approach with Latino men.
Commentary: The first two studies included in this section parallel in a small scale the state of research on batterers’ intervention, with contradicting results and confusion about the efficacy of programs. The last study also echoes another mainstream reality: a significant gap between what some researchers and practitioners think about the success of the interventions.
Whether a program is culturally informed or not (and the great majority are not), the truth is that most programs for men who batter are grossly underfunded. As our colleague Dr. Etiony Aldarondo has pointed out: “It is almost hypocritical to expect positive results from a field that receives practically no funding from public or private sources.”
DV occurs within the context of a family’s daily life, which is deeply affected by numerous factors including personal, familial, cultural, and socio-political issues. Although researchers have investigated the relationship between certain variables, they haven’t yet isolated a single variable that “causes” DV. Rather, researchers have learned that DV is a very complex issue associated with multiple variables that impact one another and DV in different ways. The findings in this section must be understood in this context.
Knowledge and Attitudes about Domestic Violence
Increasing knowledge and changing attitudes about DV are often targeted in prevention and intervention programs; therefore, it may be useful to understand some common opinions held by Latino men. In this section we see that Latino men experience varying levels of awareness of DV as a problem.
- A qualitative study with Latino males (44% from Cuba, 16% U.S.-born, 12% from Honduras, and 12% from Nicaragua) living in South Florida showed that they perceived domestic violence among the major areas of concern for the Latin@ community (Gonzales-Guarda, Ortega, Vasquez, & De Santis, 2010).
- Men in this study viewed DV as a problem interrelated with a multitude of issues, such as substance abuse, community violence, immigration, poor mental health, low education, negative childhood experiences, traditional gender roles, women’s employment, men’s unemployment, and economic hardships (Gonzales-Guarda et al., 2010).
- In a different study, when Latin@s in the rural southeastern U.S. were asked to rank top concerns in their communities, males rated DV as a less severe problem than did Latina females (Moracco, Hilton, Hodges, & Frasier, 2005).
- Latino males were more likely than females to agree that children were unaware of DV occurring in the home (Moracco et al., 2005).
Commentary: As noted above, attitudes and knowledge of DV varies among subpopulations of Latino men, with one study indicating that Latino men in South Florida perceive domestic violence as a major community concern and one group of Latino men in the rural southeast reporting it as a less severe problem.
Intergenerational Transmission of Violence
A large portion of research has been dedicated to the intergenerational transmission of violence, or how the experience or witnessing of violence during childhood influences later aggression or victimization.
Certainly, a person who experiences violence as a child may never become violent, while one who has never experienced violence can become violent; nevertheless, research does suggest that experiencing violence throughout one’s lifetime increases the chances of using violence and/or becoming a victim. The bullets below reflect this research undertaken with Latino males.
- A qualitative study conducted with Latino males (44% from Cuba, 16% U.S.-born, 12% from Honduras, and 12% from Nicaragua) living in South Florida identified negative childhood experiences as risk factors for DV (Gonzales-Guarda et al., 2010).
- A national study of 846 Latin@ heterosexual couples found that experiencing physical violence from parents as an adolescent was related to an increased risk for assaulting a female partner for Mexican men. No relationship was found between witnessing violence as a child and increased violence against a partner (Aldarondo, Kantor, & Jasinski, 2002).
Commentary: Clearly, one’s personal experience with violence is a key factor impacting whether or not he decides to use violence in a relationship. As many men are also personal survivors of violence, it’s important to understand this historical factor.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Drug and alcohol use are often considered in relation to violence. Despite the misconception that drug and/or alcohol use “causes” violent behavior, research shows little evidence for this association among Latino men.
- A national sample of 387 Latin@ couples found no relationship between alcohol consumption and DV (Caetano, Ramisetty-Mikler, Vaeth, & Harris, 2007).
- A national survey of 527 married or cohabiting Latin@ couples found no relationship between alcohol use and DV for Latino men (Cunradi, Caetano, & Schafer, 2002).
- A longitudinal study across a five-year span found no association between alcohol use and incidences of male-to-female or female-to-male physical violence (Caetano, Ramisetty-Mikler, & Harris, 2008).
Commentary: It’s important to understand these findings in the context of common misconceptions among the general public. Although drug and alcohol use often co-occur with prepetration of DV, research indicates that violence is not caused by substance abuse. Hoewever, these studies did not evaluate the impact of drugs or alcohol on the severity of ongoing abuse reported by men or women. Anecdotally, we hear from many Latinas that the presence of alcohol or drugs can alter the severity and types of violence inflicted during a DV incident. Therefore, this issue clearly warrants further research.
Understanding Latin@ communities involves taking into account the large-scale issues they face, including high rates of poverty. Many Latin@s experience significant financial stressors and evidence suggests that these stressors impact DV.
- In a national sample of 527 Latin@ couples, lower household income was related to increases in male-to-female violence (Cunradi et al., 2002).
- In a national sample of 846 Latin@ couples, the lack of economic resources was related to increased partner assault for Mexican American men (Aldarondo et al., 2002).
Commentary: Given these findings, the stress of financial burdens may need to be addressed in DV prevention or intervention. For example, part of the work may involve assistance around job training or obtaining financial resources. Because these factors are related to DV, they require attention.
Cultural Factors and Gender Norms
Many researchers have taken an interest in cultural factors or experiences specific to minority groups, such as acculturation and the relationship of these factors to DV. As mentioned above, one shouldn’t assume that cultural variables fully explain DV, especially since the results regarding acculturation are mixed. Cultural experiences are only one variable within a web of other factors, including gender norms that influence and are influenced by DV.
- Latino males attending a batterers’ intervention program reported having conflict with their female partners over changes in expected gender roles. Men talked about conflicts with their female partners over marriage roles, childcare responsibilities, and working outside the home (Galvez et al.; 2011).
- Latino males attending a batterers’ intervention program commonly reported the belief that American culture influenced their partners to become too independent and to stop relying on their male partners (Galvez et al.; 2011).
- For both Latin@ men and women, high scores of dominance (e.g., power, submissiveness, decision making, and devaluation) were related to increased psychological aggression, physical violence, and infliction of injury towards an intimate partner (Sugihara & Warner, 2002).
- Male-dominant power structures in relationships—measured by the male’s insistence on having his own way—were positively correlated with abuse (Firestone, Harris, & Vega, 2003).
Commentary: As with other factors, it’s important to state that no single cultural variable or gender norm can explain the use of violence. And while it’s obvious that cultural variables affect Latino men’s use of violence, it’s also worth emphasizing that violence exists in every culture and isn’t exclusive to Latin@s. Nevertheless, when working with men, it’s important to understand that the belief in male-dominant power structures may influence their use of violence.