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 survivors9.
- Latinas are only half as likely to report abuse to authorities as survivors from other ethnic/racial groups34,41. This underreporting is related to barriers experienced by undocumented Latinas seeking services rather than a personal reluctance to report. 41
- Latinas prefer to tell family members7, female friends, or neighbors about IPV (i.e. utilize informal resources for help)27,28, while non-Latinas may be more likely to tell health care workers or clergy9,34.
- Nearly half of Latinas in one study did not report abuse to authorities.34 Reasons for underreporting may include fear and lack of confidence in the police25, shame, guilt, loyalty and/or fear of partners8, fear of deportation21, and previous experience with childhood victimization28.
- 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 survivors35.
- One of these studies found that about 4% of of participants had fled their countries of origin in search of protection and safety from IPV34.
- Low-acculturated Latinas (both abused and non-abused) are less likely to seek and use formal social services than their more acculturated counterparts11,27,43.
- Non-immigrant Latina survivors contact formal services for IPV resources more often than immigrant Latinas9.
- Perception of IPV as only being physical abuse also influences help-seeking practice39.
- Having children is consistently related to increased help seeking for all forms of help48, for Latinas.
Latina survivors’ help-seeking behaviors are closely tied to their level of acculturation and other cultural factors.
- More recent immigrant Latinas are usually unaware of the laws, options, and possibilities regarding their experience of abuse.
- Latina survivors who have been in the United States for a longer period of time or were born in this country have had the opportunity to learn about resources and are more likely to use them. However, where they seek help varies from other ethnic/racial groups. Latina survivors are more likely to depend on family members and friends, rather than health care workers, clergy, and police.