1 in 3
Latinas have experienced intimate partner violence
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.
Prevalence & Occurrence of IPV
National statistics about the experience of IPV among women in the United States vary by study and the different methods of data collection. The various strategies used by researchers to collect data (e.g. phone vs. in-person surveys), the specific questions asked (e.g., number of acts of physical violence vs. the context of the violence), and the social/community conditions where the study is conducted (e.g. new immigration laws) all impact the results of the study. For Latin@s, the language in which the study is conducted (including the use of variations in the Spanish language) can also affect the results. Below, we present some of the most recent information published on the prevalence of IPV among Latin@ populations. It is important to remember, however, that these findings must be considered within the context of the issues outlined above and may be limited in their representations.
of victimized women experienced multiple acts of victimization
- About 1 in 3 Latinas (34.4 %) will experience IPV during her lifetime and 1 in 12 Latinas (8.6%) has experienced IPV in the previous 12 months.
- This rate is approximately the same as for women from other racial/ethnic groups. In fact, a recent study found no significant difference among racial groups once socioeconomic status was taken into consideration[2,3].
- The immigrant paradox states that there are lower rates of victimization for immigrants than non-immigrants[4-6]. Evidence in this area continues to build. For example, a recent review of 41 research studies also found evidence for lower reported IPV among immigrant Latinas compared to US-born Latinas.
- Reported rates of IPV were lower for Mexican immigrants (13.4%) than for persons of Mexican descent born in the United States (16.7%).[7,8]
- These differences are consistent with other studies examining physical and mental health outcomes, school achievement, and substance abuse. This surprising strength of immigrant groups despite the social and economic challenges they often face has been labeled the immigrant paradox. There are also differences among Latin@s based on their country of origin and level of acculturation; more years in the U.S. predicts poorer health outcomes. The apparent protective nature of being an immigrant is the subject of several current studies[9,10].
- Immigrant women (including Latinas) who are married were more likely to experience IPV than unmarried immigrant women.
- In a sample of over 300 pregnant Latinas, IPV during pregnancy was reported at 10% for physical abuse and 19% for emotional abuse.
- Additionally, 26% of Latina mothers with preschool-age children reported IPV in their current or most recent relationship .
- Research with Latin@s living near the US-Mexico border found that 37.5% had experienced IPV over their lifetimes.
- In a national sample, 41% of Latina mothers involved in child welfare and whose children remained in the home reported experiencing IPV in their lifetime, 33% of whom had experienced IPV in the last year with 27% reporting severe IPV. US-Born Latina mothers experienced more frequent episodes of violence in the past year when compared to immigrant Latina mothers (5.59 vs. 2.72).
- IPV often includes economic or financial abuse and sexual and reproductive coercion and can co-occur with other forms of abuse, for example:
- A study of 2,000 Latinas found that 63.1% of women who identified 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.
- A national sample of Latinas examining the forms of victimization including physical assault, sexual violence, stalking, threat victimization, and witnessing violence found that more than half of the women surveyed (53.6%) reported at least one victimization over a lifetime, and about two-thirds (66.2%) of those women had more than one victimization.
- Among 362 Latinas seeking family planning services about half (51%) had experienced IPV and 34% reported reproductive coercion . Other studies have also reported a link between IPV, reproductive coercion  and unintended pregnancies for Latina survivors. In fact one study found that 21% of pregnant Latinas experienced both reproductive coercion and IPV increasing their risk for an unplanned pregnancy.
- Research is beginning to document economic and work-related IPV among Latin@s. For Latina survivors, physical and sexual IPV co-occurred with economic abuse. Economic control, i.e. when the abuser controls or limits the victims access to resources, was the most common form of economic abuse.
- Economic sabatoge, such as when an abuser interferes with their partners work outside the home, has also been documented.
- One study reported abusive strategies such as on the job surveillance, on the job harrassment, and work disruption tactics. However, they also found unique strategies experienced by Latin@s, such as denying access to a driver’s license, lying about childcare arrangements, and sending the partner to their country of origin temporarily.