Domestic Violence and Culturally Specific Factors, Part II

Every 9 seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States. 

  • “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.”
  • “Domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes.”
  • “Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.”
  • “Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.”
  • “The cost of domestic violence exceeds $8.3 billion annually.”

Barriers to help seeking behavior for domestic violence (DV) victims from cultural minority communities are significant enough to prevent access to medical care, support services to identify risk and need, and utilization of safe haven resources. DV can be a common set of behaviors, such as physical violence, intimate sexual violence, emotional abuse, social isolation, economic abuse, physical and emotional intimidation, coercion, and threats of harm to the victim or those connected to the victim. While these patterns of DV behavior occur across cultural, social and economic strata, there are specific factors that make it particularly difficult to penetrate traditional value-sets in culturally specific minority communities. These specific values, norms and expectations become barriers to care. Culturally competent assessments and interventions required include some of the following:

  • assessment of personal identification with a familial structure that is patriarchal with a strong interpretation of defining social roles and group function as more important than individual expression,
  • assessment of religious identification with practices that reinforces the belief of punishment and control,
  • assessment of purposeful social isolation aimed at controlling the victim’s social awareness and social comfort in the environment as well as social connectedness with others, and
  • assessment of fear or anxiety of social repercussions/rejection from cultural community and/or family.

It is extremely important to build services for DV cultural minority victims. Building services that can overcome barriers to help seeking behaviors is essential. Lastly, the evaluation of these trauma informed, culturally congruent services will benefit the larger service industry to replicate working models that can leverage care and improve access. Let’s continue the work of “breaking the silence of domestic violence.”

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