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Hispanic and Latina Domestic Violence Resources

Mejor sola que mal acompañada: para la mujer golpeada / For the Latina in an Abusive Relationship (edición bilingüe)Mejor sola que mal acompañada: para la mujer golpeada
(For the Latina in an Abusive Relationship - bilingual edition)

If you're a Latina involved in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, this book is for you. "Mejor Sola Que Ma Acompanada" offers support, understanding, and practical information on many issues and questions, including: what abuse is; family and cultural expectations; getting police, medical, and legal assistance; where you can go if you leave your home; what the church may say; protecting your children; and dealing with discrimination.

This book also discusses special problems of the undocumented woman, the woman with few resources, and the woman who speaks little or no English. Informative and affirming, "Mejor Sola" is an invaluable resource for counselors, shelter workers and activists, and an empowering handbook for the Latina who wants to break free from the cycle of abuse.

Research on Domestic Violence in Hispanic Communities
"He Has Me Tied with the Blessed and Damned Papers": Undocumented-Immigrant Battered Women in Phoenix, Arizona. Olivia Salcido, Madelaine Adelman. Human Organization. Washington: Summer 2004.Vol.63, Iss. 2; pg. 162, 11 pgs

Undocumented-immigrant battered women in the borderlands have been pushed and pulled across the U.S.-Mexico border seeking socioeconomic advancement, maintenance of sociocultural ties, and physical security for themselves and their children. Legality and illegality play a central role in the lives of these women due to a combination of factors, such as how immigration policies linked to the needs of corporate capitalism have led to the creation of the "undocumented" population in the U.S. Southwest. Based on ethnographic research on battering among immigrants in Phoenix, Arizona, we bring a domestic violence perspective to immigration policy and an immigration perspective to domestic violence research to trace how battering contributes to illegality and how immigration policies contribute to men's battering. We explore how border crossing and criminality can constitute survival as well as battering strategies and reflect on the place of kin and family in how immigrant women from Mexico struggle simultaneously around being "illegal" and battered. We conclude the analysis with a reflection on the theoretical and policy implications of this study.

Acculturation, Drinking, and Intimate Partner Violence Among Hispanic Couples in the United States: A Longitudinal Study. Raul Caetano, Suhasini Ramisetty-Mikler, Christine McGrath. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. Thousand Oaks: Feb 2004.Vol.26, Iss. 1; pg. 60.

This article examines the 5-year association between acculturation, drinking, and male-to-female partner violence and female-to-male partner violence among Hispanic couples in the United States. A national representative sample of Hispanic couples 18 years of age or older was interviewed in 1995 and 2000. Both members of the couple were independently interviewed. Differences in prevalence rates of male-to-female partner violence and female-to-male partner violence, incidence, and recurrence across acculturation groups are not significant. Drinking is associated with acculturation among women. Couples with mixed acculturation level (high-medium) are less at risk for male-to-female partner violence. An increase of five standard drinks per week in men's drinking decreases the risk of female-to-male partner violence by 10%. Acculturation level at Time 1 is not associated with male-to-female partner violence and female-to-male partner violence status 5 years later.

Arellano, C. M., Kuhn, J. A., and Chavez, E. L. (1997). Psychosocial Correlates of Sexual Assault Among Mexican American and White non-Hispanic Adolescent Females. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 19(4), 446-460.

A sample of 1,121 Mexican American and White non-Hispanic adolescent females were surveyed in order to examine the rates and correlates of sexual abuse in both groups. Psychosocial characteristics of those reporting sexual abuse (mean age 16.51 years) were compared to those reporting no sexual assault history (mean age 16.57 years). The results indicated that White non-Hispanic adolescents were twice as likely to report sexual assault as compared to Mexican American adolescents. Although rates of sexual assault appeared to differ across ethnicity, ethnicity did not seem to effect the relationship between sexual assault and psychosocial outcomes of victims. In general, sexual assault victims reported more social isolation, emotional distress, and more atypical behavior, including drug and/or alcohol use. Sexual assault victims also reported problems with school adjustment and choice of friends. In addition, they were more likely to come from homes with parental substance use and family conflict.

Lira, L. R., Koss, M. P., and Russo, N. F. (1999). Mexican American Women's Definitions of Rape and Sexual Abuse. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 21(3), 236-265.

This paper addresses the concept of rape from the perspective of Mexican American immigrant women living in America. It begins with an overview of cultural meanings of rape and sexual abuse and the impact thereof within an appreciation of cultural differences affected by religious norms, images of women, and notions of sexuality among Latinas. The study presented in this paper involved 17 Mexican American women living in Arizona who participated in four focus groups. Their discussions focused on issues pertaining to unwanted sexual contact. Definitions elicited from these discussions included notions of rapto, violacion, and abuso sexual. Furthermore, the women discussed child rape and abuse, adult rape and abuse, the causes of rape, wife rape, the causes of wife rape, and ultimately, the silence of victims. The intermingling of traditional and modern meanings of such concepts should not be underestimated nor easily overlooked when addressing the issue of rape among Latinas. Research, prevention, intervention, and treatment programs must therefore be sensitive toward culturally appropriate approaches to this issue and must be mindful of the language used to express the various experiences and perceptions in order to gage an accurate assessment of the prevalence of rape among Latinas. Due to the significance of silence and the rape experiences reported by the participants, it is very likely that underreporting is a grave reality among Latinas.

Hispanic Domestic Violence: STATISTICS

Hispanic Victims of Violent Crime, 1993-2000 (PDF)
Summary findings from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

ARTICLE: Latinas Create Own Domestic Violence Strategies

Run Date: 05/10/01

By Mariel Garza
WEnews correspondent

Latinas told advocates they wanted an end to family violence, but not their relationships with their spouses or companions. Now, several agencies have culturally specific programs for Latinos, while committing themselves to the safety of Latinas.

PASADENA, Calif. (WOMENSENEWS)--In the early 1990s, Julia Perilla started listening to abused Latina women and what they told her: Consider the men.

A former battered wife herself, Perilla was working with a community-based project for Latino families torn apart by domestic violence. Traditionally, the response to domestic violence in the United States is to rescue the women from their partners, help them establish lives of their own and then refer the cases to the criminal justice system.

But for many Latinas, this approach just doesn't work. And that's what they told Perilla, a clinical community psychologist and an assistant research professor at Georgia State University. The reality is that many women want to remain with their husbands, they don't want to leave. What they want is an end to the violence and that won't happen unless the men too can get help.

Though reluctant at first to change her own approach, Perilla said she began to see that these women were right, and she set about finding a way to help the men as well as the women. This eye-opening experience was the beginning of a new approach to stopping domestic violence in Latino families.

Focusing on the men who batter rather than just on helping women is a revolutionary concept in the advocacy community and has been met with some resistance because it's not the traditional approach: Remove the women and punish the men.

In Novel Approach, Community Sets the Agenda: Focus on the Batterer "The community being the one that sets the agenda is a new idea," Perilla said. "That has not usually been the case." But in this instance, it is the right approach, she told a conference on domestic violence, focusing on the batterer in the Latino community.

The conference, entitled "Latinos Who Batter," was organized by the Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence, or Alianza, a group of Latino advocates, community activists, practitioners, researchers and survivors of domestic violence, working together to find solutions that will end abuse in Latino communities. More than 200 people attended, connected and shared ideas and programs that have worked.

"The forum illustrates the importance of women and men working together to end family violence," said Adelita Medina, executive director of the Alianza. "Why should women carry that responsibility on their own? Domestic violence is a societal problem. Non-violent men can and should be positive role models for kids and for other men."

One such program is El Hombre Noble, the Noble Man, a curriculum used by the National Compadres Network in California designed to help men learn accountability for their violence and how to be a positive force in the lives of their families.

Men Look Back in History, So They Can Heal and Move Forward. Woven into the lessons of El Hombre Noble are stories--stories from the ancient times before the Spanish conquistadors razed the Aztec empire, stories of the battles and violence in the years since and the current stories of healing. All of these tales give the men a larger and deeper perspective of their violence in relation to their history. Ceremony and imagery are also used: The men gather in a circle and use prayer to help them become noble men.

"You look backward so you can move forward," said Jerry Tello, director of the Los Angeles-based National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute and co-creator of the program. "It's all directed at the next generation, 'los ninos,' so that the next generation is better."

Fernando Mederos, co-creator of the Evolve program, developed for abusive men of color in Connecticut, challenged some of the beliefs about why men abuse women, such as: That's the way men are or it's biology. He also expressed concern about some religious beliefs that espouse male superiority.

It's none of those things, Mederos said. "It's about oppression. ... It's the nature of power and control."

Nearly one-third of all adult women in the United States are assaulted by their partners, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. While there is no evidence that the incidence of domestic violence is any greater in Latino families than in any other families, it does occur in a different context.

Immigration status, especially illegal immigration, may make a woman afraid to report her battering partner lest he--and sometimes she--be deported.

Diversity issues also are important--not just the differences among Latin American cultures, but also the diversity of particular experience, such as how recently a family immigrated to the United States. A first-generation family is going to have different issues than a third-generation family, as would a family from the mountains of Guatemala compared to one from the high-rises of Mexico City, Perilla said.

Abusive Men Often Come From Countries Torn by Civil War. "Another thing that is crucial to working with the Latino men is that many also come with a history of trauma--profound post-traumatic stress--because they've come from war-torn situations, civil war situations and horrible types of violent experiences," said Ricardo Carrillo, a licensed clinical psychologist, as well as a co-creator of the El Hombre Noble model.

"To deal with the domestic violence exclusively and not attend to those issues really limits the utility and is not fair to the needs of those people," said Carrillo, the director of the training and technical assistance division for the Alianza.

Instead of breaking up the families, the idea is to heal and retrain the men, Carrillo said. But the training must be culturally relevant. "You have to be able to speak the language, and you have to be able to understand their attitudes and beliefs," he said. "You have to know something about migration. We have many men who have migrated from Mexico, Central America and South America."

For the most part, the models for batterer intervention programs focused on getting abusive men to take responsibility for their violence and restore a balance in their families with respectful and functional relationships.

The models included Colectivo de Hombres por Relaciones Igualitarias (Men's Collective for Equal Relationships), which has been used for seven years in Mexico City and encourages men to renounce their violence. Another program is Caminar Latino (Latino Journey), a culturally specific intervention program for batterers developed in 1995 in Atlanta in response to the needs of abused Latinas.

"Latino Journey reflects our vision of 'walking with' people and families on our common road to nonviolence,'" Perilla said later. "The name also implies our belief that we are not the experts, but rather fellow journeyers with the people with whom we work."

Domestic violence is a problem for homosexual couples as well, and the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organization presented its model, Amores que Matan, or Love That Kills.

All of the models focus on the batterer while keeping women safe, and all take different approaches. One of the goals of the Alianza's new research center in Atlanta is to evaluate different programs to find what works best in different situations.

"We're going about it in different ways," said Georgia State University research professor Perilla, "but I think we're all on the same page with the idea that we don't want the domestic violence to continue into the next generation."

Mariel Garza is a free-lance writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Reason and Latingirl.

Hispanic Domestic Violence: LINKS
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Last Updated: March 3, 2011