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National Latina Network

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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.

In light of recent immigration enforcement policies, the apprehension to call the police due to the fear of deportation has become more salient for many Latina survivors.

  • Immigrant Latinas may fear deportation while seeking help from social services6.
  • In a recent study, immigrant Latina survivors reported a decrease in the likelihood of calling the police due to heightened immigration enforcement policies and increased fear of deportation26.
  • Latina survivors report that immigration status is often used as a control mechanism to ensure that they do not leave the abusive situation19.
  • Immigration status is a common and powerful control mechanism used by partners of immigrant women to force them to stay in a relationship6.
  • The strength of this control tool is amplified by the current realities of heightened deportation and immigration enforcement26.
  • A survey of over 500 foreign-born Latina women found that 14% of participants reported experiencing problems in accessing IPV services due to immigration issues, some reporting they were denied IPV services for lack of proper identification3.
  • Threatening Latina survivors to take away their children if they leave their partners was an especially powerful strategy used by men against undocumented, non-English speaking women10.

In addition to immigration, studies have found that language and cultural differences act as significant barriers to Latina survivors’ ability to access services.

  • There is little awareness of IPV services and options among Latina survivors32.
    • Women report a lack of knowledge about available resources in the community as a common barrier to services17.
    • Less than 3 in 10 Latinas had heard of IPV protective orders. Not many knew about local domestic violence agencies16.
  • Lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate services is also a barrier for many Latina survivors, as it is for women from many other racial/ethnic groups.
    • A study found that 1 in 3 shelters did not have any Spanish-speaking staff.
    • Only half of the participating shelters offer child-related services.
    • Additionally, many of the problems stemming from diverse cultural values were not respected and went unresolved12