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Primary Sources: What Hispanics Say They Need to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence in their Communities

Photograph of a young Latina woman with a young man in the background.

Needs and Preferences for the Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence Among Hispanics: A Community's Perspective” (abstract). Journal of Primary Prevention, Vol. 34, No. 4, August 2013.

What it’s about: Researchers wanted to find out how to create effective, culturally-tailored programs to prevent intimate partner violence among Hispanics in Miami. The researchers held nine focus groups with a total of 76 domestic violence service providers, victims and community members to gain their perspectives on the problem and possible solutions.

Why read it: Research suggests that Hispanics in the United States experience higher rates of violence at the hands of intimate partners than other groups. However, few programs that aim to prevent intimate partner violence take cultural factors (e.g. faith, acculturation and traditional gender roles) and contextual factors (e.g. immigration, discrimination and community resources) into account. This study sheds light on what Hispanics who experience IPV need and want in order to recover, which subgroups are at highest risk for IPV, and considerations for creating a culturally-tailored IPV prevention program based on the findings.

Biggest takeaways for family and youth workers: Focus group discussions identified immigrants and young people as the highest priority groups to target in prevention efforts. Participants perceived undocumented immigrants as being the most vulnerable to intimate partner violence because fear of not obtaining legal status or being deported might motivate them to stay in unhealthy relationships. Youth are at an age when they haven’t yet established norms regarding intimate relationships. Participants discussed designing interventions to detect the first warning signs for future violence.

In the eyes of focus group participants, culture was a double-edged sword. Many of the cultural factors that place Hispanics at risk for intimate partner violence were also seen as strengths. For example, the emphasis on family may lead women to preserve the family structure despite abuse. But close family ties can also provide the support women need to leave an abuser.

The United States may offer more high-quality, comprehensive services compared to those available in participants’ home countries, participants said. Despite this strength, many Hispanics, especially undocumented immigrants, are unfamiliar with the services available to them, or what their rights are.  

Wide-scale prevention programs. The researchers recommend that anti-domestic violence advocates create wide-scale prevention programs aimed at changing cultural norms among Hispanics. Such messages could be disseminated in schools, immigration centers, neighborhoods, churches and businesses.

Culturally-tailored. The researchers say cultural factors and contextual factors need to be addressed and integrated into prevention programs.

Gender-specific. The researchers also say both HIspanic boys and girls need such teen dating violence prevention education before they reach adulthood.

Additional references: Victoria Mitrani, Professor of Nursing and Health Studies at the University of Miami and one of the authors of this study, gave a presentation about the study’s implications for intimate partner violence prevention among Hispanics. Last year, we interviewed the CDC’s  Andra Tharp about Dating Matters, a community-based effort to prevent dating violence.

 

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