Under-reported Domestic Violence

Intimate partner violence has gone under reported in Asian and Latino Americans

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Getting help with domestic violence is tough at best. What if there’s a language and cultural barrier and fear of deportation and bringing shame on the family?

A recent study showed that Asian-Americans are more than four times less likely to reach out for help with domestic violence than other minorities or whites.

Domestic violence services need to be prepared to handle language and cultural differences.

"Reach out for help immediately if you’re experiencing domestic violence."

Hyunkag Cho, PhD, assistant professor of social work at Michigan State University, led an investigation into the nature of domestic violence in Asian-American and Latino-American households.

Dr. Cho’s conducted two studies on intimate partner violence (IPV) in Asian-American and Latino-American households. Study results showed that there are many reasons why these two groups underreport IPV.

Language barriers, sociocultural norms, fear of deportation or bringing shame on themselves and their partners are among the top reasons for avoiding IPV help.

In one study, researchers surveyed 350 people who had experienced IPV from the National Latino and Asian-American Study. Asians were found to be less likely to seek help than Latinos to seek help for IPV.

Asians affected by IPV contacted mental health services 5 percent of the time, while Latinos did so 15 percent of the time.

In another study, researchers surveyed 755 people who had experienced IPV. Researchers discovered that when it came to taking advantage of mental health services, Asians were four times less likely to do so than whites, blacks or Latinos.

Researchers also found that when it came to seeking mental health services, the elderly and men were the least likely to seek help.

Dr. Cho said, “Authorities and health care providers need to be equipped with information and resources for adequately addressing the needs of victims of domestic violence among Asians and other racial minorities.”

In 2010, 36 percent of immigrants to America were Asian and 31 percent were Latinos, ranking 1st and 2nd for overall immigration.

People who have experienced IPV use medical care more often and have a higher health care cost than people who do not experience IPV.

Dr. Cho said, “We need to look at the bigger picture. We need more outreach efforts to increase access to domestic violence services.”

The study, “Use of Mental Health Services Among Asian and Latino Victims of Intimate Partner Violence”, was published in June in the journal Violence Against Women. The study, “Intimate Partner Violence Among Asian Americans and Their Use of Mental Health Services: Comparisons with White, Black and Latino Victims”, was published in April in The Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 29, 2012
Last Updated:
July 31, 2012