October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Interpersonal Violence (IPV) is a pattern of many behaviors directed at achieving and maintaining power and control over an intimate partner. This can include physical violence, emotional abuse, isolation of the victim, economic abuse, intimidation, coercion and threats. While the impact of domestic violence and sexual assault crosses all social, economic, and racial lines, there are barriers and concerns that are unique to communities of color. High rates of poverty, limited education, fewer job resources, language barriers, and fear of deportation can increase the difficulty for finding help and support services.
Other barriers that separate people of color from helping services include:
- Cultural/religious beliefs that restrain the survivor from leaving an abusive relationship or involving outsiders
- Loyalty ties to race, culture and family
- Distrust of law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and social services due to negative experiences
- Lack of service providers that look like the survivor or share common experiences
- Lack of trust based on history of racism and classism in the United States
- Fear that their experience will reflect on or confirm the stereotypes placed on their ethnicity
- Assumptions of providers based on their ethnicity
- Attitudes/stereotypes about the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault in communities of color
- Legal status in the U.S. of the survivor and/or the batterer.
Culturally and historically, women of color have been looked to as the protectors of their family and community. Some women may feel religious or social obligations to forgive their partners’ behavior and endure the abuse for the “sake of the family”. Others need the partner’s income to survive. Adding to these challenges is a lack of collaboration between community-based social service programs that historically provide services to people of color.
All of these factors have led to an often marginalized and underserved population of survivors.
L.A. CADA provides culturally and linguistically response services for domestic violence survivors of color. If someone you know needs help, call us at (562) 906-2676.
Read: how different people of color are affected by domestic violence