Domestic Violence: Minority Groups and Women

Posted: July 17, 2014 by tinamaschi in Uncategorized

Domestic Violence

By Flor Melgar-Soto

Domestic Violence happens regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, age, religion, education or employment status (Summary Report, 2010). Domestic violence is a broad social problem that has been affecting many women around the world. Therefore, I will target the social problem that it is domestic violence in the Latino population in order to develop a program for this population. Latina women are usually grouped into a Hispanic category regardless of citizenship or legal status, and measurements have not accounted for non citizens that experience violence (Angel & M.Frias, 2005). At my agency for domestic abuse, there are few Latina women who come to look for help and support. However, I was able to notice that most of the Hispanic churches are filled out by Latina women rather than men. Most of these women come because they need help, healing, guidance, and support from their pastors and leaders, and they feel safe in the environment of the church rather than visiting a public agency. In a more recent study of U.S couples, Ellison and colleagues (1999) reported that both men and women who attend religious services regularly are less likely to commit acts of domestic violence (Christopher G. Ellison; Kristin L. Anderson, 2001). Most Latina women are afraid to visit agencies of domestic violence due to many factors, such as barriers of language, lack of time, legal status, deeply-ingrained cultural attitudes about marriages, taboos, stigmatization, fear of deportation, religion, and so on as compared to their counterpart white Americans who have more access to agencies of domestic abuse. According to immigrant advocates, abusive husbands or boyfriends often threaten their partners with turning them over to immigration authorities because of their undocumented status. Sometimes the abuser will have legal status but refuses to apply for legal status for their undocumented partner to keep them dependent and in the relationship. “One study reports that 77 percent of women with dependent immigrant status are battered” (Narayan, 1995).


The case of Amy who shaken many families in the United States has brought consciousness and awareness in regard of domestic abuse. Amy was a young white girl who married the man of her dreams who later murdered her. Her ex-husband shot Amy and kill her immediately with two bullets on her head. The crime occurred in Pennsylvania on November 8, 2001. Domestic violence happens usually behind doors. The detective stated that “there are three positive outcomes in abusive relationship that is either the battered stop the abuse, or the victim is going to leave the relationship or someone is going to die”. Amy’s ex-husband was retired from the Army and he was unemployed because of his aggressive behavior. Amy used to work in a hardware where she met her ex-husband ten years ago. They fell in love and had a baby. They were happy at the beginning or their relationship, but after he returned from the war and settle down. He started to act strange; he used to drive his wife to her job and pick her up everyday and call her constantly to her job. The abuse kept escalating from verbal abuse to physical abuse. She used to go to her work with bruises on her body. She denied her husband’s abuse by lying and telling her co-workers that she fell. Until one day, one of her coworkers encouraged her to go to the police. Amy’s parents lived close to her town who encouraged her as well. Until, one day she decided to leave his abuser. However Amy was not aware of what would happened next. She decided to go back home to get some stuff for the baby while her parents and the baby waited in the car for her. Unfortunately, Amy never came back to the car. Her ex-husband was in the house waiting for her to kill her.

The story of Amy has brought a lot of consciousness and effort to make productive and positive changes in life of many women who suffer domestic abuse. The purpose to tell the story of Amy was to educate and inform when and how to leave the abuser by creating safety plan and providing temporary shelters and other resources that battered women might need. Effectively, the statistics has shown that domestic abuse has reduced drastically in the city of Pennsylvania and in the United States after telling the story of Amy.


The most relevant documents that provide guidance on addressing domestic abuse or violence are provided by UDHR, CEDAW, and UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. Therefore, domestic violence is one of many forms of violence against women that includes rape, sexual abuse, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, trafficking, forced prostitution, sexual harassment that constitute a violation to the human rights. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that were proclaimed in 1948 by the General Assembly of the UN and the foundation of the UN’s human rights system relayed that everyone should enjoy human rights without discrimination and affirms the equal rights of women and men.
However, in practice violations of women’s human rights have often been ignored and discriminated against women. The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) provides a detailed mandate to secure equality between women and men and to prohibit discrimination against women. The CEDAW also stated to “take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise” (Article 2(e)).

In 1992, the CEDAW Committee adopted General Recommendation 19 on “violence against women”, which defined violence as a form of discrimination against women, and emphasizes that governments are responsible for eliminating discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise, and that governments are required to prevent violations of rights by any actor, punish these acts and provide compensation.
The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1994) defines violence against women as: “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
Overall the UDRH, CEDAW, UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women serve as great guidance to address this issue with the only purpose to protect and educate victims of any type of abuse.
Across the United States there are several federal and state policies that were created with the purpose to protect and provide services to victims of domestic abuse. For instance the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), National Coalition of Domestic Violence, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence prevention Act, Domestic Violence & Stalking, New York State’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act, Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence; all these policies and laws were created and implemented to guide many abused women. The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) has provisions designed to improve both victim services and arrest and prosecution of battered. As described by the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, VAWA created a national domestic violence hotline and allocated substantial funds for a number of different kinds of initiatives and programs, including shelters and other services for battered women, judicial education and training programs, and programs to increase outreach to rural women. VAWA not only reauthorized STOP grants, which support programs designed to improve law enforcement and prosecution response to domestic violence, but also mandated that domestic violence advocates be involved in the planning and implementation of these programs. VAWA also reauthorized funds for Victim and Witness Counselors, who work with domestic violence victims in federal prosecutions.
A provision of VAWA that created a federal civil right of action—a right of action that would have allowed a victim of violence, such as sexual assault or domestic violence, to sue the perpetrator for civil damages resulting from the attack—was challenged as unconstitutional under United States law. A brief submitted in opposition to the challenge emphasized that VAWA was consistent with the United States’ international legal obligations to provide victims of gender based violence with effective remedies. Although that particular provision of the law was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, the remainder of the law remained intact.
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 created a new form of relief for victims of domestic violence in the United States. The new law created “U-Visas,” which allow immigrants who are victims of certain crimes, including domestic violence, or have information about those crimes, to apply for residency in the United States. A law enforcement official must certify that the individual’s assistance is necessary for the investigation.
Domestic Violence & Stalking: A Comment on the Model Anti-Stalking Code Proposed by the National Institute of Justice, Nancy K.D. Lemon, December 1994, provides an excellent overview of some of the issues that should be considered in drafting anti-stalking legislation. Critical to such legislation is that it account for the domestic violence context in evaluating whether the behavior is threatening, include implied threats in the definition of stalking, and be based on a “reasonable woman” standard, not a “reasonable person” standard in determining whether behavior was threatening.

New York State’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act creates a comprehensive network of services for victims of domestic violence. The Act requires social services districts to offer emergency shelter and other services, including advocacy, counseling and referrals. The Act requires shelters that receive funding under its provisions must to maintain a confidential address and also mandates that other government agencies keep such addresses confidential.
New York State’s law on warrantless arrest permits localities to establish mandatory arrest regulations or policies. The state’s law on criminal procedures for family offenses directs officers investigating “a family offense” under that provision to “advise the victim of the availability of a shelter or other services in the community” and to “immediately give the victim written notice of the legal rights and remedies available to a victim of a family offense.” This law provides an example of the kind of information an officer might give to a victim, and mandates that the notice be prepared in multiple languages if necessary.
Each federal and state policy has been very effective by addressing domestic abuse as a national issue. According to immigrant advocates, abusive husbands or boyfriends often threaten their partners with turning them over to immigration authorities because of their undocumented status. Sometimes the abuser will have legal status but refuses to apply for legal status for their undocumented partner to keep them dependent and in the relationship. “One study reports that 77 percent of women with dependent immigrant status are battered.” (Narayan, 1995) Also, Asian women are trained to solve their problems at home without taking their problems to other women (Weil & Lee, 2004).

To end domestic violence in our communities, and in all the states of the United States, would be very unrealistic. However, I will create an effective program that would benefit many Latina, African-American, and Asian women by ensuring a safe environment and by accommodating their schedules to openly discuss topics related to domestic abuse with the goal to reduce domestic violence within their households through a psycho-education model. The program that I will create will be named “We Are Here For You”. This program is intended to serve the Latina, African-American, and Asian women who suffer or have suffered domestic violence to increase their self-esteem, regain their self-confidence, improve relationships with their love ones, connect to the right resources, and reduce their cultural views regarding their abusers by attending workshops at their local churches confidentially with the permission of their spiritual leaders. Creating this program would impact their lives in a positive way for themselves, their children, families, and communities, and the country itself. The goal of the program “We are Here for You” would be exclusively to connect women from different cultures to the Greenwich DAS. Women gather more at churches or other places where they can feel safe. The program would develop on strength-based and community-based. We know that this will be a challenge, but not impossible. The key to develop this program would be to have knowledge in culture competence.
The program will consist of various aspects in order to create wraparound services that will increase awareness in the Latino, African America, and Asian women. There will be two facilitators and two co-facilitators; one facilitator who speak Spanish and one co-facilitator who speak Spanish. The responsibility of the two facilitators would be to facilitate the workshops at the churches to reach Latino and African-American women and workshops at the hospitals to train the Asian nurses who can target Asian women. Facilitators will also be responsible for administering the curriculum and covering all five goals over a six-twelve month period. Facilitators will be responsible for scheduling all groups, and activities. Facilitators will be charged with establishing healthy, supportive relationships with participants and to share life experiences that will be conducive. Facilitators will also be expected to respect each individual and their experiences and support their ideas in order to promote autonomy and a supportive environment. Facilitators will also incorporate parenting skills, including coping skills, child care needs, medical needs, and information about financial assistance, and if needed, programs and resources that facilitators, co-facilitators and therapists will collaborate with in order to effectively serve these women from different cultures.
Lastly, the program “We Are Here For You” that I will develop with churches and hospitals would be great if we get the support from outside organizations and the DAS staff to make it happen. For instance, the Greenwich DAS works together with the Greenwich Police. The DAS trains police officers how to respond effectively to victims of domestic violence. The Greenwich police play a relevant role in the community. The DAS also has a strong connection to The Greenwich Department of Social Services (GDSS), where clients are referred to or from. The agency also counts on the support of the YWCA. The YWCA conducts big events to donate money to the Greenwich DAS. The DAS also provides temporary shelters to victims of domestic abuse. Therefore, it is very crucial that DAS is connected with all these organizations to keep moving forward and reach many victims of domestic violence. The agency also works together with Goodwill. Women are referred to Goodwill to look for jobs based on their skills and capacities. Goodwill also helps these women write resumes and learn how to surf The Internet. Also, the agency provides many supportive groups, such as divorce groups, financial empowerment seminars, Scream parenting; Banana Splits for children and families, healing after the storm, energy work, and so on. According to the CCADV, the most frequently cited organizations were school systems and law enforcement. Therefore, building a strategic partnership with my program will have more positive outcomes in reducing victims of domestic violence and raising awareness in the community through faith-based organizations and community leaders. Personally, I am really excited to start this program, and I am certain that it will surely change many lives. Even though I am aware that other organizations might be against us, I would rather take the risk with the extensive support of The CCADV. This program will be a challenge to reach women from different ethnic backgrounds, but we all have a common denominator as human beings, the need to be loved and cared. By having knowledge in culture competence would help to design this program and be more effective to reach these women in need.

If this program is created and improve for the minority group of women who suffers domestic abuse will reduce victimization and injury among Latino, African-American, and Asian women at risk of intimate partner violence by providing culturally-specific and competent interventions. Then, we will ensure that Latino, African American, and Asian women who have repeatedly been abused by a spouse or partner become self-sufficient and able to avoid future relationships with abusers. Also, we will provide cost-effective intake, screening, psychosocial and health-related assessments, in addition to advocacy and referral services to acquire benefits and other resources necessary to foster human agency, self-esteem and well-being, and reduce the likelihood of offending and recidivism. Last but not least, we will assist minority groups with former domestic violence in their transition from leaving the abuser until they acquire a successful re-socialization and reintegration into the community. Finally, we will develop more outreach programs to domestic abuse victims who have experienced domestic.

In order to best meet the program’s goals, the most effective tool to measure would be through pre-tests and post-tests. The test below would be used as pre-test and post-test. The process for the pre-test would be used to collect the pre-test before the presentation of the workshops as a way to know the attendees’ knowledge and awareness about domestic abuse. At the end of the workshops, the post-test would be collected. It is the same test but named as a post-test to find out how many participants are aware of domestic violence after the workshop. Most of the questions below will be discussed in the workshop with the purpose to raise awareness and share resources in the community, such as more supportive groups within the agency, financial empowerment seminars, divorce groups, parenting groups, court advocacy, bilingual counselors, and so on. The pre-test and post-test are indicated below. Please note the pre-test and post-test will be translated for Spanish women. We will also implement more questions at the end of the pre/post-test related to the workshops. The purpose would be to know more about our work and how effective we were with the workshops. Finally, the client demographic and descriptive characteristics would be very relevant in order to find more information about the domestic partners, housing arrangements, employment status and other characteristics (Kettner, Moroney, & Martin. 2013).


Angel, R. J., & M.Frias, S. (2005). The Risk of Partner Violence among Low-Income Hispanic Subgroups. Journal of Marriage and Family, 552-564.

Carraway, G. C. (July, 1991). Violence Against Women of Color. Stanford Law Review, 1301-1309.

CCADV. (2013, June 30). Domestic Violence Service Statistics, CT. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Abuse:

Debra Umberson; Kristy Anderson; Jennifer Glick; Adam Shapiro. (1998). Domestic Violence, Personal Control, and Gender. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 442-452.

Domestic Services. (2014, January). YWCA. Retrieved April 17, 2014, from YWCA Greenwich Eliminating Racism Empowering Women:

Eleanor Lyon, P., & Cris M. Sullivan, P. (2007, November). Outcome Evaluation Strategies for Domestic Violence Programs Receiving FVPSA Funding. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from FVPSA_Outcomes:

Gondolf, E. W. (1995). Alcohol Abuse, Wife Abuse, and Power Needs. Social Service Review, 274-284.

Kettner, P. M., Moroney, R. M., & Martin., L. L. (2013). Designing And Managing Programs- An Effective-Based Approach. Los Angeles/London/ New Delhi/Singapore/Washington DC: SAGE publications.

Narayan, U. (1995). “Male-Order” Brides: Immigrant Women Domestic Violence and Immigration Law. Hypatia, 104-119.

Summary Report. (2010). Recuperado el 1 de July de 2014, de The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:

Weil, J. M., & Lee, H. H. (2004). Cultural Considerations in Understanding Family Violence Among Asian American pacific Islanders Families. Journal of Community Helath Nursing, 217-227.

Gover A.R, Welton-Mitchell C.C, Belknap J.J, DePrince A.P. (2013). When Abuse happens again:Women’s reasons for not reporting new incident of intimate partner abuse to law enforcement.

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. (2010).

Hambrook, E. (2011, January). Domestic Violence against Women is more common than Domestic Viloence Against Men.

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