How Intimate Partner Violence Affects Women of Color

Women of color tend to experience higher rates of domestic violence and sexual assault compared to Caucasian women, and they often face additional barriers to accessing support services.

By the Numbers:

• Black women experience intimate partner violence at rates 35% higher than white women.
• Native American women experience intimate partner violence at rates 50% higher than any other ethnic group.
• Latina women are 50% less likely to report abuse compared to survivors from other ethnic groups, in part due to barriers like anti-immigration laws.

Barriers for Women of Color Who Have Experienced Domestic or Sexual Violence:
Each community of color has challenges and circumstances that are unique to their community. However, there are common factors that account for many of the barriers survivors of color face as they seek help:

• Cultural and/or religious beliefs that restrain the survivor from leaving the abusive relationship or involving outsiders.
• Strong loyalty binds to race, culture and family.
• Distrust of law enforcement, criminal justice system, and social services.
• Lack of service providers that look like the survivor or share common experiences.
• Lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate services.
• 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 ethnicity.
• Attitudes and 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.

Cultural values and beliefs that may make women of color more vulnerable:

    • “I don’t know any different. This is normal.”
      “God will take care of it. The Lord will change him.”
      “I don’t tell my family business or air my dirty laundry to the public.”
      “How can I trust the police to help me?”
      “I’m responsible for keeping my family together.”
      “I can’t be an embarrassment to my family.”
      “I’m strong and can get through this on my own. It will get better.”

Community Attitudes That Inhibit Disclosure and Intervention:

• Negative, misleading definitions of abuse such as being told pushing and shoving are not serious
• Distrust of institutions: concerns related to police response to women of color; legal system involvement