Abuse in the Latinx Community

Domestic violence is an issue that can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender identity, economic status, or sexual orientation. It impacts people from all walks of life and can manifest in a variety of different ways. How abuse manifests depends on the family and community the survivor lives in, as well as where that community exists.

A person’s culture can also have an impact on how the domestic violence is viewed, as well as what steps the survivor may feel comfortable taking to be in a safer place.

According to the National Latin@ Network, about 1 in 3 Latinas (34.4%) will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime, and 1 in 12 Latinas have experienced IPV in the past 12 months.

While this rate is approximately the same as rates of abuse for white people, there are different factors in the Latinx community that can create added challenges and barriers to getting support.

Cultural context

Cultural factors found in the Latinx community, such as familismo and religion, can create added challenges for folks who want to talk about the abuse they are experiencing.

Familismo refers to the importance of family in most Latinx households. Keeping the family whole is seen as a priority in Latinx communities, and many believe the family is more important than the safety and comfort of one person, even if they are experiencing abuse. Oftentimes the community will encourage (or pressure) someone who is experiencing IPV to remain with their partner. This value also greatly affects gender role expectations, with male partners typically being the “breadwinner” of the family, while the female partner is more responsible for the well-being and cohesiveness of the family.

This can increase the likelihood of financial abuse due to those expectations, with the female partner potentially not having any control or input on the family finances. This lack of financial freedom can also make it challenging for the person experiencing abuse to leave their relationship as they may not have the financial security to care for themselves and their children.

Religion also plays a strong role in most parts of the Latinx community. According to the Pew Research Center, around 48% of Latinx individuals identify as Catholic, with another 19% identifying as Christian Protestant.

While religion can be a comfort for people experiencing abuse and can provide communities of support, it can also create issues for people experiencing abuse.

Oftentimes these religious beliefs can prevent taking actions steps because the victim or survivor does not believe in separation or divorce. A negative reaction from a religious leader to the abuse can lead victims or survivors to question themselves or cause them to feel pressured to make their marriage work.

Challenges and barriers

Members of the Latinx community can face unique challenges or barriers to receiving support for the abuse they are experiencing.

A major obstacle to getting support for abuse within the Latinx community is finding programs and resources that are culturally and linguistically appropriate. Many members of the Latinx community speak Spanish as their primary language and learned English as a secondary language. If a shelter or domestic violence resource in the area does not have Spanish speaking staff it can cause victims and survivors to hesitate in reaching out for help, as they may not feel comfortable expressing what they have experienced.

Immigration status can also create barriers for folks who are wanting to get support. Many people do not know if their immigration status will impact their ability to get support, or fear that reaching out for support may cause Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be involved. These fears of possible deportation can lead immigrant survivors in the Latinx community to stay away from support services and increases their fear of law enforcement involvement.

Help is available

While these barriers do exist, it does not mean that help is not available. Our advocates understand these challenges and can work with you to create an action plan that best fits your situation.

Whether you have questions about your situation or are looking for resources and programs that offer culturally appropriate support in a variety of languages, we can help.

Our anonymous and confidential services are available 24/7 through call, chat, or text and are available in both English and Spanish. We also have access to a Language Line interpretation service, allowing us to communicate in over 200 languages. No matter what you are going through, we are here for you.