“Cultural Barriers To Seeking Help Within Hispanic Communities”
No demographic is immune to intimate partner violence or forms of domestic abuse. This unfortunate truth brings about the conversation regarding Hispanic struggles with respect to the widespread issue. In fact, there are a number of unique obstacles and barriers that Hispanic survivors face when dealing with something like domestic abuse. In celebration and acknowledgment of Hispanic Heritage month, there is a collective growing interest in the Hispanic community and the challenges they have faced. It is important to spread awareness and support for the Hispanic community during this time, in order to shift the focus in their direction and shed light on the challenges they have faced.
Individuals of the Hispanic community often face help-seeking barriers as a result of limited proficiency in the English language. Many domestic abuse help resources in the United States offer support and programs in the English language, making it especially more difficult for those not fluent. Furthermore, research demonstrates Hispanic survivors are more likely to underuse help services compared to other ethnic/racial groups. Cultural norms or “acceptance” of male violence within these communities also contribute to help-seeking barriers. As a result, Hispanic survivors are more tolerant of this behavior and thus stay in abusive relationships longer than other individuals by a factor of 10 years on average.
Fear of deportation and/or abandonment is a prevalent contributor to the issue. Immigration and citizenship status varies greatly among Hispanic individuals and can affect the way they are perceived. Due to this, some forms of discrimination may ensue among peers and/or supporters, further perpetuating barriers and drawbacks in seeking help. Immigration also often disrupts Hispanic families and support systems, thus leaving them isolated geographically and emotionally. Because of this, it may be hard for a Hispanic individual to leave or seek help from an abusive relationship, out of fear of further separation from a person close to them regardless of how they may be treated.
A combination of the preceding reasons contributes to the growing issue of domestic violence amongst Hispanic individuals. Researchers have also found that many Hispanic women who experience intimate partner violence often lack knowledge about their rights, U.S. laws, and available resources. Hispanics face common help-seeking barriers found in all survivor communities, however, there are quite a few unique barriers imposed on this demographic as a result of ethnicity. Hispanic survivors have had to greatly consider their culturally important role in their families before seeking help in order to not disrupt norms. This emphasis on family-loyalty can be damaging to some individuals being abused in any way because it ties them down to potentially dangerous situations. It is important that we as a global or national community work towards supporting our Hispanic individuals in making them aware of helpful resources to overcome these barriers and get them to proper help. In doing so, we can help break stigmas, decrease barriers, and strengthen the bonds between the Hispanic community and supportive peers.