Family related attitudes and beliefs influencing risk and support seeking among female victims of domestic and sexual violence in El Paso, Texas

Diane Ilene Huerta, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

To provide effective prevention and intervention strategies for victims of domestic and sexual violence, health care professionals, law enforcement responders, and service providers must adequately understand the factors that influence risk and support seeking processes among victims. More than 12 million men and women become victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking yearly, over 24 people per minute (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013). About one in four women and one in seven men have experienced severe physical intimate partner violence at some point in their life (CDC, 2013). Minority populations are at disproportionately higher risk for domestic and sexual violence owing to existing social inequities, assumed gender roles, and cultural expectations (Boykins et al., 2010). Hispanic (Mexican-American) families, which constitute the majority population in El Paso, Texas, are usually structured around patriarchal gender roles that influence risk to domestic and sexual violence, substance abuse, and other risky behaviors (Sanderson, Coker, Roberts, Tortolero, & Reininiger, 2004). Vulnerability for domestic violence is further increased for immigrant women who experience isolation, unemployment or low wages, and undocumented statuses. The majority of current literature examining domestic and sexual violence risk among minority populations tends to describe any Hispanic sub-population as Latino or Hispanic, thereby ignoring the differences in group norms and risk factors in each Hispanic sub-population. ^ This study examines the factors which shape risk and support seeking for domestic and sexual violence by Hispanic women of Mexican origin, in relation to the regional contexts experienced by this specific minority population in a U.S.-Mexico border community (El Paso, Texas). ^ Qualitative data from 19 participants (5 individual interviews and 14 from three focus groups) were analyzed from a parent study titled "Immediate health and community reintegration outcomes from participating in a pilot sexual assault support program among female sexual violence victims in El Paso, Texas", conducted from March to December of 2013. All the participants were female victims of domestic and sexual violence, over the age of 18, who completed a sexual assault support group program at the Center Against Family Violence in El Paso, Texas. Of the five individual interviews, three were conducted in Spanish and all three of the focus groups were conducted primarily in Spanish. All interviews were translated to English for data analysis and analyzed according to the ethnographic research tradition. ^ Data analysis included description, analysis, and interpretation of the narratives. An open coding system was used to code all emerging themes and trends. The interpretation of trends and quotes was based on the contexts of the discussion, the question posed, and the reactions of participants. Emergent themes related to family attitudes and norms, gender roles, relationship norms, cultural norms, and immigrant/documented status of the victim and partner were used to generate hypotheses related to network norms and traits which influence risk and support seeking for domestic and sexual violence in the study population. ^ Childhood exposure to violence, immigrant status of the victim and perpetrator, gender roles and cultural norms related to addressing domestic and sexual violence seem to intersect to shape the risk and support seeking in the study population. The study findings have implications for design of public health interventions focusing on reducing domestic and sexual violence risk and increasing utilization of services for the same among Mexican-American women and children in the U.S.-Mexico border region.^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Health Sciences, Public Health|Sociology, Criminology and Penology|Hispanic American Studies

Recommended Citation

Huerta, Diane Ilene, "Family related attitudes and beliefs influencing risk and support seeking among female victims of domestic and sexual violence in El Paso, Texas" (2014). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1583921.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI1583921

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