Violence Against Women In Communities of Color : Overview
Vetta L. Sanders Thompson, Ph.D., National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center, University of Missouri - St. Louis
Despite a growing literature on violence against women, the data on women of color remains limited. It consists primarily of prevalence estimates for each group, in a variety of circumstances (homicide, sexual assault, physical assault, rural areas, during pregnancy, etc.). In addition, there are reviews that address the unique life circumstances of women of color that may affect their response to intimate partner violence. There are a limited number of studies of attitudes toward domestic violence and sexual assault in communities of color, as well as attitudes toward intervention efforts and shelters. More limited is the data available on ethnic specific treatment needs or programs. This omission limits knowledge needed to develop culturally sensitive intervention and prevention programs. We do know, however, that there are ethnic differences that must be addressed and understood from the cultural frame of victims. The articles in this section provide a review of current data and discussion.
Ethnic Minority Summaries
* Despite declining rates of intimate partner homicide, African American women face a higher risk for intimate homicide (homicide by the spouse, ex-spouse or boyfriend) than women of other races (Puzone, Saltzman, Kresnow, Thompson, & Mercy, 2000).
* Current data indicate a greater decline in spousal homicide for African American males (74%) compared to the decrease noted for African American females (45% decline from 1976 to 1998) (Rennison & Welchans, 2000).
* African American women (67%) are more likely to make reports of intimate violence to the police than women of other races/ethnicities are (Rennison & Welchans, 2000).
* The data on overall rates of intimate partner violence is mixed. NCVS data and FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics suggest rates of intimate partner violence 35% higher than that noted for European American females and more than twice the rate for women of other races and ethnicities (Rennison & Welchans, 2000). National Violence Against Women Survey data suggest that there are no significant differences in the rates of intimate partner violence observed among African American and European American women (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). Differences in prevalence rates are related to methodological differences. The NVAWS data are, however, considered the most accurate data available at this time.
1993-1998 Average Annual Female Rape/Sexual Assaults (per 1000 U.S. inhabitants)
American Indian+: 7.5/1000
African American: 3.7/1000
European America: 3.1/1000
Adapted from Rennison (2001)
+(See full report for caution on sample size.)
*NCVS (Rennison, 2001)and NVAWS (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000) data are consistent for rape and sexual assault. The surveys suggest few differences among African and European American women in rates of sexual assault.
* NCVS data (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000) suggest no significant difference in vulnerability to sexual assault among Hispanic and non-Hispanic women. In addition, there were no difference in intimate partner victimization among Hispanic and non-Hispanic women.
* Hispanic women were noted to report their victimization to the police at higher rates than non-Hispanic females (Rennison, 2001).
* Based on a sample from the 1992 National Alcohol and Family Violence Survey, Kaufman Kantor et al. (1994) reported significant differences among Hispanic groups (Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Cuban families [n=743]) in rates of domestic violence. Results suggested higher rates of domestic violence among Puerto Rican couples and the lowest rates of violence among Cuban couples. When cultural norms regarding violence approval, age, and economic stress were held constant, the rate of domestic violence among Hispanics, as a group, did not differ from that observed among Anglo-Americans (n=1,025).
* Torres, Campbell, Campbell, Ryan, King, Price, Stallings, Fuchs, & Laude (2000) noted that Hispanic women as a whole did not differ in rates of intimate partner violence during pregnancy (N=1004). However, subgroup differences were noted. Cuban and Central American partners were less likely to perpetrate violence against a pregnant partners, while Puerto Rican and African Americans reported the highest rates of violence during pregnancy. Less acculturated women (spoke Spanish only) were more likely to experience abuse during pregnancy.
* Perilla, et. al. (1994) studied factors associated with domestic violence among 60 immigrant Latinas. The level of respect, empathy and communication between the couple mediated the relationship between domestic violence, environmental stressors, and husband's drinking habits. It was also noted that the more a woman contributed to the family income the more likely she was to be abused. These variables require further study.
* Data on family violence among Asian Americans is fragmented and limited. Little data exists on various Asian and Pacific Island populations despite cultural differences. The overall violence rate among Asian Americans is low and existing data indicate that this is true for rape/sexual assault, as well (Rennison, 2001; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). The NVAWS data (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000) suggest no difference in the rate of physical assault for Asian American women and women of other racial ethnic groups. The estimates of intimate partner violence are based on small samples, however.
* Rimonte (1989) and Song (1986), while using non-random samples, indicate that domestic violence does occur and should be addressed in these communities.
* Merchant notes an increase in the number of agencies that have developed services to assist women in specific Asian American communities.
* Studies of domestic violence in American Indian communities remain limited. Clinical reports indicate that domestic violence is a serious problem in American Indian communities. A national survey, completed in 1985, to determine one-year prevalence rates in the general population found 15.5% of American Indian couples reporting violence in marital relationships and 7.2% reporting severe violence. This rate was higher than that noted among Whites. Approximately 12% of American Indian husbands completed one or more violent acts against their wife during the survey period (Bachman, 1992).
* NVAWS data suggest higher rates of rape/sexual assault and physical assault by an intimate partner among American Indians compared to women of other racial/ethnic groups. NCVS data also suggest higher rates of rape/sexual assault (Rennison, 2001; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). However, sample sizes are small and the NCVS data are based on fewer than ten cases.
* Bachman (1992) notes that 75% of American Indian women interviewed in shelters for battered women reported that their assault took place after the perpetrator had been drinking. This rate is substantially higher than that noted in the general population.
Bachman, R. (1992). Death and Violence on the Reservation: Homicide, Family Violence, and Suicide in American Indian Populations. CT: Auburn House.
Bureau of Justice Statistics (2000). Criminal Victimization in the United States, 1995, Chapter 2. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice.
Kaufman Kantor, G., Jasinski, J. L., Aldarondo, E. (1994). Sociocultural status and incidence of marital violence in Hispanic families. Violence and Victims, 9(3), 207-222.
Merchant, M. (2000). A comparative study of agencies assisting domestic violence victims: Does the South Asian community have special needs? Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 9, 249-259.
Perilla, J. L., Bakeman, R. & Norris, F. H. (1994). Culture and domestic violence: The ecology of Abused Latinas. Violence and victims, 9 (4), 325-339.
Puzone, C.A., Saltzman, L., Kresnow, M., Thompson, M., Mercy, J. (2000). National trends in intimate partner homicide: United States, 1976-1995. Violence Against Women, 6, 409-426.
Rennison, C. M. (2001). Violent Victimization and race, 1993-98, NCJ 176354. Washington, D. C.: U. S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Rennison, C. M. & Welchans, S. (2000). Intimate Partner Violence Special Report, NCJ 178247. Washington, D. C.: U. S. Department of Justice.
Rimonte, N. (1989). Domestic violence against Pacific Asians In Asian Women. United of California (Eds.) Making Waves (pp. 327-337). Boston: Beacon.
Song, Y. I. (1986). Battered Korean Women in Urban America. The Relationship of Cultural Conflict to Wife Abuse. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Psychiatry, Ohio State University. Columbus, Ohio.
Torres, S., Campbell, J., Campbell, D., Ryan, J., King, C., Price, P., Stallings, R., Fuchs, S., & Laude, M. (2000). Abuse during and before pregnancy prevalence and cultural correlates. Violence and Victims, 15, 303-321.
Tjaden, P. & Thoennes, N. (2000). Full report of the prevalence, incidence and consequences of violence against women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey (Publication 183781). Washington, D. C.: National Center Justice.