Domestic violence against women is an oppressive condition that extends across race, class, and gender. This work examines intimate partner violence against women in Memphis, Tennessee, focusing on Mexican immigrant and Mexican American female survivors of domestic violence.
Author M. Helena Vanderlei Collins interviews ten Mexican immigrant women and seven Mexican American women to investigate factors that influence help-seeking behavior. Collins focuses on the perceptions of Mexican immigrant and Mexican American women regarding the social services available to them and explores how their help-seeking behavior is affected by their degree of acculturation and the incidence of intimate partner violence.
Collins employs a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to answer seven key research questions. The quantitative instruments include ARSMA-II, the Inventory of Abusive Behavior, and a customized demographic questionnaire. The qualitative data is drawn from the semi-structured interviews with the domestic violence survivors. Collins concludes her study by describing the challenges women of Hispanic origin face when seeking help from social service providers and by offering recommendations on how to improve the quality of services these women receive.
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Are Mexican Immigrant and Mexican American Female Victims of Intimate Partner Violence Being Served in Memphis, Tennessee?Support Services for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence Among Mexican Immigrant and Mexican American Women in Memphis, Tennessee
By M. Helena Vanderlei Collins
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 M. Helena Vanderlei Collins
All right reserved.
Chapter OneViolence Against Women
Torres (2005) developed three models to explain family violence: the individual model, focusing on the personal attributes of the parties in a situation of conflict; the family model, emphasizing the dynamics among the family members; and the socio-cultural model, which focused the attention on the social structure. In Are Mexican Immigrant and Mexican American Female Victims of Intimate Partner Violence Being Serviced in Memphis, Tennessee? I include explanations of the three models; however, my personal position is that violence against women is not simply a non-desired collection of aggressive behaviors, as Ameliorists would suggest. It should be regarded as a systemic problem rooted in inequality. Ritzer (2002) introduced four principles explaining gender inequity as potential roots that trigger male violence. First, women have fewer resources, and opportunities, and less power and status than men do. Second, inequality derives from social norms, rather than from biological differences. Third, natural differences exist, yet those should not be translated as deficiencies. Fourth, both males and females "respond better to structures and situations striving for equality" (p. 396).
Regarding gender opportunities and power, the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA, 2005) reported that girls tend to be excluded in countries with poor educational infrastructure. Of the 800 million illiterates in the world, 64% are women. Similarly, in formal education, the gap in school attendance may leave behind up to 25% or 30% of uneducated girls. Although regional differences exist, in general, the disparity increases as women climb up the educational ladder. Similarly, more women than men (61%) are positioned in low status jobs, or they work in family businesses with unpaid jobs (60%). Women own less than 1% of the world's property and have fewer seats in national parliaments (16 %). At home, women do most of the household chores as unpaid work, and the value of this work is not even considered in the national statistics (UNPFA, 2005; UNTFWCW, 1995).
Lengermann and Niebrugge-Brantley (1992) discussed three of the following major feminist theories, which I paraphrase: (1) theories of difference: women's location in, and experience of, most situations is different from that of men in the situation; (2) theories of inequality: women's location in most situations is not only different from but less privileged than or unequal (italics in the original) to that of men; (3) theories of oppression: women are oppressed (Italics in the original), not just different from or unequal to, but "actively restrained, subordinated, molded, and used and abused by men" (p. 458); however, he said that "whenever women are subordinated, and they have been subordinated almost always and everywhere, they seem to have recognized and protested that situation in some form" (pp. 450-451).
Ritzer (2002) further reported that liberal feminists consider gender inequality to be supported by four elements: (a) "the social construction of gender" (pp. 163, 248), (b) "the division of labor" (p. 248), (c) "the difference in access to the public and private spheres" (p. 462), and (d) "the patriarchal system" (p.407). Torres (2005) declared that violent behavior is exerted against those in a lower hierarchical position. That is the reason "for inequality being a fertile soil for violence" (p. 47). Torres continued to explain that in a situation of violence, the aggressor's behavior is reinforced by defeating the victim. Society tolerates, forgives, and even encourages violence against women.
Geography and Culture in the Study of Violence Against Women
As defined by Smith (1990), culture is "a collective mode of life or repertoire of beliefs, styles, values, and symbol of a given group" (p. 171). Studying violence in its cultural context enriches the comprehension of behaviors bounded to particular times and places. Location is relevant in a study focused on the social, psychological, and cultural dimensions of violence. Females born in Pakistan have radically different possibilities for self-development than those born in the United States. To a great extent, location and context define the horizon of possibilities of each particular woman. For instance, Shahzad (2008) reported recently that five adolescent girls in Pakistan were buried alive simply because they claimed the right of choosing their husbands.
The migration of people alters the predetermined set of opportunities offered by the birthplace. People from poor locations tend to migrate to developed countries. According to Garcia-Canclini (1989), when people migrate, the relationship between the original culture and geography is lost, a phenomenon he called deterritorialization. Lull (1995) explained that "deterritorialization is the (partial) disintegration of human and symbolic constellation and partners. It is the tearing apart of cultural structures, relationships, settings and representations" (p. 151). Although people usually migrate with the illusion of a better life, often, the policies toward migrants, as well as the attitudes of individuals in the host cultures, may impose additional burdens to those who, by choice or by fate, "unroot" (p. 105) themselves from their original land. As will be further explained, migrants will face cultural challenges in the adopted culture.
The importance of media
Although I am not going to address the role of media in this work, it is important to note that magazines, newspapers, radio, television, and the Internet play an important role in the promotion of violence toward women, since they often portray females in subordinate roles. Authors of field theory (developed during the 1960s in the United States) have explained that patriarchism is an approach that defines women in terms of the biological body (weak, child bearer, dependent). On the contrary, men are characterized as strong, powerful, and independent. The stereotype translates these attributes into the social imaginary (Zavala, 1992; Lacan, 1977; Taylor, 2004) as women are "defined and differentiated with reference to man, not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute—she is the Other (Beauvoir, 1989). This assigns women a subordinated role (passive, feminine, unenlightened, dependent, conciliatory, and nurturing mothers).
Such a poor conception of womanhood is transferred to the media. Lull (1995) stated that media predefined the agenda for how people ought to behave, which in turn acts as the "background expectations," or "tacit agreement," of what is correct and what is incorrect (p. 47). Similarly, Kellner (1995) explained that media produces texts (narratives) as culture industries; "the culture industries produce specific artifacts that reproduce the social discourses that are embedded in key conflicts and struggles of the day ... and help reproduce dominant forms of social power, serving the interest of societal domination" (pp. 4-5). Torres (2005) declared that media mirrors the social values and presents violence "as an agile and expeditious method to solve controversies" (p. 46). Because being violent does not have consequences, it "reinforces behaviors sustained by the social structure" (p. 47). Galtung (2007) integrated the connections between macro and micro situations of violence in the following model:
Galtung defined direct violence as "the confrontation of two particular individuals. Structural violence is generated by institutions while assigning hierarchies –based on class, race, disability, sexual preference, the position in a family and the unequal distribution of power" (p. 50). Cultural violence refers to "symbols, values and beliefs rooted in the social imagination and in the mindsets, which extend a variety of inevitability to the unequal relations prevailing in society" (p. 51).
The previous section included an overview of the origins of causes of violence in today's society. From this review, I concluded that violence toward women is a systemic practice being promoted by individuals, as well as those in institutions, the culture, and the media. The social system, as well as the particular individual, benefits while reproducing and maintaining unbalanced relations of power between males and females. Those benefits include free labor at home and in the informal economy, savings from the payment of unfair salaries, monopolizing land and assets in the hands of males, and silencing women's voices by preventing their access to education, political positions, leadership positions, and property. Based on the facts and studies presented above, I could conclude that violence toward women constitutes one of the main pillars sustaining the present order of things in the social system.
Statement of the Problem: Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a phenomenon that occurs around the globe. Torres (2005) did a meta-analysis on the research available in the five continents. She found that in the United States, research on physical violence in the decade 1975-1985 showed "a fluctuation between 28% and 31%" (p. 51). Using data from Helton, McFarlane, and Anderson (1987), she added that 8% of women were battered while being pregnant. In Toronto, Canada, the proportions were similar. Twenty-seven percent of women reported that they had been battered (Haskell & Randall, 1993). In Mexico (Shrader & Valdez, n.d.), this proportion rose to 33%, yet only 75% of the situations referred to "violence inflicted by the intimate partner" (Torres, 2005, p. 189). In Europe, the proportion of intimate partner violence was similar. In a study in Scotland, one third of the women declared that their husbands had been aggressive with them (Dobash & Dobash, 1979). In the Punjab region of India, researchers interviewed males and females of lower castes. The declarations of both groups were astonishingly high: 75% of males battered their wives (Sood, 1990). In New Wales, Australia, 42% of homicides were solved during the period of the study. From this portion of the study, Torres found that "in half of the occasions the husband was the assassin" (Torres, 2005, p. 205).
These former reports show that the issue of intimate partner violence toward females is pervasive. Mandela (2002) asserted that the "violence against women is a complex phenomenon, shaped by forces operating at the individual relationship, community and societal levels" (p. 2). The World Health Organization (2007) pointed out that in the last few decades, the United States and the world have came to accept intimate partner violence as a major scourge, one that contributes both to the victims' misery, as well as to nations' economic hardship and underdevelopment.
As explained in the previous section, culture and location are important in understanding the nuances of a social phenomenon that deserves the attention of researchers who are interested in social change. The high incidence of intimate partner violence as a widely accepted reality needs attention among Latinos, who have become an important segment of the population in the United States U.S. Census Bureau, 1990). The U.S. Census Bureau (2005) reported that this segment constitutes 14% of the population, and it represents the largest minority in the country. I am concerned for the well-being of all women who are in situation of intimate partner violence regardless their ethnic backgrounds. However, in the case of immigrant women they are faced with additional challenges when compared with their English-speaking counterparts. For example, when faced with threats to self and/or their children and/or any sort of abuse from their former or present intimate partners or spouses the Mexican immigrant and Mexican American survivors are faced with a) all uncertainties about their lives; b) they experience fear about the immigration – they often act on the belief that if they report the abuse to authorities they are going to jailed and deported; c) they lack knowledge about the current laws that protect victims of intimate partner violence; d) they struggle with issues related to language and culture; e) they are often the target of racial discrimination at the working environment, neighborhood, and public educational settings. Thus, my concerns for the situation of women led me to focus on exploring the extent to which intimate partner violence affects Mexican immigrant and Mexican American females. In particular, I explored whether the first and second generations of immigrants differ in their help-seeking behavior. I also wanted to observe how culture impacts the levels of violence, the search for help, and the perceptions of these two groups from diverse social service providers. In addition, I wanted to discover if a relation existed between the severity of intimate partner violence and acculturation of the women.
Some evidence exists to support the idea that a first and second generation of immigrants in the United States who are immersed in problems of intimate partner violence may find themselves in a difficult situation, since they have tremendously negative experiences while living in two cultures, one of them very different from their own (Jordan, 2004; Plichta, 2007). Grossman and Lundy (2003) identified several factors influencing the incidence of partner violence within today's society. These authors asserted that "poverty, immigration status, and ethnic values as well as personal history of violence are critical contributors to violence that need further study" (p. 1032). Researchers have suggested that Mexican immigrant and Mexican American female victims of intimate partner violence experience more difficulty in accessing reliable support networks. Additionally, social service providers have more difficulty in helping the victims (Grossman & Lundy, 2003; Jordan, 2004; Plichta, 2007). Issues related to language, education, and cultural background affect the quality of communication between clients and providers. Allen, Bybee, and Sullivan (2004) have observed the challenges that providers face while designing and implementing "comprehensive and individualized approaches to advocacy for battered women" (p. 1015). Ahsan's (2004) work appears to partially respond to Allen et al.'s recommendation for having holistic approaches to address the problems of immigrant women experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV). Ahsan investigated this phenomenon and found that "low-income immigrant victims" (p. 1) are even at higher risk of re-victimization because they often lack the resources such as knowledge of available social service agencies.
From the providers' standpoint, the victims' barriers are also a challenge to designing and implementing an "open door for program participants to disclose about domestic violence and to seek assistance" (p. 3). Cole (2001) explored issues of providers' effectiveness, and he found that in the victims' cultural background, poverty and the providers' expectations had an impact on the quality of the attention provided to them.
Griffith and Villavicencio (1985) analyzed variables related to acculturation, socio-demographics, and the extended family's influence. They considered these variables to be hindrances to a more comprehensive approach for both decreasing the incidence and success in the treatment of victims of IPV. West, Kantor, and Jasinski (1998) examined the role of the social service providers with Mexican immigrant and Mexican American abused women and found that the major barrier affecting both the victims and providers (priests, social workers) was the victims' degree of acculturation into the American society. The authors reported a positive relationship between the victims' degree of acculturation and help-seeking behavior; that is, the more acculturated the Mexican Americans were, the more they sought services, when compared with the Mexican immigrant victims of IPV.
Excerpted from Are Mexican Immigrant and Mexican American Female Victims of Intimate Partner Violence Being Served in Memphis, Tennessee? by M. Helena Vanderlei Collins Copyright © 2011 by M. Helena Vanderlei Collins. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE: Violence Against Women....................1
CHAPTER TWO: Review Of The Literature....................18
CHAPTER THREE: Methodology....................46
CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS....................59
CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION....................131
APPENDIX A Permission to Publish the Graphic, A Decade of Non-Fatal Incidents....................194
APPENDIX B Demographic Questionnaire – English version....................196
APPENDIX C Semi-Structured Interview – English Version:....................199
APPENDIX D Permission to Use the Inventory of Abusive Behavior (ABI)....................207
APPENDIX E Flyer (English)....................209
APPENDIX F Flyer (Spanish)....................211
APPENDIX G Informed Consent Form....................213