Escaping Domestic Violence
According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, an estimated 33 million adults have personally experienced domestic violence. In addition, six in 10 people said they knew someone who had experienced domestic violence, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. While these statistics are already staggering, there are many who are undoubtedly keeping their experience with domestic abuse a secret.
Domestic violence is equally prevalent in the Hispanic community, and the reasons for victims to remain quiet are no mystery. The first and most common concern involves fear of repercussions from the financial provider of the family. In most cases, a family’s financial provider is the abuser. The Hispanic culture also embraces a strong sense of commitment to family. This commitment often supersedes the individual’s physical or emotional turmoil; the victim endures abuse for fear of the financial and familial implications.
This predicament is, in many cases, aggravated by the third most common concern: fear of jeopardizing immigration status. Seeking help could ultimately lead to criminal charges against the accuser. For this reason, victims are hesitant to make claims that they fear will affect their or their spouse’s ability to stay in the United States.
There are other consequences of unresolved domestic violence. Frequently, children in these households witness acts of violence. A study conducted in 2006 in the Journal of Family Psychology estimated that over 15 million children in the United States live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year, and 7 million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred. Most experts believe that children who are raised with repeated exposure to domestic violence view this behavior as an effective form of conflict resolution – serving to perpetuate a cycle of abuse.
Apart from the physical injuries that result from domestic violence, victims often face depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks, and other emotional distress. Unhealthy stress levels associated with domestic violence have been known to lead to health issues such as heart and gastrointestinal problems.
The concerns associated with speaking out about domestic violence are impossible to ignore; however the emotional and physical implications of prolonged abuse are critical. As a Hispanic attorney with years of experience, I understand the Hispanic community – the culture, the language, and the challenges we face. There are resources in Central New York that offer legal help, financial assistance, work training, and immigration assistance. If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, consult with a family law attorney who can help you determine the best solution for you and your family.
Lourdes Rosario is an attorney in Central New York. She is fluent in English and Spanish. Lourdes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org