Women Who Stay: Perspectives of Latina Survivors on Staying or Leaving
Thursday, September 14th, 2017
Many women, regardless of race or ethnicity, choose to continue to live with partners who have been (or continue to be) abusive. Traditional domestic violence intervention approaches have emphasized women leaving abusive relationships, but the applicability and acceptability of this
approach for women from culturally diverse backgrounds, including immigrant and Latina survivors of intimate partner violence, is not well understood. While few studies have focused specifically on Latina survivors’ experience of staying, research to date has identified a number of reasons why women may decide to remain with male partners who have used violence against them, including higher relative levels of violence, emotional attachment, and children. The purpose of this study was to examine the contexts of Latina women currently living with their partners, and to inform recommendations for researchers and practitioners working with Latina survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV).
Minor children were important to the women’s experience and decisions related to staying with their partners. They reported both positive & negative themes regarding children, including:
- Their children’s relationship with and perceptions of their fathers (negative for some, while positive for others). One woman described positive feelings of living with her child and partner together: “That brings me satisfaction — to see her, that she is happy and that she can go with her father to work or decide to go with me.” -Atlanta participant
- Concerns about behavioral problems of minor children.
- The negative impact the situation has had on a woman’s relationship with her children. In the context of decisions to stay or leave partners, women talked about the value of protecting children from witnessing violence and ending intergenerational cycles of violence.
- Click here to read more about how family plays a role in a woman’s decision to stay.
Intergenerational Transmission of Violence
Women described violence within their families and experiences with parents and siblings. Additionally, women described perceived obligations to stay with their partners despite their experiences of abuse. One woman expressed concern about retaliation from male members of her own family. For this woman, violence in her family extended beyond her partner.
Economic and Financial Considerations
Women in this study expressed concern related to providing for their children, and receiving financial support from male partners. One woman described her concerns for the well-being of her children: “But [leaving] was not that easy. For example, if I left him, pregnant and with a one-year-old child, where was I going to go?” -Minnesota participant
Working Toward Independence
Women spoke about wanting independence from their partners and discussed multiple challenges to meeting this goal, including limited ability to speak English, limited experience navigating transportation systems, and limited social support in close proximity.
Women reflected on building awareness of what constitutes violence and identifying whether or not they are being abused. Awareness was also tied to knowledge and use of resources.
Sense of Agency
Women in our study reflected on their ability to act or to change the state of their relationship.
Women reported that leaving their partners was extremely difficult, but noted that it was not impossible. Other women described their hope that the relationship would change.
Many of the women described the negative physical and mental health consequences that
staying in the relationship had on themselves and/or their children. In describing her daughter, one women commented: “She is very insecure all of the time. That is what we created in her. Lots and lots of fear.” -Atlanta participant
Click here to read the full report, published by the National Latin@ Network Research Team.