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Research Report on Domestic Violence of Chinese American Women
By: AVOICE （Against Violence to Overseas Chinese Women Program）
The United States, as a country composed of multiple races, has further highlighted its demographic changes and ethnic diversity in the 2020 U.S. Census statistics. According to the latest data, the number of people who identify as Asian in the United States is almost three times that of 30 years ago (Robert et al., 2021). According to the definition and classification of race and ethnicity by the U.S. Census Bureau, in addition to whites, the United States currently has Asians, African Americans, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indians. And the five major races and ethnicities of American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Other Pacific Islander. Among them, Asians are the largest minority ethnic group and the fastest-growing group, with a number of approximately 24 million (Neil G., et al., 2021). The population of more than 20 million Asians is complex. Their ancestors come from more than 20 countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent, including China, South Korea, Japan, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, etc. As the largest source of Asian origin groups, China accounts for 23% of the Asian population (US Department of Commerce, 2021).
As a common problem in the United States, domestic violence may occur in various ethnic groups and different cultural groups. In the United States, more than 10 million people suffer from domestic violence each year (Black et al., 2011), and according to the World Health Organization report, although there are few data, reports from China, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries show that since the outbreak of COVID-19, domestic violence cases have increased (Times, 2021). The 2010 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "American Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey" summary report shows that on average 24 people in the United States suffer from physical violence, rape, and malicious stalking in intimate relationships every minute. Among them, the probability of Asians suffering from these injuries from intimate partners is 19.6%, while that of blacks is 43.7%, and that of American Indian or Alaskan Native women is 46% (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). Within the group of Asian women living in the United States, as many as 55% of Asian women have suffered domestic violence (Brian Pacheco, 2018).
When we try to discuss domestic violence, we need to clarify how it is interpreted and defined in different contexts. There is currently no authoritative systematic definition of domestic violence. There are many similar terms used interchangeably to describe and discuss this concept. For example, domestic violence can also be called: abuse, assault, intimate partner violence, or family, Spouse, relationship, or dating violence. UNDP (United Nations Development Program) introduced the definition of domestic violence in 7 paragraphs. The most important definition of domestic violence is: domestic violence is violence that occurs in the private life field, which generally occurs when it is linked by love, blood, and law. Between individuals. In short, domestic violence is a violation of human rights (UNDP, 1996). In the judicial context of the United States, the United States Department of Justice established the Office on Violence against Women (Office on Violence against Women) and gave a judicial definition of domestic violence: The term "domestic violence" includes Of the current or former spouse or intimate partner, a person living with the victim, the person living with the victim or as a spouse or intimate partner, targeting adult or young victims in accordance with the domestic violence law or domestic violence law of the jurisdiction Office on violence against women (Office on violence against women, 1995). The local anti-domestic violence organization PCADV (Pennsylvania United Anti-Domestic Violence Organization) in Pennsylvania, USA believes that domestic violence is a coercive behavior model used by one person to gain power and control over another person in close or family relationships (PCADV, 2000). In summary, we can draw a broader definition of domestic violence: domestic violence is an infringement of rights in the private life of the victim in an intimate relationship.
Due to the ambiguity in the definition of domestic violence and the blind spots in the public's perception of domestic violence, people have insufficient awareness of the universality, severity, and harm of domestic violence, making domestic violence hidden in social problems and victims of domestic violence The plight of people who cannot get help cannot be effectively improved. Domestic violence not only has many causes but also manifests itself in various ways. It is also not restricted by age, gender, socioeconomic status, and race. Its adverse effects are also deeply ingrained. In a multi-ethnic country like the United States, domestic violence, as a widespread social problem, will present more complex and unavoidable realities. Among the available data, there is no direct data on the violence of Chinese women. When we tried to focus on Chinese or Asian women to discuss the issue of domestic violence, we found that most of the previous studies looked at Asian groups as homogenized groups. Although these ethnic groups share “Asian” identities, they have different histories, cultures, values, and languages. The core problem in this is that due to the complexity and diversity of different ethnic groups within the race, it is difficult for us to get a glimpse of the specific practical experience and special difficulties of Chinese women.
This article hopes to make a combing and summary analysis of the existing data through a comparative analysis of the domestic violence of Chinese women in the United States and other ethnicities. Through the description of the group portraits of the victims of Chinese women, we can understand the specific difficulties they face when facing domestic violence, and compare them with white women and other ethnic minority women, and propose possible solutions, in order to appeal to the families of Chinese women in the United States. Violence, a serious social problem, has received more attention.
Why does it happen? Group portrait of victimized women
As mentioned earlier, in the United States, Chinese immigrants account for the largest proportion of the Asian population, but the number of studies on the domestic violence of Chinese immigrant women is still limited. In reality, the low reporting rate of Asian communities is also an issue that cannot be ignored. Liu Yuanfen, director-general of the Lixin Maternal and Child Care Center in New York City, once stated that 270,000 calls in New York City in a year were due to domestic violence, and 5,000 of them were from Chinese families. However, due to the influence of the Chinese notion of “not making major incidents and not calling the police”, she believes that the actual number of domestic violence incidents is far more than 5,000 phone calls (World Journal, 2019). For example, many domestic violence cases are not revealed until the child has problems at school, and the school or neighbors call the police to intervene. Therefore, this part attempts to restore the group portraits of victims of Chinese women from fragmented and scattered research reports and literature and then discusses the practical dilemmas they face in a targeted manner.
Personal information: age, education and occupation, cultural adjustment, and immigration status
In terms of age, the average age of overseas Chinese women who have experienced domestic violence is 33 years old, and there is a significant correlation between age and domestic violence experience. Younger women are at a higher risk of domestic violence than older women (Yang Li, 2020). In terms of education level, such women have relatively high academic qualifications-90% of women have a bachelor's degree or above, and 70% of them have a master's degree or above. Studies have also confirmed that women with a master's degree are more likely to experience domestic violence (Yang Li, 2020). At the same time, their overall income level is low, with 40% of women earning $20,000 or less. In terms of occupations, the victimized females became full-time jobs four times and students in school three times, and the percentages of non-working, part-time, and retired women were very small.
From the perspective of cultural adaptation, Chinese women who have been domestically abused are facing a dilemma of fear and nowhere to tell. First, because in a foreign country, immigrant women are not fluent in English and do not understand the correct methods of legal aid in American society. The cultural differences between the home country and the host country and their relatively low adaptability in heterogeneous societies have become domestic violence. The trigger factor (Chunrye et al., 2020), what’s more, serious is that on this basis, many women hold the attitude of “one thing is worse than one thing less” and dare not ask the police for help. Second, the epidemic has become a contributing factor to domestic violence. The lockdown policy during the epidemic has made the couples who usually go out to work trapped at home, coupled with risk factors such as unemployment for both parties, thus increasing the chance of domestic violence. The victims of women and children have no workplaces and schools as temporary shelters, so it can be said that there is nowhere to escape, so the number of people seeking help has increased sharply, and the difficulty in seeking help has increased. The original rescue agency was unable to work normally due to the blockade policy, and the rescue capacity was reduced. As the epidemic improved, some women victims of domestic violence walked out of the streets to form alliances and mutual assistance relationships, calling for help to protect their rights. Many women's care organizations in the United States also stated that during the epidemic, they received more calls from Chinese women for domestic violence.
In addition, immigration status can also be an incentive for domestic violence. On the one hand, research shows that there is no correlation between immigration status and experiencing domestic violence, but the longer they stay in the United States and the older women when they arrive in the United States, the risk of experiencing domestic violence will increase again (Yang Li, 2020). On the other hand, from the perspective of immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence, changes in the balance of power between husband and wife caused by immigration will affect the risk of domestic violence. Due to cultural differences and other factors, men in immigrant couples tend to have a sense of power imbalance in marriage (Chan & Leong, 1994; Kim, 1996; Miller, 1992; Rhee, 1997). And as they lose decision-making power in close relationships, the more they think that they should not help victims of domestic violence and that men who perpetrate violence do not need to be held responsible and punished for beating their wives.
Marital status: partner/spouse status, the power structure within the family
The academic circles have given two possible reasons for male domestic violence against women. One is that gender culture acquiesces to men’s dominance over women, and in this process uses sexual violence to achieve this socialized privilege, and the other is that being a man feels When their power is infringed or deprived by women in the marriage, they will resort to violence to compensate for this sense of powerlessness.
More than 80% of male partners in marriages of women victims of domestic violence are Chinese Americans, with an average age of 35 (Yang Li, 2020). The distribution of academic qualifications of male partners is relatively even, with the proportions of undergraduates, masters, and doctoral degrees all-around 30%. In terms of employment situation, nearly 70% of men who perpetrated violence had full-time jobs, while the proportion of working students among female victims was 10% lower for men. From the perspective of income, the ladder distribution from 20,000 USD to 100,000 USD is relatively even (Yang Li, 2020), which generally presents the characteristics of a normal distribution. However, it should also be noted that this conclusion is relative, and some scholars in the academic field have measured the diametrically opposite conclusions of occupational social status and income level through empirical research. Hornung et al. (1981) measured the impact of education level and career achievement factors on domestic violence and found that when women have a higher status than men in these two aspects, the risk of domestic violence is higher.
From the perspective of the power structure within the family, power is concentrated in the amount of discourse power held by both spouses when coordinating various issues within the family. Power itself is a complex multi-dimensional structure, and it is difficult for us to measure the correlation between gender and family rights through a single standard. However, under normal circumstances, the level of economic income is an important factor that determines the family's right to speak. Couples who unilaterally dominate the absolute right to speak have a higher level of conflict and violence than egalitarian couples. What is more noteworthy is that women in a family dominated by women have the highest probability of being domestically abused. For example, a study by Hotaling et al. (1986) found that women who earn more work than their husbands are more likely to be beaten in relationships.
From the perspective of marriage patterns, the situation where husbands are older than wives is still common among Chinese Americans, and they are usually separated by a few years or even teenagers. Many new immigrant Chinese women will gradually expand the scope of communication and learn more about protecting women’s rights. They tend to be more independent in their thinking and reduce their attachment to the man during the marriage. Older men will become worried about the fact that the woman will leave them. , And vent this emotion through domestic violence (Ren Chengqi, 2007). Deng Hong, a Chinese American lawyer who is exposed to many cases of domestic violence in the United States, once stated that the probability of domestic violence in Chinese American families, especially new immigrant families, is quite high, and most of the victims are women, and domestic violence occurs. The family often decides to divorce the two parties because of troubles that attract the police to intervene.
Family situation: relatives and children, family influence
From the perspective of family support, before Chinese American women suffered domestic violence, their own social support levels were often low (Yang Li, 2020). Their family members usually live in mainland China. They are equivalent to leaving the original social network. After suffering from domestic violence in the United States, it is difficult to obtain timely emotional comfort and practical help. Anti-domestic violence workers of social organizations stated that they often receive complaints from victims of domestic violence from new immigrants. Some of them are isolated by the local community or restricted by their violent partners. They cannot go to work or contact the outside world. , Can’t even go out to buy groceries. If they are not obedient, the abusive partner will threaten not to provide the relevant information for the green card.
From the perspective of nuclear family children, studies have shown that there is no correlation between the number of children and whether Chinese women experience domestic violence. But at the same time, the growth of children accounts for a certain percentage of the factors that women consider whether their marriage will continue after suffering from domestic violence. Jessica Trish, a staff member of DC SAFE, an anti-domestic violence rights organization in Washington, said that when she communicated with Chinese women victims of domestic violence, the words she said most were "Do you want to apply for custody of your children?" (Refer to News Network, 2015). It can be seen that when Chinese women with children consider divorce caused by domestic violence, they are susceptible to child factors and cannot make independent decisions just to protect themselves from harm. This is in line with the traditional Chinese intergenerational culture. There are also close ties.
Why not ask for help? The self-help dilemma faced by Chinese women
As mentioned earlier, when we try to restore or portray the group portraits of Chinese women who have suffered domestic violence, the cultural background, and realistic dilemmas have also surfaced and become a part of understanding the status quo that cannot be ignored. Discussing domestic violence is no longer just a discussion of physical violence itself, but requires us to invest in broader social structural factors and some practical problems that need to be solved urgently. Therefore, on the basis of the previous article, this part further analyzes the self-help dilemma faced by Chinese women in the face of domestic violence or intimate relationship violence. Why not ask for help? What factors hinder them from seeking help is the question that this part tries to answer.
The influence of social and cultural background
When we discuss the domestic violence faced by women from a gender perspective, we actually ignore the victim’s cultural and ethnic identity as an important variable, which affects women’s self-awareness, family and marriage concepts, and the resolution of conflicts. Way. It is gratifying that more and more studies have focused on the relationship between culture and ethnicity itself and the victimized women, and focused the research on the Asian/Chinese communities, which has effectively helped us understand what we depend on for survival. How culture affects our specific experience in the face of domestic violence. Generally speaking, Asian communities have relatively few judicial reporting records (Homes, 2015). Compared with the data of actual victims, the reasons are worthy of our reflection and exploration.
The "family-based" concept in cultural traditions
Different from Western culture that advocates individualism, Chinese collectivist culture emphasizes the obedience of individuals to the collective in order to achieve a state of overall harmony (Yoshioka & Choi, 2005). This kind of cultural influence is deep and diverse. Under the "family-based" collectivist culture, women are required to obey their husbands and contribute to the family. Whether the marriage is happy and whether the family is harmonious has become a measure of a woman's important factor for success in life. Therefore, when facing domestic violence, Chinese women are more inclined to compromise and retreat in order to achieve family integrity and harmony.
Intimacy violence not only caused serious physical and psychological damage to the victim but also triggered a stigmatization mechanism against the victim. Overstreet and Quinn pointed out that IPV has formed three dimensions of cultural stigma, internalization of stigma, and expected stigma against women (2013). Among them, a cultural stigma is a form of structural stigma related to ideology, which makes the victim's experience unreasonable and makes the victim believe that it is their own cause that caused the situation of being abused. The specific cultural concept that this cultural stigma points to in Asian families is that abuse and domestic violence are private issues, and exposing domestic violence to the outside world is an infringement of family privacy, that is, "family scandals cannot be publicized." Women who have been abused often worry that it will bring stigma to the family. Being in an unhealthy marriage or intimacy means self-failure. Victims are often ashamed to speak out and worry about shame. For example, some interviewees think that letting others know that he (boyfriend) is like this will make them feel very Shame, fear of being looked down upon by others (Li et al., 2021).
Perceptions and perceptions of domestic violence: the maintenance of the unequal marriage system
In a 1997 study by Yick, it was found that although Chinese communities generally disapprove of domestic violence, half of the people believe that violence is acceptable under certain circumstances, such as having an extramarital relationship with a wife, losing control of emotions, or being affected by existing family roles. Subversion (such as a wife making financial decisions without her husband’s consent) (Yick, 1997). In a report on domestic violence in Asia in Massachusetts, the recognition of ethnic Chinese is also at a higher level than that of Cambodian, Korean, South Asian, and Vietnamese Asian communities. This concept is widespread among Asian groups, who believe that if women do not comply with the "regulated" role, men can "discipline" them through physical violence (Song, 1996; Tran, 1997). The starting point of domestic violence is not to treat the other party as an independent individual, and the core of this concept is to treat women as men’s possessions and "materialize" women as appendages.
In this context, domestic violence has become "a problem that is not a problem", and the subjectivity that women should have is also hidden in this collectivist culture. Studies have shown that in the overall situation of domestic violence, physical violence accounts for 47.4%, emotional violence 28.1%, sexual violence 21%, and economic violence 3.5% (Chunrye et al., 2020). Asian groups regarded as "model minorities" seem to deal with domestic violence very well, but this is not the fact. One of the hidden factors is that Chinese communities often do not consider violence at the psychological, verbal, and behavioral control levels as a component of domestic violence, and only compulsory sexual behavior is considered sexual abuse (Midlarsky et al., 2006).
Even if a woman recognizes that domestic violence is a problem, it is still difficult for her or her family members to admit that abuse exists (Lee, 2000). In a specific case mentioned by the researcher, after the victim divorced her ex-husband, she was still being followed and her personal freedom was controlled. Unless she went to work, she was not allowed to leave the home. When she told her family, they believed that the victim was not really abused and her marriage was the most important thing (Midlarsky et al., 2006).
When facing domestic violence, the most direct and effective self-intervention strategy may be to leave the victim. This concept of self-protection is rooted in the self-first value system of individualism in the West, and conflicts with China's "family-based" values (Midlarsky et al., 2006). Women of Chinese descent in the United States who are victims of violence will still be affected by the ideology of "maintaining family integrity." Some researchers believe that one of the biggest challenges in resolving domestic violence in Asia is how to fundamentally reconcile the differences between Western advocacy of independent individualism and Asian families’ ideals of harmonious families. Most Asian women still hope to find the way that can make their family return to harmony (Yoshioka & Dang, 2000), "leave" is not easy for them.
2. Realistic dilemmas faced by seeking help
The influence of cultural background on Chinese women’s handling of domestic violence seems to be invisible , and when they try to explore outside, the help they can get is still limited. According to a comprehensive analysis of relevant literature (Chunrye Kim and Margaret Schmuhl, 2020), the impact of heterogeneous culture pressure on the group’s vulnerability to domestic violence accounted for 17.1%, lack of social capital accounted for 11.4%, and social isolation accounted for 8.6% . It should be noted that the weakness of social capital and the language barriers, cultural sensitivity, and racial discrimination caused by the social identity of ethnic minorities have made it difficult for ethnic minorities to receive local social assistance and social insurance after domestic violence. --such as legal intervention, public education, community activities, mental health services, food subsidies, etc.; at the same time, the culture and policies of the mother countries of the violent minorities rarely provide them with practical solutions, and when some groups of them are harmed, they will voluntarily give up getting services due to various factors, which further aggravates their plight and makes it difficult to escape.
（1）. Informal help: limited social support
Studies have found that due to distrust of local authorities and fear of racial discrimination, victims of domestic violence from ethnic minorities are more inclined to use informal support such as family, friends, and community leaders instead of seeking help from formal services (Ragavan et al., 2020). However, it must be pointed out that because the victims have very limited social support and are financially dependent on their partners, informal help is often difficult to achieve. They are often ashamed of their domestic violence, unwilling to be scrutinized for it, and even fear that it will affect their partner's reputation. Scholars generally believe that the limited social support network is an important reason for preventing victims from seeking informal help (Ahmad et al., 2009; Bauer et al., 2000; Li et al., 2021). This is even more prominent for immigrant women. Victims often lose key emotional and instrumental support (Emotional and instrumental support) (Ahmad et al., 2009) after immigration, and are easily trapped in domestic violence. It is difficult to get out of trouble. Breaking away from the original growth environment means losing the original social relationship and family network. They often have no close friends who can provide emotional help or advice (Li et al., 2021) in a foreign country, which makes it more difficult for them to seek outside for help.(Bauer et al., 2000). More than one Asian immigrant women mentioned similar dilemmas during the interview. For example, they would say: "I don't know who can help me..." "...I don't have too many friends. As a housewife, I always stay at home.” (Bauer et al., 2000).
(2). Formal help: lack of information, awareness and effectiveness of rescue
In addition to the influence of cultural background will make the victims of women are ashamed of their own experiences, and their lack of understanding of available resources also puts them in a passive position in seeking formal help. They do not know whether there are shelters, social services and other resources available for abused women (Bauer et al., 2000). At the same time, Chinese immigrant women lack the awareness of seeking counseling services and social services (Satyen et al., 2019). For example, a number of Chinese social workers engaged in domestic violence assistance in the United States mentioned that the utilization of abused Chinese women in shelters is very low (Lee, 2000).
In addition, Asian women's attempts to find outlets often stop at healing emotional wounds through psychological counseling, and even such explorations are not effective. Due to the huge differences in social and cultural backgrounds, it is difficult for victims to obtain effective help from social welfare agencies or psychological counseling. In most studies, language barriers are repeatedly mentioned, which is one of the important limiting factors. On the one hand, it is difficult for victims to express their problems in a non-native language. The lack of English ability makes these women who travel abroad face many difficulties in life, and it is even more impractical for them to overcome language barriers to seek psychological counseling or social services. On the other hand, professionals who provide help, such as psychological counselors and social workers, cannot understand and empathize with the plight of immigrant women. For example, the interviewees in the research believed that the differences in cultural concepts made it difficult for them (psychological counselors) to give really effective advice (Li et al., 2021).
(3). Fear of being deported
The pressures of cultural integration faced by Chinese women who have travelled across the oceans are often multiple, and having a stable legal status is an important factor that cannot be ignored. Victims of women who are not protected due to their immigration status (such as undocumented or non-permanent legal immigration status) are a more vulnerable group. They lack sources of income, have weak language skills, and know little about the local culture of the United States (Lee, 2000) ). In isolation, they usually do not leave the perpetrator because they are afraid of being deported (Dutton et al., 2000). Perpetrators also use this fear to control or abuse them. Studies have found that when victims do not have residency rights or citizenship, they are more likely to suffer more severe abuse (Kim & Sung, 2016).
Faced with complex immigration policies and laws, victims are often more powerless. Many states have mandatory arrest policies for domestic violence cases, and sometimes both male perpetrators and female victims are arrested at the same time. And if an immigrant victim woman who seeking police intervention is convicted through this procedure, she may also face the risk of deportation (Raj & Silverman, 2002), which is unbearable for them.
Contrast with other minorities: take Latino as an example
The current research on violence against women does not represent the voice of women of color. For example, many documents ignore the existence of race and ethnicity variables in the sample, use insufficient sample size and inappropriate measures, and Ignore the heterogeneity within the group. Therefore, when we pay attention to the situation of ethnic minority women who are victims of violence, we need more subtle insights to pay attention to the differences in experience and special circumstances between different groups. Previous studies have shown that race and ethnicity are different. For example, Native American women are most likely to report rape and physical assault. The structural crossover dynamics of nationality and citizenship of immigrant women are an aspect of identity politics and marginalization related to domestic violence. In more detail, family structure, cultural adaptation, immigration status, community response, and history of oppression affect the experience of women in minority communities.
Immigration status often affects and shapes how women understand domestic violence, their access to resources, and their response to domestic violence; in addition to language barriers and child-raising concerns, all people who suffer from domestic violence share the same concerns before seeking social assistance. There are also considerations specific to different races. At present, there are few studies on the comparative analysis of domestic violence, and the mainstream is the comparison of the situation of ethnic minorities and whites. There is still a gap in the comparative analysis of domestic violence among ethnic minorities. Therefore, this section focuses on the domestic violence research of ethnic minorities in the United States, and hopes to focus on the comparative analysis of the Latino and Chinese groups seeking social assistance after domestic violence, and to further understand the special dilemma faced by the Chinese women under immigration status as minorities who suffer domestic violence in the United States. .
This section refers to case studies of 14 Latino and 14 Asian women (Heidi et al., 2010), Latino close relationship violence analysis (John et al., 2016), the analysis of seeking for social assistance of Asian and Latino immigrants suffered from domestic violence (Baueret al., 2000), focusing on the differences between Latino and Chinese women’s concerns about seeking social assistance after experiencing domestic violence, and hope to help understand Chinese and Latino immigrants,how do socio-political and socio-cultural factors affect their seeking social assistance after domestic violence.
(1). Analysis of the similarities between Chinese and Latino immigrants
There are many similarities between Chinese and Latino immigrants. These reasons cause them to make decisions not to seek social assistance based on similar socio-political and socio-cultural factors after experiencing domestic violence. In addition to sharing their immigration status and belonging to ethnic minorities, their countries of origin have experienced long periods of colonization and anti-colonial movements, have similar cultural customs (such as paper-cutting), and have similarities in many cultural characteristics. In terms of socio-politics, both Chinese and Latino victims of violence are reluctant to seek help from outsiders due to language barriers, fear of being sent back to the country, lack of information about social assistance services, etc.; in terms of social culture, they all believe that family unity is greater than individual and the responsibility for raising children. These traditional cultural values also hinder them from seeking help to a large extent.
2. Analysis of the differences between Chinese and Latino immigrants
(1). Reports of domestic violence
Community surveys based on Mexican immigrants show that 11% to 13% of Mexican-American women are affected by partner abuse. A survey of Latino native English speakers showed that the rate of domestic violence for Latino women with a high degree of cultural adaptation is similar to the above-mentioned immigrants (10% to 17%). In addition, some studies have found that compared with immigrants, American-born Latinos women have a higher incidence of partner’s abuse , which suggests that culture may influence the incidence of partner abuse (Sorenson & Telles, 1991). However, so far, the community or clinics that sample a sufficient number of Chinese Americans have been insufficiently researched to estimate the incidence of partner abuse in these ethnic groups. This not only reflects the lack of attention paid to domestic violence among Chinese Americans in the current American research community, but also reflects insufficient attention and research on domestic violence among ethnic minorities.
(2). Social and political factors
First, the country of origin lacks law enforcement. Compared with China's anti-domestic violence law, criminal law, marriage law and other legal protections, some Latino participants come from countries where the police and other institutions do not deal with family disputes. These women were taught that intimate partner abuse is a private matter, and victims have no recourse. When they immigrate, many people expect that these issues will be handled similarly in the United States. This expectation makes it impossible for them to confide in healthcare providers and seek help, as one Latino participant explained: “I did hide something, or rather the problems that I encountered at home [intimate partner] Abuse]. Because of my country, my culture, ignoring intimacy issues, and I also know that I have no right to protest abuse."
Second, racial and ethnic prejudice. The Latino participants believed that they were subject to racial and ethnic prejudice in the provision of medical services, and this perception was not obvious among the Chinese. To some extent, these women feel disconnected, powerless, and treated unfairly in the medical service scene. In this case, they are reluctant to discuss their abuse in public. A Latino participant said: “Doctors won’t ask you if you have problems with family matters. No, they won’t ask you. And I think they should at least try to be human because they have a lot of discrimination in the process of serving, because you notice the difference in their service attitudes when they receive a white American. They become very kind instead of "No, go on, sit down." You know the difference between the two attitudes." Although there are very few studies investigating doctors’ views on racial discrimination,this may be a common phenomenon. When interacting with a medical provider, non-verbal communication (for example, tone of voice, lack of eye contact) will cause the patient to capture the medical provider's illocutionary meaning, which may be interpreted by the patient as discomfort or lack of trust. Regardless of the medical provider’s intentions, these experiences may have a negative impact on the willingness of abused women to seek social assistance.
Therefore, in terms of socio-political influence, Chinese and Latino minorities as American immigrants face socio-political obstacles related to social assistance services. Both Chinese and Latino described their social isolation, language barriers, fear of being sent home, and their confusion about not being able to obtain information about social assistance services. But the reason unique to some Latino participants is that they are discriminated against by social assistance agency service providers based on their race. Coupled with the lack of enforcement of domestic violence in some Latino immigrants’ countries of origin, social assistance after experiencing domestic violence is more difficult.
(3). Socio-cultural reasons
First, the sanctity of the marriage bond. Compared to the Chinese, the Latino participants believed that the sacredness of the marriage bond and their love and loyalty to their husbands made them more willing to tolerate abuse. Some Latinos believe that they have no right to complain, protest, or refuse to seek help because of the self-sacrificing nature of their marriage. One Latino participant noticed, “We love love so much. For the sake of love, we have the ability to hide the facts for our husband. In order to be able to stay with her husband, we do not report him.” Another Latino explained: “ I don’t know either. In my country, there is only sexual violence, but violence between husband and wife does not exist because we are taught that this is the cross we must bear for our husbands."
Second, religious beliefs. Religious belief is also a more unique factor in the decision-making process that affects whether Latinos seek help from domestic violence compared to Chinese. A 47-year-old Mexican mother who has been with her partner for 19 years, married for 11 years, and gave birth to 4 children said: “Yes, I will pray that God will find a solution to my problem: Why does this happen? It’s not right for a woman to walk from one partner to another. That’s not being with God."
Third, shame. Compared with Latino violent immigrants, many Chinese women are more worried that by disclosing their abuse to health care providers, they will bring shame to themselves, their families, and their communities. In addition, although they think that the husband’s domestic violence is a shameful behavior, they also think it reflects their poor performance as wives. And the Chinese participants believe that external intervention may eventually lead to the end of their marriage, and the stigma of divorce and single parents will make life more difficult. A participant of Chinese descent said: “I don’t want to tell anyone what happened. I feel ashamed to tell others what happened at home. Another explained, “Many Asians have this idea: even if they endure violence, they still want to make the family to be oneness and not divided, they think that people will look at divorced people in a different way. After my divorce, a friend told me something similar. She told me that she didn't like her daughter to play with the children of single parents. "
In terms of social and cultural influences, because both Chinese and Latinos pay special attention to the family, concerns about single parents taking care of their children and the surrounding environment's perception of seeking social assistance will also hinder them from seeking help. Family values such as the dedication and sacrifice of Latino women to marriage can hinder them from seeking help from outsiders; and the shame and stigma of Chinese women about divorce also increases their concerns about seeking social assistance.
In summary, immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence are not only marginalized because of their gender, race, and the way they suffered domestic violence, but they also face unique socio-cultural and political dilemmas.
The foregoing content and current research show that due to lack of social representation and objective language barriers, ethnic minorities obtain assistance resources from legitimate social channels, such as psychological or legal information and shelters ,which is more difficult than white women (Netto et al., 2001). At the same time, women who have experienced domestic violence are also more likely to induce other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. According to a report by the American Chinese-language media "World Journal", on November 6, 2019, the Juvenile Dependency Court in San Bernardino, California, USA, opened a trial. The Chinese woman in the case ,who came to the United States after marrying her husband in 2013 suffered frequent domestic violence shortly after marriage. Since 2014, she began to take drugs because of postpartum depression and other psychiatric symptoms. In the end, the court ruled that the woman went to a mental rehabilitation hospital for treatment, and her two children were sent to a government welfare agency.
Therefore, to resolve the dilemmas faced by ethnic minorities victims of domestic violence, more diverse social assistance organizations and a more fair and inclusive judicial system are needed.
1. Diversified social assistance organizations
Diversified social assistance organizations mean two aspects: on tone hand, communities need organizations that provide assistance services in small languages; on the other hand, victims need safe ways to obtain effective assistance services.
1. Diversification of languages
In the rescue scene with diversified languages, service providers and service users can communicate the most effective and complete information, which is of great significance for victims living in foreign language environments to protect their individual rights. The reason is that small language users are often forced to use simpler language to end or avoid conversations as soon as possible under expressing pressure in the case of English as a foreign language,which makes relief measures and psychological counseling services require a lot of details to be filled in reality. In addition, if service providers and users have large differences in growth experience and living habits, it may lead to a lack of sensitivity to cultural-related incentives, and fail to effectively identify problems and provide an effective solution.
In other words, due to the lack of effective communication, the existence of a single rescue channel for the mainstream public still does not allow the urgent dilemma faced by ethnic minority female victims to be understood.On the contrary, it will exacerbate the distance between the minority ethnic group and the social organization ,magnify the victim’s sense of distrust of social organizations and reduce the possibility of seeking legitimate assistance.Victims of ethnic minority domestic violence face special rights protection issues due to their different cultural backgrounds. This is also the essential reason why we should distinguish between ethnic minority victims and white victim groups.
Therefore, the community needs such ethnic and language-based anti-domestic violence social organizations to provide targeted assistance programs to gather victims scattered in the shadows, helping them build trust and sense of belonging to social organizations. The traditional form of assistance would be upgraded into a positive interactive process. All victims can use legitimate channels to speak up for their rights to the greatest extent in this new environment.
At present, California, New York and other ethnically diverse states and provinces have initially formed a network of minority-language social assistance organizations. The construction of websites, service hotlines, psychological consultations, and refuges has matched services in minority languages.However, for minority victims living in other states with relatively single ethnic groups, the number of targeted assistance agencies is still limited.Victims with limited financial capacity lack long-distance transportation. This limited number almost means that relief is impossible.Moreover, the existing targeted relief organizations in these states often lack the nature of public organizations, and the driving force behind them often only depends on the founder’s personal sense of justice.The lack of an effective operating mechanism in the organizational structure is mainly reflected in the fact that relief conditions change with the change of the founder’s personal ability. In the era of repeated epidemics, this change makes the number of relief agencies and shelters more scarce.
2. The effectiveness and safety of rescue services
A true social assistance organization should be able to allow victims to obtain effective assistance services through safe channels. However, in some cases, the reason why victims are unwilling to actively seek for help is personal information will be exposed in the process of receiving help possibly, which will cause a huge risk of personal injury to themselves and increase their self-help costs. For example, some abusers will strictly monitor the electronic devices used by the victims. If they find that they have browsed through the history of relief agencies, they will accuse the victims of wanting to escape or even call the police, as a reason to inflict greater harm on the victims. Therefore, when establishing a rescue website, an emergency exit should be set on each page so that the victim can jump to a safe and neutral page at any time when using the website, and clear the browser history at the same time .
The core of reducing the cost of relief lies in reducing the cost that victims themselves need to pay when seeking help. This means that the rescue system should start from the victim's standpoint, identifying the cost composition of each rescue stage, and providing social solutions in a targeted and complete manner. In addition to paying attention to the differences in the problems caused by the cultural differences of the victims, it also requires service providers to have a sensitive and careful observation of resource utilization. If the existence of a rescue system cannot effectively help the victims, then its designer should reflect on whether its structure really responds to the demands of the victims and whether it provides a safe access channel.
2. The U.S. should create a more inclusive legal environment.
1. The importance of legal remedies
Generally speaking, the legitimacy (or effectiveness) of the rescue method and the victim's own economic conditions are directly proportional to the degree of awareness of domestic violence. In the context of domestic violence, the most common means of assistance include three methods: calling the police, contacting social assistance organizations, and seeking legal help. Since not all police officers have a clear understanding of the illegality of domestic violence, when they directly intervene in an ongoing violence, they can often only provide temporary corrective measures. In a worse case, the intervention of the police will anger the perpetrators, prompting them to inflict more cruel injuries on the victims after the police leave. In addition, the law enforcer is not a professional domestic violence mediator, and cannot eradicate the daily threats posed by the abuser to the victim, nor can he compensate for the damage to the victim’s own rights and interests.
In contrast, social resources and legal resources can provide more adequate, professional and long-term relief programs, which are more legitimate in relief methods. Therefore, for victims of domestic violence, resorting to social and legal resources is often a more legitimate solution than calling the police. As for victims who lack economic and social resources, even if there is objectively a more legitimate rescue method, they still can only choose to call the police as a temporary solution when violent conflicts have occurred and their lives are seriously threatened. A single channel of social assistance will complicate the process of self-help for ethnic minority victims. Studies have shown that because white female victims of domestic violence generally have more economic and social resources, the proportion of them contacting the police to directly intervene in violence is relatively lower; while minority female victims have more appeals to the police for the above reasons ( Ackerman & Love, 2014). Therefore, after clarifying the causal relationship, we found that solving the real plight of minority domestic violence victims requires a diverse and inclusive social and judicial environment.
2. The reality of legal relief
While ethnic diversity has brought a richer social environment to the United States, it also means that, at the legislative and judicial level, American legislators and judicial officials need to balance the different interests and values represented by more races and cultures. Since entering the 21st century, the problem of racial discrimination in the traditional sense has gradually decreased. However, the problem of marginalization of minorities still exists in judicial practice (The Sentencing Project, 2008). For African Americans, the impact of historical injustice is staggering. According to the latest statistics from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 2021, although Africans only accounted for 13.4% of the total population, they accounted for: 22% of fatal police shootings, 47% of wrongful convictions, and 35 % Of people were sentenced to death. In state prisons, the rate of incarceration of African Americans is five times that of whites. Compared with prisoners of other races, African men face a disproportionately harsh experience of imprisonment. Racial differences are also obvious among African-American youths, as can be seen from the “school-prison” assembly line and the higher imprisonment rates of African-American youths (Inman, 2021).
At present, for the first generation of Asian immigrants, there are still relatively few reports of domestic violence. In a survey report involving 607 people in a survey sample, 25-38% said they knew Asian women who met at least one domestic violence victim standard (Yoshioka & Dang, 2000). Although operating at full capacity, mainstream domestic violence resolution agencies rarely have Asian women. For many Asian women, support services for domestic violence are unavailable for the above-mentioned reasons.
In terms of legislation, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), reauthorized by Congress in 2013, accommodates many marginalized groups that have been forgotten in the past, adding legislation for LGBTQ, Native Americans, and victims of human trafficking. By adding stalking and harassment to the list of crimes protected by the U visa, the legislation expands the protection of immigrant women. However, VAWA did not expand the number of U visas, nor did it increase the government’s interest in research on violence in immigrant communities. According to data from the Migration Policy Institute in 2014, the total number of immigrant women in the United States was 18.9 million, accounting for 12% of the total female population. As no national research has been conducted to investigate IPV in immigrant communities, the number of immigrant IPV victims is unknown (Modi et al., 2014). In other words, the research on anti-domestic violence of immigrant women among ethnic minorities has so far remained in the field of academic interest and can only attract local attention.
Resolving racial inequality in criminal justice systems is fully in line with the pursuit of public safety and a fair judicial system. Corresponding to the context of domestic violence, it means that the United States should provide more friendly judicial remedies for minorities and create real opportunities. Equality enables women from ethnic minorities to have the same conditions to seek legal help and obtain effective and friendly judicial relief and support when facing the same predicament as mainstream ethnic groups in American society.
Summary and outlook
Chinese women living in the United States, as a local minority group with a large population, have to face the common plight of women who suffer from domestic violence, but also face other different plights due to their own uniqueness. Although factors such as personal circumstances, marital status, family structure and other factors have affected Chinese women’s handling of domestic violence, when they seek assistance from the outside world, the help they can get is limited. The weakness of their own social capital, the language barriers and cultural sensitivity brought about by the social status of ethnic minorities, and the racial discrimination they have suffered, make it difficult for them to obtain local social assistance and social security support in the United States even after domestic violence occurs. , Such as legal intervention, public education, community activities, mental health services, food subsidies, etc. At the same time, complicated immigration policies and laws make it difficult for Chinese women to seek for help from domestic violence, and it is difficult to obtain fair and friendly judicial remedies. They may even face the risk of deportation and become a high-risk and marginalized group.
From the foregoing, it can be seen that compared with white women, it is more difficult for Chinese and other minorities to obtain aid resources from legitimate social channels. Therefore, in order to solve the various difficulties faced by Chinese and other ethnic minority domestic violence victims, the United States has established more diverse social assistance organizations, provided assistance services in small languages, opened up effective access to assistance services, and protected the personal safety of those seeking assistance.It is more necessary to create an equal and inclusive legal environment, and provide Chinese and other minorities with more adequate, professional and long-term domestic violence relief programs through social and legal resources. At the legislative and judicial level, fully consider the interests and values of ethnic minorities, so that ethnic minority women have the same fair opportunities and receive effective and friendly judicial relief and support.
Back to the present, the situation of overseas epidemics is still unclear, coupled with the resurgence of conservatism and the unquenched anti-China sentiment.To resolve the domestic violence plight of Chinese American women in the epidemic requires further positive responses and effective measures. At the same time, we also look forward to more studies that can make targeted attention and analysis based on the complex situations derived from the epidemic.
In addition, in the portrayal of the group portraits of Chinese American women who have suffered domestic violence, the academic research on this group is still insufficient, and it is difficult to form a more unified and comprehensive image understanding of their plight in the current era. Among them, it is more important to note that factors such as state government policies in different regions of the United States, local population composition, social security level, and the number of Asian communities will affect the possibility of Chinese women suffering from domestic violence, but these factors have been ignored in most studies,resulting in the lack of a more detailed discussion of the analysis of the domestic violence plight of Chinese women in the absence of a comprehensive picture and direct data and information.
This article attempts to conduct a comparative analysis of domestic violence among ethnic minorities in the current research status of the comparison between mainstream ethnic minorities and white domestic violence. It not only analyzes the similarities between Latino and Chinese women in terms of socio-political and socio-cultural factors, but also reflects on the unique social problems encountered by these two minorities in seeking social assistance in the face of domestic violence. Strive to contribute to the research on the domestic violence of ethnic minorities in the United States as a whole and individual ethnic groups, increase the attention of American social assistance service agencies and workers, researchers, and policy makers to the domestic violence of ethnic minorities, and strengthen in-depth research and response to ethnic minorities’ domestic violence.
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