Talking About Interpersonal Violence: Cultural Influences on Latinas' Identification and Disclosure of Sexual Assault and Intimate Partner Violence


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Abstract

Low rates of disclosure among Latina survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence may be related to cultural influences that stigmatize disclosure and make identifying instances of sexual assault and intimate partner violence difficult. In an effort to add to existing literature, the current study conducted a series of 10 focus groups with Spanish-speaking Latinas of varying educational, immigration, and generational statuses to identify the range of cultural influences that affect Latinas' ability to identify and disclose instances of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Results suggested that gender role ideologies, traditional beliefs about marriage, familism, taboos against talking about sex, respect for authority, lack of community resources, and fear of violence operate in different ways to obscure and justify acts of sexual assault and intimate partner violence and to maintain silence when such acts do occur. Yet, most participants also felt that other people, particularly Latinos living abroad and the older generation of Latinas living in the United States, held far more conservative and traditional beliefs than the participants themselves did, suggesting that important differences exist in both the acceptance of cultural beliefs and the mechanisms through which these beliefs affect Latinas' ability to identify and disclose instances of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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