Asian-American victims of domestic violence rarely seek help from police or health care providers – “an alarming trend” among the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, says a Michigan State University researcher.
While cultural barriers can discourage victims from seeking help, there also is a lack of culturally sensitive services available to them, said Hyunkag Cho, assistant professor of social work.
That can be as simple as a local domestic violence hotline that cannot facilitate calls from Chinese- or Korean-speaking victims due to language barriers. And failing to get help the first time, Cho said, may prevent a victim from trying again.
“Authorities and health care providers need to be equipped with information and resources for adequately addressing the needs of victims of domestic violence among Asians and other racial minorities,” Cho said.
In a study published by the journal Violence Against Women, Cho found that Asian victims used mental health services only 5.3 percent of the time, while Latino victims used them 14.6 percent of the time.
Cho used survey data from about 350 victims culled from the National Latino and Asian-American Study.
In a second study, based on several national surveys and featured in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, he found that Asian victims of domestic violence were at least four times less likely to use mental health services than whites, blacks or Latinos.
In his native Korea, Cho said he had friends who refused to seek help for domestic violence. In many Asian cultures, seeking help can be seen as shameful to the victim and the victim’s family.
Cho believes authorities should focus on the development of affordable, culturally sensitive services for to Asia-Americans. He believes policymakers and other experts have placed too much emphasis on the effects of individual and cultural barriers.
“We need to look at the bigger picture,” Cho said. “We need more outreach efforts to increase access to domestic violence services.”