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84 Currently, Latinos and Latinas comprise 16% of the total us population; their numbers grew by over 15 million between 2000 and 2010 to 50.5 million (Ennis, Rios-Vargas, & Albert, 2011). Demographic projections indicate that by 2030, one in four us residents will be of Hispanic descent (National Research Council , 2006). Because of “both employer demand for cheap, hardworking laborers and failed immigration policy” (National Research Council, 2006, p. 27), the number of migrants from Mexico and Latin America who are in the United States without documentation now surpasses 11 million. The stories of the Latina women interviewed for this study are framed by their experiences both as immigrants to this country and as undocumented residents in the United States. The most recent national estimate of violence against women in the United States is the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (nisvs) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to nisvs, over one-third (37.1%) of Hispanic women have been assaulted in their lifetime by a current or former intimate partner, a higher rate than reported by white non-Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander women, but lower than other racial and ethnic groups (Black et al., 2011). Other studies with state- or citybased samples in the United States suggest that Hispanic women have an increasedriskfordomesticviolencewhencomparedtonon -Hispanicwhitewomen (Vest, Catlin, Chen, & Brownson, 2002), and that among low-income women from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, Mexican women report the highest rates of violence (Frias & Angel, 2005). Unfortunately, although Frias and Angel (2005) asked where respondents were born, none of these reports ascertains how many women were undocumented, as were the women who participated in our study. Few quantitative studies regarding domestic violence in immigrant communities have been conducted in the United States (Raj & Silverman, 2002; with Luz Lopez and Gita Mehrotra 3 The Unique Situation of Latinas Responding to Hague Petitions Latinas Responding to Hague Petitions | 85 Sokoloff, 2008). Many authors have noted that it is even more difficult to assess the prevalence of domestic violence within the undocumented population because asking immigrants about their legal status can be a barrier to survey participation . In addition, immigrants are underrepresented in national surveys due to language barriers (Bhuyan, Shim, & Velagapudi, 2010); their decreased likelihood to report domestic violence to law enforcement (Wood, 2004; Sokoloff, 2008); and the high level of poverty experienced by immigrant Latinas, which can result in their being missed by prevalence surveys that rely on having a telephone (Haas, Dutton, & Orloff, 2000). Menjivar and Salcido (2002) assert that the incidence of domestic violence is not higher in immigrant communities , but rather that immigrant battered women’s experiences are exacerbated by the distinctive constellation of issues (that is, communication barriers, discrimination in employment, and deportation concerns) they experience as immigrant survivors. Understanding the legal immigration status of Latina women is important, because several studies suggest that being undocumented is a barrier to seeking help for domestic violence (see Rizo & Macy, 2011, for a review). Practitioners and researchers alike have identified several challenges facing Latina battered women, in particular, as they seek safety. These include language barriers; cultural or religious values regarding the importance of family and traditional gender roles; educational and income disparities that may affect actual or perceived access to resources; and lack of access to legal remedies (Pendleton, 2003; Klevens, 2007; Raj & Silverman, 2002). Immigrant battered women in the United States also often fear that they, their children, and/or their abusive partner could be deported, particularly if the abuse is reported (Klevens, 2007). As a result of these barriers, battered Latina women have been found to be less likely than other survivors of abuse to seek help for domestic violence (West, Kantor, & Jasinski, 1998; Bauer, Rodriguez, Quiroga, & Flores-Ortiz, 2000). However, like other victims of domestic violence, Latina survivors indicate that one of the main reasons they seek help is the severity of the violence and the threats they perceive to the well-being of their children (Acevedo, 2000; Rizo & Macy, 2011). Some researchers have also found that immigrant Latinas feel safer in the United States than in their home countries because of the presence of domestic violence laws in the States (Menjivar & Salcido, 2002). For example, a recent international review of laws to prevent violence against women noted that “the protection of the family and not of the woman is the priority in most of the laws of Latin America” (Vives-Cases, Ortiz-Barreda & Gil-Gonzalez, 2010), whereas us laws when implemented...


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