Hispanic Heritage Month concluded on Oct. 15, and now Domestic Violence Awareness Month is coming to an end, but let’s not forget that stopping family violence is just as important as the people running for the 2016 presidential office. Elections come and go, but domestic violence hasn’t stopped.
Since the presidential race started, a lot of talk has been generated about immigrants, in reference to the Hispanic/Latino community. But what the presidential candidates haven’t addressed is the alarming reality for many Hispanic/Latinos in the United States as victims of domestic violence. It is important to know that domestic violence occurs across all communities regardless of age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or nationality.
About 10 years ago, my aunt came to live with us for a week because her husband had physically abused her in front of her son. As a U.S.-born citizen, I couldn’t understand at that time how her fear of calling the police was greater than the fear of her husband. She didn’t want to report him because she was an undocumented immigrant. As a whole, we need to understand we can’t “save” people like my aunt, we need to be willing to be supportive, help with resources and encourage them to build a safety plan.
The National Latinx Network states that immigrant Hispanic/Latina survivors reported a decrease in the likelihood of calling the police due to heightened immigration enforcement policies and increased fear of deportation. Immigration status is often used as a control mechanism by the perpetrator, so they wouldn’t leave the abusive relationship. Sadly, this election has also caused a anti-immigrant hate rhetoric against our Hispanic/Latino community, which is very dangerous for immigrants who are victims of domestic violence and who might not know they have rights. We need to make sure that all victims of domestic violence are aware of their options.
Regardless of where you stand in this election, I ask that together we take a stand to end the cycle of family violence. Make the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 apparent in your office, school, and keep it handy. You never know when someone may need it, use it and survive.
Graduate Student, USC Suzanne Dvorak-Peck School of Social Work.