How Domestic Violence Impacts Immigrant Victims

  • Grace HuangEmail author
Living reference work entry


Immigrant victims, like all intimate partner violence victims, experience physical violence, emotional abuse, coercion, threats and intimidation, isolation, economic abuse, and sexual abuse. (A critical element of safety planning with intimate partner violence victims, in addition to addressing the abuse, is working with them to address other life and community-generated risks, which abusers frequently exploit to further perpetrate abuse). For immigrant victims of intimate partner violence, abusers may exploit their lack of English proficiency, isolation from their family and other helping systems, lack of understanding or familiarity with the American legal system, and religious and cultural customs to further threaten, isolate, and abuse them. In addition, abusers often use the victim’s lack of secure immigration status as a tool of coercion and control, by threatening detention and deportation alongside separation from children or other family members.

When immigrant victims do seek help, helping “systems” may lack the capacity to address the unique barriers facing immigrants. Some may have not implemented practices and policies to facilitate limited-English proficient victims in communicating their needs; others may be unfamiliar with the unique legal issues facing immigrant victims, and some systems impose restrictions on eligibility for services based on immigration status. At the same time, immigrant victims of intimate partner violence and their advocates have worked to implement policies and practices to support victim safety.

This chapter provides an overview of abuser risks, community-generated, and system- generated risks impacting immigrant victims of intimate partner violence and summarizes resources intended to mitigate those risks.


Isolation Culture (cultural) Abuser-generated risk Community-generated risk System-generated risk Limited-English proficiency Immigration Deportation Violence Against Women Act 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based ViolenceSeattleUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Glenna Tinney
    • 1
  • Shelly M. Wagers
    • 2
  • Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling
    • 3
  1. 1.ConsultantAlexandriaUSA
  2. 2.College of Arts and Sciences - Society, Culture, and LanguageUniversity of South Florida - St. PetersburgSt. PetersburgUSA
  3. 3.University of North Carolina- CharlotteCharlotteUSA

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