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Prevalence of domestic violence

National statistics about the experience of DV in the U.S. represent estimates that vary by different methods of data collection. Therefore, you will notice quite a bit of statistical variability. Nevertheless, we have presented some of the most recent prevalence information published on Latin@ populations. It is important to remember that these findings must be considered within the context of the limitations outlined previously and may be limited in their representations.

For example, Latin@s experience DV at similar rates to other ethnic groups; however, when one examines rates within sub-populations of Latin@s, interesting findings arise, such as those related to immigrant married vs. unmarried Latinas. These findings highlight the continued need to understand the extreme variability within the Latin@ community. 

  • Approximately 1 in 3 Latinas (Breiding,Chen & Black, 2014) have experienced intimate partner violence during her lifetime and 1 in 12 in the previous 12 months.(Breiding, Smith, Basile, Walters, Chen, & Merrick, 2014)


  • This rate is approximately the same as for women from other racial/ethnic groups.  In fact, a recent study found no significant difference across racial groups once socioeconomic status was taken into consideration.(Cho, 2012)


  • Reported rates of DV were lower for Mexican immigrants (13.4%) than for persons of Mexican descent born in the United States (16.7%) (Aldarondo, Kantor, & Jasinski, 2002).


  • These differences are consistent with other studies examining physical and mental health outcomes (Vega, Sribney, Aguilar-Gaxiola, & Kolody, 2004), school achievement (Brabeck, & Guzman, 2008), and substance abuse (Ojeda, Patterson, & Strathdee, 2008). This surprising strength of immigrant groups—despite the social and economic challenges they often face—has been labeled the immigrant paradox (Wright & Benson, 2010). Latin@s also show differences based on their country of origin and level of acculturation; a greater number of years in the U.S. predicts poorer health outcomes.  The apparent protective nature of being an immigrant is the subject of several current studies (Suárez-Orozco, & Suárez-Orozco, 2001; Vega, Sribney, Aguilar-Gaxiola, & Kolody, 2004).


  • A study that included 2,000 Latinas found that 63.1% of women who identified as being victimized in their lifetime (i.e., interpersonal victimization such as, stalking, physical assaults, weapon assaults, physical assaults in childhood, threats, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, etc.) reported having experienced more than one victimization, with an average of 2.56 victimizations (Cuevas, Sabina, & Picard, 2010).


  • In a sample of over 300 pregnant Latinas, DV during pregnancy was reported at 10% for physical abuse and 19% for emotional abuse (Martin & Garcia, 2011).


  • Research is beginning to document work-related DV among  Latin@s. One study reported abusive strategies, such as on-the-job surveillance or harassment and work disruption tactics. However, this study also found strategies that were unique in a Latin@ sample, such as denying access to driver’s license, lying about childcare arrangements, and sending the partner temporarily to their country of origin (Mankowski, Galvez, & Glass, 2011).

For all works cited and references, please visit the References page.