Calls to Police and Police Response: A Case Study of Latina Immigrant women in the USA [pdf]

This paper addresses the experiences of battered immigrant Latina women when contacting police for assistance in attempting to reduce, end, or flee violence. The research consists of interviews with 230 battered immigrant Latina women experiencing violence. The analysis examined the factors contributing to the extent, frequency, and readiness of the women to call the police. The police response to and the effect of seeking help by battered immigrant Latina women on arrest of the perpetrator were also explored. The results show that the number of times and the frequency of contacting the police among battered immigrant Latina women was far less than would be expected based on their experienced with intimate partner violence. The factors which led women to call the police were mostly related to the stability of their immigration status, their children’s exposure to violence, the women’s region of origin and the frequency of domestic violence. The police response to this group of women demonstrates a lack of cultural sensitivity, and produces concerns regarding language accessibility and low rates of arrest. The paper concludes with recommendations about the need to better incorporate immigration as an additional factor in understanding intimate partner violence and help-seeking from police.