Domestic Violence in Mexico: Perspectives of Mexican Counselors

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INTRODUCTION

In spite of many efforts and programs carried out by organizations, governments, researchers, and civilians, domestic violence continues to affect millions (1). According to the World Health Organization, between 10% and 52% of women living in different countries around the world have experienced physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner and between 10% and 30% of women have suffered sexual violence. In addition, the proportion of women physically assaulted by a partner at some point in their lives shows similar rates. The magnitude of this situation varies from 10% of women in Paraguay and in Philippines, 11% in Netherlands, and 13% in South Africa and Puerto Rico to 28% in Nicaragua, 34% in Egypt, and 47% of women in Bangladesh (Krug, Dahlberg, Mercy, Zwi, & Lozano, 2002). In Mexico, the prevalence of physical violence has been estimated at about 9% (Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres [INMUJERES], 2003).

Similar to the presence of domestic violence in other countries, domestic violence remains a serious problem in Mexico. In general terms, between 10% and 73% of Mexican women reported experiencing an episode of domestic violence in their lives (Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica [[NSP], 2003). According to National Institute of Women, 38.4% of Mexican women have experienced psychological violence and 7.8% of Mexican women have experienced sexual violence (JNMUJERES, 2003). On average, five men kill their intimate partner each day in Mexico (INSP, 2003). The most recent data provided by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography showed that 8.7 million women experienced at least one episode of domestic violence during the last year, 6.9 million women experienced psychological violence, 5 million women experienced economic violence, 2.2 million women experience physical violence, and 1.3 million women have experienced sexual abuse (Institut[degrees] Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia [INEGI], 2003).

Researchers and those working with families continue in efforts to better understand the antecedents of domestic violence as a means of identifying approaches to reduce its presence (2). Although there are a considerable number of studies exploring the phenomenon of domestic violence in Mexico (Acharya & Salas, 2005; Agoff, Rajsbaum, & Herrera, 2006; Olaiz, Rojas, Valdez, Franco, & Palma, 2006; Ortega, Mudgal, Flores, Rivera, Diaz, 8.r. Salmeron, 2007; Ramirez-Rodriguez, 2006; Rivera, Allen, Chavez, & Avila, 2006; Saucedo-Gonzalez, 1995), a review of the scientific literature showed a lack of research on practitioners' perception of domestic violence in the Mexican context. Few have addressed the context of intimate partner violence (Ramirez-Rodriguez, 2002; Salama, 2008). Research that does examine possible antecedents of violence, or contexts in which violence is most likely to occur, have addressed the question from the perspective of the victim. Understanding antecedents of domestic violence and environmental contexts in the counseling setting may support practitioners and their clients who are involved in violent relationships.

Given this current state of the research literature and given that victims of violence may not be accurate reporters of their experience due to the trauma and distress associated with the event (Herman, 1992; Mannar, Weiss, Metzler, & Delucchi, 1996), practitioners' reports provide important information. Of course, counselors may also be biased by their personal experiences or social class perspective (Morrow, 2005); nevertheless, we assert that they offer unique insights to the problem of domestic violence in Mexican culture. To help in further identifying antecedents and the context of domestic violence among Mexican women, the present study examines domestic violence and its antecedents from the perceptions of the counselor. Thus, this study contributes significantly to the knowledge of domestic violence in Mexico from an unexplored perspective. …