Latina Battered Women
Barriers to Service Delivery and
GLORIA BONILLA SANTIAGO
This chapter provides an overview of the recent cultural barriers and social service and legal needs of Latina battered women. It also includes an analysis of the socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic factors that contribute to domestic violence. Latina women have parents, grandparents, or great grandparents from Latin America—Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, or Central or South America. The Latino population in the United States experienced a 60% growth rate during the 1990s, positioning it at virtual parity with the African-American population (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2001).
The 2000 U.S. Census shows that while Latino subgroups vary considerably in their levels of poverty and education, the gap between Latinos and the general U.S. population is significant. Latino men continue to have the highest labor force participation rates of any group in the country, and Latina women have once again increased their workforce presence as well. In spite of this high level of labor participation, Latinos are still three times likelier than whites to be poor. Latino children, in particular, are significantly affected by poverty. Latino single-mother families are still more likely to be poor than comparable black and white families (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2001).
In light of the growth of the Latino population in the United States and the substantial economic, social, and cultural diversity among Latino ethnic groups, a serious discussion about domestic violence is timely. As the prevalence of family violence has been recognized, and shelter services, police pro