Mental and Emotional Wounds
of Domestic Violence in
South Asian Women
Despite the growing literature on domestic violence in the South Asian immigrant community, research has not yet focused on the psychological outcomes of family violence on women of South Asian origin in the United States. Mainstream literature indicates that the psychological corollaries of being a survivor of domestic violence are extremely severe and long lasting, and cites depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide as the most significant of these outcomes (e.g., Jones, Hughes and Unterstaller 2001). Given the lack of research in this area, however, it remains a theoretical and empirical question whether such diagnoses and attempts at traditional forms of assessment will prove to be meaningful to the South Asian immigrant population. This, in turn, has implications for the provision of a range of support services to this group.
Using in depth interviews with two South Asian survivors of domestic violence, this chapter addresses the challenges that may be involved in gaining information on personal psychological outcomes with this population. The interviews indicate that South Asian women are more likely to mobilize more familiar forms of discourses such as cultural and pragmatic, rather than that of mental and emotional health and suffering to discuss their abuse experiences. The essay also presents information from South Asian mental health practitioners to suggest that the power of such cultural and pragmatic mobilizations reflect their acceptability and use in the larger South Asian community as opposed to the aura of silence, stigma, and lack of prioritization that exists around both domestic violence and mental health issues. These popular discourses make the processes of gaining information and treatment more challenging. I conclude by arguing that greater efforts must be made by practitioners and members of the community to prioritize mental health issues among survivors of domestic violence.
Despite the growing literature on intimate abuse in the South Asian community, little work has been done to examine the psychological outcomes of domestic violence