This state of knowledge paper examines a broad range of national and international research to present the current knowledge about family violence against immigrant and refugee women.
While the paper identifies critical evidence on the topic, it acknowledges that much of the available literature has methodological issues, including incomplete and inconclusive prevalence data; small sample sizes; and conceptualising family violence in ways that are not recognised by immigrant and refugee communities.
The paper finds:
- Overall immigrant and refugee report similar forms of family violence as women from non-immigrant backgrounds, however there are some differences in the types of violence experienced and the structural contexts where it takes place.
- The constraints produced by immigration policies are of significant concern, where women depend on perpetrators for economic security and residency rights.
- Many immigrant and refugee women are motivated to resolve family violence without ending relationships and breaking up families, for reasons including immigration concerns and family and community pressures.
- There is scant evidence that the increase in criminal justice responses to family violence, such as “mandatory arrest” and “pro-prosecution” approaches, are helpful for immigrant women, and may deter them from seeking assistance in crisis situations.
The paper also identifies key gaps in literature on this issue, particularly in connection to the ways immigration policies, structural disadvantage and location interact with immigrant and refugee women’s experiences of family violence.
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