Case Study Brief: Recognizing and Responding to Intimate Partner Violence among Spanish-Speaking Hispanic Participants of Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Programs

Publication Date: September 10, 2021
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  • Pages: 9
  • Published: 2021

Introduction

Research Questions

  1. What challenges exist for disclosure of IPV among Spanish-speaking Hispanic HMRE participants?
  2. What can programs do to encourage disclosure of IPV among Spanish-speaking Hispanic HMRE participants?
  3. How can programs effectively partner with local resources to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking HMRE participants?
  4. How can programs help Spanish-speaking Hispanic HMRE participants access IPV services?
  5. What approaches can programs take to ensure culturally responsive service delivery?

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most common form of interpersonal violence in the United States. Healthy marriage and relationship education (HMRE) programs can play an important role in preventing and responding to IPV. However, approaches to identifying and addressing IPV among Spanish-speaking Hispanic HMRE program participants have not been extensively studied.

To address this critical gap, RTI International and Esperanza United (formerly the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities) undertook a small case study to gather initial information on approaches to IPV education, screening, and referrals among HMRE programs serving Spanish-speaking Hispanic participants.

Primary aims were to: (1) understand current approaches taken by the grantees to recognize IPV among Spanish-speaking Hispanic HMRE program participants, (2) describe partnerships between grantees and local domestic violence programs, and (3) identify key resources, assets, and challenges to implementing culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies in IPV identification and response.

Purpose

This brief summarizes key takeaways from a case study conducted as part of the Responding to Intimate Violence in Relationship Programs (RIViR) project. The case study was conducted in partnership with two HMRE grantees: University of Denver’s Motherwise program (Denver, CO) and Family Services of Merrimack Valley (Lawrence, MA). The goal of the case study was to gather initial information on approaches to intimate partner violence (IPV) education, screening, and referrals among HMRE programs serving Spanish-speaking Hispanic participants. A full description of the case study was included in Appendix C of the RIViR final report. The goal of this brief is to disseminate the findings from the case study to a practitioner audience. Tips shared in this brief may be useful to HMRE programs serving Spanish-speaking Hispanic populations. However, because this case study included only two HMRE sites, results may not be representative of all programs and participants, and conclusions may not be transferable to other settings. 

Key Findings and Highlights

  • HMRE and domestic violence program staff and HMRE program participants suggested that participants are less likely to disclose if they: (1) do not wish to end the relationship or do not feel that they can, (2) fear potential consequences for their children, (3) fear the impact of police involvement on their immigration status, (4) worry about obtaining employment, (5) feel IPV is inappropriate to bring up in a family-focused setting, and (6) experience cultural barriers.
  • HMRE and domestic violence program staff and HMRE program participants offered tips for promoting disclosure of IPV, including: (1) build rapport first, (2) consider timing, (3) screen towards the middle of the program or after a class on IPV, (4) create opportunities for disclosure in private, and (5) use an informal and conversational approach.
  • Based on their experiences, HMRE grantees offered the following suggestions for ensuring effective partnerships with local domestic violence programs: (1) identify local domestic violence partners or other organizations that can offer culturally sensitive training to support HMRE staff in recognizing and responding to Spanish-speaking Hispanic survivors, (2) invest time to understand one another’s work and develop a sense of aligned missions, (3) have clear goals for partnerships and explicit agreements with one another, and (4) allow for multiple forms of communication between HMRE programs and local domestic violence programs.
  • Based on their experiences, HMRE and domestic violence program staff and HMRE program participants offered the following recommendations for encouraging participants to access IPV services: (1) ensure that staff are prepared, (2) conduct a warm handoff, (3) facilitate ease of access, (4) provide specific referrals, (5) address needs for transportation and childcare, and (6) establish participant familiarity with the physical spaces to which they might be preferred.
  • Based on their experiences, HMRE and domestic violence program staff and HMRE program participants offered the following recommendations for providing culturally responsive service delivery: (1) create a culturally welcoming physical environment, (2) tailor outreach activities and materials, (3) tailor assessments and safety planning, (4) tailor services provided, (5) ensure that staff have appropriate training and linguistic and cultural competency, and (6) provide linguistic and cultural adaptations.

Methods

This case study collected information through: (1) interviews with staff from HMRE programs and local domestic violence program partners and (2) focus groups with HMRE program participants. Full details on the methods and results of this case study are available in Appendix C of the RIViR final report.