Intervention with Latina Women & Children Exposed to Violence

Twenty four percent of American women experience severe intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime, including being beaten, burned, or choked (CDC, 2010). Immigrant Latina women are generally considered to be at highest risk of all ethnic or racial groups, with 50% experiencing lifetime IPV. More than 15 million American children are exposed to such violence in their home each year and about 40% also experience child abuse. Around the world, lifetime occurrence of IPV ranges from 5% (Japan) to 71% (Ethiopia). In the U.S., the annual cost to women and society is estimated at more than 8 billion dollars in lost wages, medical and mental health care (CDC, 2003). Women who experience IPV are at-risk for developing physical injuries, heath problems, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Many abused women face serious economic challenges, are isolated from sources of support, struggle to raise children who are also impacted by IPV, and may need assistance with legal protection and referral to other services. Children exposed to IPV are more likely to exhibit adjustment problems including anxiety, aggression, traumatic stress, as well as deficits in school performance and lower IQ. Clearly this is a global public health issue of enormous proportions with great human cost.

This project is designed to reduce the violence, heal women and children from the deleterious effects, and enhance their coping and skills so that IPV is not replicated in subsequent relationships and generations. While the need is great there is little in the way of evidence-based intervention to assist women and children exposed to family violence, particularly those from non-English speaking populations. Using a randomized control design, this project will evaluate an adapted Spanish language version of a successful program in which both the child and the mother receive intervention. In order to sample a range of Latina women exposed to IPV and their school-age child, the study will take place in Brownsville, Texas and Washtenaw County, Michigan. If successful, program materials can become available for use in other community settings. Given the higher rates of IPV for Latina women and the lack of evidence for services provided to them, the proposed study stands to make a significant and original contribution to the research field and to clinical practice with these families.

Project Team:

Sandra Graham-Bermann, College of LSA
Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, School of Social Work