Abstract: Latina Residents of Domestic Violence Shelters: Differences Between Survey Responses in English and Spanish (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

12717 Latina Residents of Domestic Violence Shelters: Differences Between Survey Responses in English and Spanish

Saturday, January 16, 2010: 3:00 PM
Pacific Concourse L (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Eleanor Lyon, PhD , University of Connecticut, Associate Professor in Residence, West Hartford, CT
Shannon R. Lane, PhD , Adelphi University, Assistant Professor, Garden City, NY

Estimates of the prevalence of domestic violence among Latinas suggests that one-quarter to one-half of all Latinas are exposed to some form of domestic violence in their lifetime at rates similar to or lower than non-Latinas (Ingram, 2007; Klevens, 2007). Risk factors include immigration status, language barriers, low levels of education and income, children in the home, cultural issues, and a lack of transportation, health insurance, and knowledge of services (Klevens, 2007). One study showed that 32% of Latina survivors needed language services (Grossman & Lundy, 2007), and Latina survivors report language and transportation as the most important barriers to receiving services (Murdaugh, Hunt, Sowell. & Santana, 2004). Latinas are less likely than non-Latinas to seek shelter services (Ingram, 2007). Domestic violence victim services programs themselves have identified these issues and are working to address them as they seek to design and provide culturally competent services (Bent-Goodley, 2005; Donnelly, Cook, Van Ausdale & Foley, 2005; Lipsky, Caetano, Field & Larkin, 2006). Yoshioka and Choi (2005) have argued that services need to be enhanced to recognize the full range of survivors' cultural backgrounds.

This study looked at differences between Latina survivors of domestic violence residing in shelter, based on the language in which they responded to the survey. Differences in needs, demographics, and outcomes were examined.


A national study of survivors of domestic violence in shelter surveyed residents of 215 domestic violence shelter programs in eight states. The eight states were chosen to represent different geographic regions of the country. All shelters in each state that were able to participate were included, resulting in a shelter participation rate of 81%. Survivors at these shelters were asked to complete surveys at entrance to and exit from shelters. A total of 3,410 residents responded, and 12% of respondents (n=378) identified as Hispanic/Latina.


The Hispanic/Latina respondents who completed the survey in Spanish (n=96) had lower levels of education than those who completed the forms in English (χ2=34.501, p<.01), but no other demographic differences. The survivors who responded in Spanish had more child-related needs when entering shelter (t=-2.778, p<.01), more total needs when entering shelter (t=-2.205, p<.05), more concerns about contacting the shelter prior to entry (t=-3.856, p<.01), rated their shelter stay more favorably (t=2.230, p<.05), and came from Census regions where the population had somewhat higher socio-economic status (t=-2.958, p<.01). They were also significantly more likely to identify immigration-related needs at shelter entry (t=-6.672, p<.01).

Conclusions and Implications

This comparison of Latina survivors who completed this survey in English and Spanish show a variety of differences between the two groups. Such comparisons have not been reported previously, but indicate the clear importance of increasing research accessibility across potential language and other barriers. This presentation will review the findings, address implications for differences in service provision between the two groups, and discuss potential research techniques to ensure all survivors are heard and represented.