The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Intimate Partner Homicides Among Asian Immigrants

Friday, January 18, 2013
Grande Ballroom A, B, and C (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Bushra Sabri, PhD, Post-doctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Chic Dabby, Director, Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, San Francisco, CA
Background and Purpose: Research on domestic violence has begun to pay more attention to Asian Americans with the increase in the number of Asian immigrants in the US and the concerns about intimate partner violence and homicides among immigrants groups (Raj & Silverman, 2002). A study of homicides in New York City from 1990 to 1999 found significantly more victims identified as Asians were killed by an intimate partner than by a non-intimate (Frye, Hosein, Waltermaurer, Blaney, & Wilt, 2005). However, there has been substantially less work focusing on intimate partner homicides (IPHs) among Asian immigrants. Studies on Asian populations tend to aggregate various ethnic groups, not accounting for cultural heterogeneity among Asians. Furthermore, there is a general lack of research on gender differences in IPHs across ethnic subgroups of Asian immigrants. Understanding ethnic/gender differences is important for the identification of at-risk groups of Asians and targets for prevention efforts. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify gender differences in characteristics of IPHs among different ethnic sub-groups of Asian immigrants.

Methods: This research is based on newspaper clippings obtained from the Asia Pacific Islander Institute of Domestic Violence, the National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative, advocates and service providers, and femicide reports from the state coalitions of Minnesota, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.  The study included IPH cases among Asians (N=125) that occurred between January 2000 and December 2005 in the United States. The sample was 50% South-east Asian, 22% East Asian, 20% South Asian, and 8% other Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic-subgroup. Data were analyzed using descriptive and bivariate statistics.

Results: Men were more likely than women to kill their intimate partners, and to commit IPH-suicides. This gender gap was apparent across all Asian ethnic sub-groups. Men in their 30s and women in their 40s were at highest risk for perpetrating IPH. The average age gap between male perpetrators and their female victims (M=6.3) was significantly greater than the average age gap between female perpetrators and their male victims (M=3.2). Most killings occurred among current marital partners. However, compared to women, men were more likely to kill their former partners. Stabbing was the most common killing method used by both men and women. In more than a quarter of IPHs, the perpetrator committed suicide. IPH-suicides cases were characterized by old age of partners, partners in marital relationships, and use of guns as a weapon of choice. Among all Asian ethnic sub-groups, most IPHs and IPH-suicides occurred among South-east Asian immigrants.

Implications for Practice: As reported in studies on other racial/ethnic groups, Asian women comprised a disproportionately higher percentage of IPH victims than men. Although prior violence in the relationship is a risk factor for homicide, cultural and immigrant-related barriers may restrict women from seeking help in abusive relationships. This calls for education and awareness about dangers of abusive relationships among Asian communities, culturally competent risk/danger assessment, and initiatives targeting their unique needs, to reduce the risk of IPHs among Asian immigrants.