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

Correlates and Predictors of the Traditional Cultural Beliefs about Wife Battering in the Korean Immigrant Community

Saturday, January 19, 2013: 3:30 PM
Executive Center 2B (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Ailee Moon, PhD, Associate Professor, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Background and Purpose: Wife battering (WB) in the Korean immigrant family is strongly thought to be rooted in the traditional cultural norms of patriarchal dominance, devaluation of women, sex role rigidity, and socioeconomic stressors, such as language, employment and financial problems (Asian and Pacific Islanders Institute on Domestic Violence, 2011; Kim, Park, & Emery, 2009; Song & Moon, 1998; Yoshioka, Dang, Shewmangal, Chan & Tan, 2009). The purpose of the study is to examine the structural relationships between specific cultural beliefs related to WB and knowledge of domestic violence (DV) laws and public and community services available to DV survivors amongst Korean immigrants. It is hypothesized that the greater the knowledge about DV, the less likely one is to hold beliefs that endorse or perpetuate WB.

Methods: Study participants included Korean-born immigrants , who were able to read and write Korean. They were recruited in Los Angeles County between 1999 and 2004 employing  convenience sampling at numerous recruitment sites in order to diversify the sample. Data were collected anonymously from 800 respondents using a structured self-administered questionnaire.  The traditional Korean cultural beliefs governing the gender and marital relations specific to WB were measured by 22 statements in four domains: Tolerance of spouse battering (8-items); attitudes toward third party intervention or reporting (6-items); victim blaming (4-items); stereotypes of family with domestic violence (3-items). Legal knowledge was measured by six statements, including "Under the U.S. law, the intent for divorce will be automatically filed when a person brings a legal charge against her/his spouse for battering," which is a common law in Korea. Correlation and hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted on the total and each of the four domains of cultural beliefs of spouse battering using 12 predictors, including 8 demographic and socioeconomic variables.

Results: The findings indicated: a low WB tolerance score (1.2 out of 8); a moderate level of support for third-party intervention or reporting WB to the authority, victim blaming, and knowledge of DV resources; and a low level of legal knowledge. Twenty-seven percent knew someone who was a survivor of DV or WB. The overall WB attitude scores were significantly and positively correlated to exposure to legal knowledge (r=.41), DV resource knowledge (r=.21), exposure to DV survivors (r=.14) and DV public service announcement or educational materials (r=.11). Regression analysis on the 12 predictors found that older, married males and those with less legal knowledge were significant predictors of traditional cultural beliefs about WB.                  

Conclusions and Implications: The findings suggest that the future efforts in the Korean immigrant community to prevent DV, including WB, while promoting healthy gender and family relations, must address the legal issues, as well as the traditional patriarchal male dominance and cultural tolerance of DV. Considering the reluctance of Korean immigrant men to attend such DV related educational seminars, DV advocates need to collaborate with Korean-American social clubs, religious organizations, and various business associations to engage Korean men into re-thinking the relationship between DV and WB and healthy,  happy marital and family relations.