Abstract: Hmong Intimate Partner Homicide-Suicide: Perspectives from Hmong Community Leaders (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

113P Hmong Intimate Partner Homicide-Suicide: Perspectives from Hmong Community Leaders

Thursday, January 13, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Pa Thor, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, New York University, New York, NY
Background and Purpose: IPHS (intimate partner homicide-suicide) is a form of gender-based violence committed predominantly by men against their current or former female spouse. Since the Hmong immigrated to the United States over 40 years ago, many Hmong families have experienced horrific acts of IPHS, predominantly among intimate partners. Hmong leaders, the majority of whom are older Hmong men, are called upon to meditate on family violence issues because of their position as mediators and advisors to Hmong families. Despite long-standing cultural interventions, family violence incidents such as IPHS continue to occur, and no research has been conducted to explore how Hmong IPHS incidents are handled and understood by Hmong leaders.

This paper addresses this knowledge gap by exploring the retrospective accounts of Hmong leaders who have assisted Hmong families resolve family violence and marital disputes. Drawing on their own experiences in mediation and intervention, Hmong leaders discuss IPHS incidents and possible collaborative efforts with social workers to best support Hmong families.

Methods: This is a qualitative single case study design. Participants were recruited through a local non-profit Hmong organization that provides cultural, educational, health services to Southeast Asian families in the local community. The sample consisted of older men (age 50-70) who identified as Hmong and a Hmong leader. Fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with the participants regarding Hmong IPHS incidents that occurred in a California county with a considerable Hmong population. Interview questions asked about participants' experience and understanding of the Hmong culture, as well as their positions and responsibilities as Hmong leaders. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded thematically in Atlas TI, using grounded theory analysis, and guided by the hegemonic masculinity theory.

Results: Hmong have traditionally abided by collectivist and patriarchal practices to resolve marital conflicts. Reports from Hmong leaders highlight challenges concerning culture, gender roles, and masculinity in IPHS perpetration. Participants describe how current approaches to resolving Hmong IPHS are guided by both cultural and legal norms. The data suggest that IPHS perpetration results from a combination of the perpetrator’s characteristics and the extent of their connection to cultural norms. Findings suggest that the Hmong are committed to preserving their language, cultural norms, and other group-specific characteristics; hence, ceremonies and conflict resolutions are still carried out under long-standing cultural practices.

Conclusions and Implications: This study provides new research on how Hmong leaders consider the group's preferences and expectations when addressing IPHS and family violence. This study emphasizes the importance of building on existing practices among ethnic minorities to concentrate on their strengths and integrate community-based interventions. Recommendations for researchers and social work professionals include collaborative strategies with local community leaders to reform traditional family violence resolution approaches and implement methods that facilitate racial and gender equity for Hmong in modern society.