Help-Seeking Barriers for Latinx Victims of Intimate Partner Homicide: Insight From Survivors, Advocates, and Community Practitioners

Published date01 August 2024
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/10887679231205613
AuthorAlondra D. Garza,R. Lillianne Macias,Vanesa Mercado Diaz,Rasheeda O’Connor,Nancy Nava,Xavier L. Guadalupe-Díaz
Date01 August 2024
Subject MatterSpecial Issue Articles
https://doi.org/10.1177/10887679231205613
Homicide Studies
2024, Vol. 28(3) 360 –382
© 2023 SAGE Publications
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/10887679231205613
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Special Issue Article
Help-Seeking Barriers
for Latinx Victims of
Intimate Partner Homicide:
Insight From Survivors,
Advocates, and Community
Practitioners
Alondra D. Garza1, R. Lillianne Macias2,3 ,
Vanesa Mercado Diaz3, Rasheeda O’Connor2,
Nancy Nava3, and Xavier L. Guadalupe-Díaz4
Abstract
Limited studies have considered the experiences of Latinx intimate partner homicide
(IPH) survivors. A federally designated, culturally specific gender-based violence
resource center partnered with nine community-based organizations to enhance
culturally specific knowledge on IPH prevention by conducting listening sessions
and key informant interviews with Latinx survivors, advocates, and community
practitioners. The current study analyzed data from the larger project to explore
help-seeking barriers encountered by Latinx IPH survivors, specifically cisgender
and transgender women. Results identified six themes impacting help-seeking: an
inaccessible criminal justice system, inequitable resources, immigrant identity,
gender role beliefs and expectations, a lack of culturally sensitive services, and family
concerns. Policy implications and future research are discussed.
Keywords
intimate partner homicide, Latinas, help-seeking, barriers, qualitative
1University of Houston-Downtown, TX, USA
2University of New Haven, West Haven, CT, USA
3Esperanza United, St. Paul, MN, USA
4Framingham State University, Framingham, MA, USA
Corresponding Author:
Alondra D. Garza, University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, TX, 77002, USA.
Email: garzaal@uhd.edu
1205613HSXXXX10.1177/10887679231205613Homicide StudiesGarza et al.
research-article2023
Garza et al. 361
Introduction
The escalation of intimate partner violence (IPV) to intimate partner homicide (IPH)
continues to be of substantial concern across the world. Global estimates have
revealed that approximately one in three female homicide victims are killed at the
hands of a current or former intimate partner (Stöckl et al., 2013). Within the United
States, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National
Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) have demonstrated that nearly 51% of
female homicides were committed by an intimate partner (Jack et al., 2018). Latinas
and other racial/ethnic minority groups of women are at a particularly heightened
risk of IPH (Petrosky et al., 2017) due to the systemic marginalization experienced
by these communities that exacerbates violence and inhibits formal intervention.
Swatt and Sabina (2013) found an increased risk of IPH for Latina women as com-
pared to white women across a 6-year period of NVDRS data from 2005 to 2010.
Similarly, Petrosky et al. (2017) noted that approximately 61% of Latina/Hispanic
homicides from 2003 to 2014 were IPV-related. Together, these estimates under-
score the serious fatal outcome of high-risk IPV cases that escalate in chronicity,
severity, and dangerousness for Latinas.
For IPV victims, it is well established that help-seeking is associated with reduced
revictimization, safety, and improved victim outcomes (Xie & Lynch, 2017). Help-
seeking is defined as utilizing support resources that can be either formal (i.e., com-
munity advocacy, criminal justice system, medical) or informal (i.e., family, friends)
(Lelaurain et al., 2017; Liang et al., 2005). Despite the benefits of help-seeking, low
rates of formal help-seeking have been documented for Latina IPV victims, in part,
due to a variety of contextual factors at the individual, cultural, and institutional level
(Alvarez & Fedock, 2018; Cuevas et al., 2014). Formal help-seeking rates among
transgender IPV survivors may be even lower when compared to cisgender counter-
parts (Kurdyla et al., 2021). Of particular concern, studies have found that transgender
women and transgender undocumented immigrants may be less likely to utilize formal
IPV services when compared to transgender men and documented residents (Messinger
et al., 2022). Help-seeking barriers for transgender IPV victims are further reinforced
by low rates of reporting and heterosexism by both perpetrators and formal institutions
(X. L. Guadalupe-Diaz & Jasinski, 2017). At the same time, studies have demon-
strated that Latina IPH victims have a history of reported IPV (Campbell, Webster,
Koziol-McLain, Block, Camp- Bell, et al., 2003; Petrosky et al., 2017; Swatt & Sabina,
2013). In other words, when an IPH occurs, it represents a failure to intervene and
prevent death via help-seeking (Campbell, Webster, Koziol-McLain, Block, Campbell,
et al., 2003; Koppa & Messing, 2021). Despite the prevalence of IPH among Latinas,
factors related to IPH within Latinx populations remain largely understudied (Messing
et al., 2021). Indeed, little is known surrounding barriers to help-seeking for Latinas at
high risk for IPH. Given the importance of help-seeking for IPH prevention, the pres-
ent study used qualitative data gathered from cisgender and transgender Latinx women,
advocates, and community practitioners to identify barriers that inhibit formal
help-seeking.

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