Intimate Partner Homicide Prevention Among Latinas: A Qualitative Study of Risk and Protective Factors

Published date01 August 2024
AuthorR. Lillianne Macias,Alondra D. Garza,Krista Grajo,Nancy Nava,Thaily Guzman-Jimenez,Xavier L. Guadalupe-Díaz
Date01 August 2024
Subject MatterSpecial Issue Articles
Homicide Studies
2024, Vol. 28(3) 341 –359
© 2024 SAGE Publications
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/10887679241227892
Special Issue Article
Intimate Partner Homicide
Prevention Among Latinas:
A Qualitative Study of Risk
and Protective Factors
R. Lillianne Macias1,2 , Alondra D. Garza3,
Krista Grajo1, Nancy Nava2, Thaily Guzman-Jimenez4,
and Xavier L. Guadalupe-Díaz5
The current study explored perceptions of homicide risk and protective factors
among Latina survivors of gender-based violence and culturally specific practitioners,
including indigenous and transgender survivors. Themes resulting from a grounded
theory analysis include histories of violence and homicide threats, power and social
connections, difficulty disclosing threats to safety, fear and conviction, and separating/
leaving partners. Listening sessions with transgender and indigenous Latina survivors
uniquely emphasized experiences of structural discrimination. Narratives also shed
light on community strengths that can inform intimate partner homicide prevention,
including the role of kinship in culturally specific programing.
intimate partner homicide, Latinas, prevention, risk factors, protective factors
Intimate partner homicide (IPH) is a global public health issue that disproportionately
affects Latinas in the United States. Specifically, an analysis of homicide data from 18
states revealed 61% of adult Hispanic homicide victims were killed by an intimate
1University of New Haven, West Haven, CT, USA
2Esperanza United, St Paul, MN, USA
3University of Houston-Downtown, TX, USA
4University of California, Berkeley, USA
5Framingham State University, MA, USA
Corresponding Author:
R. Lillianne Macias, University of New Haven, 300 Boston Post RD, West Haven, CT 06516, USA.
1227892HSXXXX10.1177/10887679241227892Homicide StudiesMacias et al.
342 Homicide Studies 28(3)
partner as compared to 44% of non-Hispanic women (Petrosky et al., 2017). Latinx
communities reflect heterogenous groups, and foreign-born, indigenous, and transgen-
der Latinas are at distinctly high risk for homicide (Dinno, 2017; Petrosky et al., 2017;
Sabri et al., 2018). Survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) are experts on their
lived experience, and their perspectives have been used in past research to assess risk
and protective factors for IPH (Campbell et al., 2003, 2017; Garza et al., 2023; Weisz
et al., 2000). Similarly, perspectives of culturally responsive advocates provide unique
insight on the experiences of women with histories of IPV (Garza et al., 2023; Serrata
et al., 2017). Guided by intersectional and socio-ecological theoretical frameworks,
the present qualitative study explored perceptions of IPH risk and protective factors
among Latina IPV survivors and advocates.
Homicide Risk at the Intersection of Culture and Gender
Intersectionality refers to women’s locations at the intersection of gender, ethnicity,
nationality, im/migration status, language, and socioeconomic status, among other mar-
ginalized identities (Crenshaw, 1991). This paradigm is useful for examining historical
and structural forces that shape experiences of violence, including migration and colo-
nization (Erez et al., 2009; Marrs Fuchsel, 2013; Sokoloff, 2008). An intersectional
approach contextualizes the barriers women of color often face while seeking help for
IPV, from lack of culturally and linguistically congruent services, to structural legal
barriers (Crenshaw, 1991; Valdovinos et al., 2021). Paired with socio-ecological theory,
an intersectional approach can elucidate macro (societal) and micro (individual and
family) influences on experiences of violence (Casanova et al., 2016; Sabri et al., 2018).
Cultural values and scripts, including familismo, the cultural value that prioritizes the
needs and reputation of family over the needs of any specific individual, can influence
experiences of violence (Sabri et al., 2018). Various intersecting identities might affect
a survivor’s subscription to these cultural values such as age and level of acculturation
(Harper, 2017; Vidales, 2010). While research has documented clear disparities in IPH
by gender and ethnicity, there is an urgent need for research to grow knowledge on risk
and protective factors for Latinas of diverse backgrounds (Messing et al., 2022).
Methodological Challenges to Understanding IPH Among Latinas. Disaggregated data on
IPH among Latinas is limited and few studies provide a granular, intersectional look at
IPV experienced by Latinas. Challenges around potential underreporting of IPH and
IPV among women of color are not new. For instance, im/migrant and mixed docu-
mentation families face language and cultural barriers to obtaining evidence for pro-
tective legal actions (Crenshaw, 1991). Ethnicity data is not always available or
reported alongside fatality data, though in some cases, ethnicity can be determined
postmortem by referencing news media and death certificates to infer ethnic identity
(Azziz-Baumgartner et al., 2011). Within Latino or Hispanic research samples, data on
indigenous Latina identity is often missing (Casanova et al., 2016; Messing et al.,
2022). Indigenous groups from Mexico alone reflect over 85 distinct languages, and
research suggests these groups experience unique stressors, such as intra-group dis-
crimination (Casanova et al., 2016).

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