Action Research at the Intersection of Structural and Family Violence in an Immigrant Latino Community: a Youth-Led Study
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The current study addresses the lack of research exploring the social and emotional impact of anti-immigrant policy on Latino communities, and the intersection of anti-immigrant climates with other family stressors, like domestic violence (DV). In this paper we describe a qualitative study led by the participatory action research group La Voz Juvenile de Caminar Latino. Youth researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with Latino men, women, and youth participating in a domestic violence program. Using an inductive approach to thematic analysis, researchers identified themes that reflect how Latino families with histories of DV experience an increasingly anti-immigrant climate. All participants in this study described emotional stress, fear, and restrictions in their day-to-day life attributed to the anti-immigrant sociopolitical climate, and adults also spoke to work-related stress and economic insecurity. Both adults and children described harassment by strangers, coworkers, and/or peers. With regard to DV, women tended to describe immigration stress as exasperating family conflict, while men viewed these external stressors as discouraging DV. Distrust of police and other formal supports was a key theme underlying adult and youth perceptions of help-seeking for DV. The findings of this study suggest that anti-immigrant sentiment and policy creates undue stress for Latino families and barriers to formal help-seeking for DV. The participatory research process provided a corrective experience for youth witnesses of DV and prioritizes the voices of those most affected by immigration policies and violence.
KeywordsDomestic violence Hispanic Latino Participatory action research Policy Immigration Youth
The researchers would like to acknowledge the following individuals for their contributions to earlier versions of this paper: Josephine V. Serrata, Ph.D., National Latino Network for Healthy Families and Communities, Casa de Esperanza; Alvina Rosales, Ph.D. Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, and Julia Perilla, Ph.D., Georgia State University.
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