NVAA 2000 Text

Chapter 8 Supplement Respecting Diversity: Responding

to Underserved Victims of Crime

Significant Research


"Cultural Considerations in Assisting Victims of Crime" is a two-year research project conducted by the Washington, DC-based National MultiCultural Institute (NMCI) and funded by the Office for Victims of Crime to:

Report on Needs and Promising Practices. The resulting Report on Needs and Promising Practices presents an overview of current victimization issues as they affect people of diverse backgrounds and cultures, and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of victim assistance programs, with the following findings:

- Assumed similarity.

- Misinformation about victim services and victim compensation.

- Language barriers.

- Lack of diversity among program staff.

- Distrust of the criminal justice system, fear of deportation.

- Loyalty to one's cultural groups.

- Shame and taboo.

- Cross-cultural communication.

- Prejudice.

- Expectations of service provider's role.

- Grieving and healing process.

- Perception of privacy.

- Role of the family.

NMCI research also confirmed that while there are several general training curricula on cultural diversity, there is a lack of training curricula material specific to victims of crime.

Cultural Competence Assessment Tool for Victim Service Providers. As part of the third phase of the project, NMCI developed a Cultural Competence Assessment Tool for Victim Service Providers that addresses the barriers victims often face, and provides a mechanism for internal assessment within service agencies and criminal justice professionals. NMCI has piloted the instrument at 100 sites. The data will be analyzed in the latter half of 2000 and the instrument will be utilized by providers to:


A survey conducted by the Immigrant Women's Task Force of the Northern California Coalition for Immigrants' Rights revealed that 34 percent of Latinas and 25 percent of Filipinas surveyed had experienced domestic violence in either their country of origin, the U.S., or both. Further evidence indicates that there are large numbers of immigrant women trapped in violent relationships who are afraid to ask anyone for help. Language barriers, fear of deportation, and a poor understanding of their rights in the community are the most commonly cited barriers to their seeking help. Frequently, batterers manipulate their partners' unsettled immigration status as a means of keeping them in the abusive relationships (FVPF n.d.).

Shelters for battered women are often concerned with the legal consequences of serving battered immigrant women without legal documentation. According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF), nonprofit organizations are explicitly exempt from verifying immigration status as a condition for providing services. Immigration status is not relevant to a battered woman using the shelter, nor should it affect provision of services (Ibid).

FVPF has developed a brochure that is available in Arabic, English, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. It informs immigrant battered women of their rights (regardless of their immigration status) and provides them with crucial information about whom to contact for assistance, where to go, what they need to take with them when leaving, protection orders, and temporary public assistance (Ibid).

The role of the victim advocate in helping battered immigrant victims is to learn about possible options, assist victims in accessing these options, and respect the decisions that they make. In-depth coverage of these issues can be found in the Domestic Violence In Immigrant Refugee Communities: Asserting the Rights of Battered Women, available through the FVPF Web site: <http://www.fvpf.org/immigration/index.html>.

An additional resource for immigrant victims of domestic violence is the National Domestic Violence Hotline for crisis intervention and detailed information on shelters, legal advocacy, assistance, and social service programs. The hotline is available 24 hours a day in English and Spanish and through translators, in 139 other languages: (800-799-SAFE) or from a TTY (800-787-3224).

Promising Practices

Chapter 8 Supplement References

Bash, C., M. Amato, and M. Sacks. January 2000. "Chelsea, Massachusetts: A City Helps its Diverse People Get Along." Practical Perspectives. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF). n.d. Battered Immigrant Women. <http://www.


Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF). n.d. Domestic Violence In Immigrant Refugee Communities: Asserting the Rights of Battered Women. <http://www.fvpf.org/


National MultiCultural Institute (NMCI). January 2000. Summary Report on Cultural Considerations on Assisting Victims of Crime. <http://www.nmci.org>.


Ogawa, B. 1999. Color of Justice: Culturally Sensitive Treatment of Minority Crime Victims, 2nd ed. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Back to Table of Contents

2000 NVAA Text
Chapter 8
Archive iconThe information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.