Minority women findings on black ethinic experienceing domestic violence in tha uk



Mini introduction to this theme.

All the selected studies identified that immigration status was a strong factor for BME women experiencing Domestic Violence to report or address the violence or abuse that they were experiencing.  

Fear of deportation and loss of immigration status

Study 2 Intimate Partner violence and abuse against Nigerian women resident in England, UK: Identified that the participants from Nigeria, who came to the UK on Visas of their spouses feared to leave their abusers due to immigration barriers. Graca (2017) has highlighted that, the women are facing barriers and they are reporting their experiences of domestic violence. The barriers are often created by the policies regulating their immigration status. In some cases, according to Graca (2017), women would not seek to redress or report the cases of Domestic violence because they fear that their immigration status lead to their deportation in further details. Graca (2017) pointed out that, this scenario may be complicated to women, who are not from the non-European union, hence makes them to report any case of domestic violence.

 ‘’I was scared because of our status; our status was the main reason for not speaking out my husband told me if I keep going to the police when he does things to me, I would be deported. Anytime, we have an argument threatens to move, because of my financial and immigration status I beg him to stay’ (study 2, Participant 1)

 ‘’I could not seek help from women’s aid, social service sand children services I collected the numbers, but I did not do anything because I did not have papers’’. (Study 2, Participant 2)

Whereas UK immigration law recognises the vulnerability of individuals who came to UK on a partner spouse’s status and grants them permission to apply for ILR, even after overstaying their visa. The application can be successful, if they have proof that, their relationship broke, because of domestic violence and abuse during the probation period Graca (2017). They must provide evidence of proof like bills example rent or water bill to show that, they were in a genuine relationship during the probationary period. Hence, these things can prevent immigrant women to seek justice or report domestic violence in fear, that they will be deported.

This was reiterated in Study 3 Use of domestic violence by Portuguese women in England found that, on immigration Portuguese women are feared in reporting domestic violence because their husbands might get arrested and this would affect their stay in the country. According to XX Immigrant women experience, all sort of abuses under the fear that their partners will be deported, hence the partners or spouses took advantage of them knowing that the women depend on them for their immigration status.

Study 4 identified that, all the four participants on a visa dependent of British citizens and all the women reported that, whole in the abusive relationship they could not seek or disclose as they had no recourse to public funds. Fear of deportation and dependence on husbands were very common in findings supporting evidence. According to Anitha (2008), Women  affected by NRPF  find it hard to access benefits and public housing unless they come with a complex set of narrowly  defined needs, that can be met by the social services under the existing legislation, thus meaning that the women are experiencing domestic violence within two year period or more. If there sponsor visa has not renewed, their visa faces a stark choice of living with violent spouse or facing destitution. These complex issues make it impossible for immigrant women to leave their violent relationships hence the procedures takes long, hence fear of deportation, as well as fear of loss of their husband to prison sentence who are their breadwinners.  This shows, how women, who have fragile and unstable immigration relationships status, are experiencing domestic violence hence UK immigration law should consider the vulnerability of these women experiencing domestic violence in the UK.

Worries over accessing support because of immigration status

Breadwinners, benefits and extended family support

(Study 3) Paula et al. (2005) observed the nature between women and their spouses or partner that they value their relationships very much, hence when they abuse them, they prefer not to report  in fearing that this may affect their visa when they want to renew their Visas .According to Erez (2000), migration worsens the gender linked vulnerability of women ,it makes women more dependent on ,and at many times put them at the mercy of husband ,intimate partners or extended families and their own ethnic racial communities thus women experiencing domestic violence fear to report their partners and spouses because they dependent on them.  

Not being believed by figures of authority

Study 1, a series of interviews with 26 Pakistani women in UK found that disbelief and reluctance from immigration officers appears to be challenges faced by Pakistan women whenever they seek solutions on domestic violence.   According to literature by Siddiqui et al. (2008), they highlighted the plight of Pakistan women in the UK facing domestic violence; and how Home office disbelieve such women when they seek help from the immigration department in Particular.   Siddiqui et al (2008) also observes that home office officials often do not believe the immigrant women, who seek their help, a phenomenon that contributes to the difficulty in evidencing their reasons for seeking help. One Pakistani women from study 1 remembers immigration officers disbelieving her

‘’one immigration officer took my passport and laughed ‘she doesn’t want to go back home’ (Participant 1, study 1)

Patel (2003) found that, immigrant women often fear contact with state authorities in the destination country and under- utilise or avoid criminal justice altogether  

 While such evidence may need to be to be presented in objective and subjective material Nadia Siddiqui et al. (2008) found out that, they may not be able to present such and even if they present the evidence home office officials may not be convinced. According to Nadia Siddiqui et al (2008) Pakistan women in UK face the challenge of disbelief.


Language skills of the participants and the barriers that this presents was identified by most of the studies, as one of the main barriers to access support among the people of BME.  A report produced by Black Association of Women Step Out (BAWSO DATE) reiterates this (and if not, then find someone who does). A number of sub-themes were found within this, including lack of proficiency in English, unable to access services and Interpretation Services.

Lack of proficiency in English

Study 1: ‘Employment, masculinities and domestic violence in ‘fragile context: Pakistan women and Pakistani women in UK’ found out that a poor proficiency in English was a barrier that stopped the women seeking help or protection from their perpetrators. Menjivar & Salcido (2002) found that, the experiences of immigrant women in domestic violence situations are often worsened by their specific position as immigrants including limited host language skills.

Study 2 ‘Intimate study partner violence and abuse against Nigerian women resident in England, UK: a cross -sectional Study’ found that while study participants were mostly educated from Nigeria, they had a low level of proficiency in the English language prior coming to England.   Thus, acculturation was prolonged for them and that meant that integrating and learning English took longer.  

’I came here heavily accented, couldn’t take a paid employee…” participant 1 – (this could be Study 1, participant 1)

I went to women ‘s aid and explained my problems, told them I don’t have anywhere my husband wants to kill me. When I explained my husband wants to kill me, they said to me why can’t you call the police? Couldn’t answer the question properly because it’s not my language and as I am new in England, I don’t know how they do here” Study 2, participant 2)  

Language barrier is a common factor, that has been found to Barr women, seeking help or protection, when experiencing domestic violence. According to Battered women justice (2008), without understanding English, these ‘battered ‘women are not able to communicate with the police, medical team and learn about resources, accessible to them in the community or understand the legal system to obtain order for seeking protection or applying for their own citizenship.

Unable to access services 

 Study 3 “Use of domestic violence services by Portuguese women in England” found that, Language barriers are one of the main obstacles that prevents women of BME not accessing services that are provided by Domestic violence agencies. Limited or no skills in speaking and reading or writing English DOES WHAT?  According to respondents in this study, there was not enough information in Portuguese.   According to the study, it is difficult to understand how the services can be implemented and how to navigate them so that it is posisbel for the Portuguese immigrants to learn English and integrate well to the large communities for seeking help.

Study 3 conducted a number of interviews with support workers who were working with Portuguese women, who are immigrants and living in the UK.  They also expressed concern on how it is possible to allocate resources for them:

we did some independent research how the system works and that they understand if some who are less skilled in researching information would have difficulties with this’ (responded 1). Eight respondents who provide support to the Portuguese communities confirmed ‘it is very difficult to get Portuguese to attend any information sessions or free English courses or to do volunteer work’ (Study 3, respondent 2)

      According to Sundari, (2008), women, who are not able speak English, are often unaware that, domestic violence services exist in this country. This was also reiterated by Rai and Thiara (1997) that, marriage migrants, who may not speak English, may not be aware of services available and having a support worker, who speaks in their language, can be a life line.  In research done by Saheli (2008), only four OUT OF? were fluent in written English and the rest had intermediate levels of comprehension which has implications for accessing written information such as leaflets, posters and understanding immigration documents.

Interpretation Services

Study 4 “Help seeking for domestic violence and abuse for women of ethnic minority populations”; found that, many research participants reported English as second language thus leading to poor quality communication during times of distress. It was also identified that interpreters used might hold information or not give a full account of the story on the victims’ side which would go undetected by those who do not know the language.   According to Jyoti (2008), a domestic violence officer, had this to say about this issue:

White officers do not have much patience with those who not speak English and the whole process of requesting for interpreting services and being able to get on with job is very tedious and time consuming as there is always lack of interpreters ‘

The chief Executive of a women’s refuge said (WHERE IS THIS COMING FROM?)

‘The use of inappropriate interpreters, usually elderly Asian males, brings range of problematic gender dynamics and may result in victims being reticent about telling their story in front of an elderly figure’

Victims who cannot communicate in English may be pressured not to seek help by their friends and relatives because they cannot express themselves, hence relatives and friends or interpreters can mispresent their stories (choudry, 1996). This makes it difficult for the women to escape from the abuse, because they would feel that, no one would be able to understand or believe their experiences.


The theme of Culture has also been identified as a barrier for BME women not fleeing or seeking refuge from their violent partners.  According to (BAWSO),

Within this theme, a number of subthemes have been identified.  These are shame to the family, submissive to their husbands and seeking informal help.  The following sections will explore these themes in relation to the data collected.

Shame to the family

The theme of shame on the family was found within all of the studies.  In study 2 ‘Intimate partner and abuse against Nigerian women resident in England’; found that the women interviewed were reluctant to flee violent relationships because of their belief that it brought shame to their families.

 “You know what, based on our culture of suffering and smiling, this prevents many of us from speaking up and seeking help, and what will people say? That you are telling others about your man, such things tie us up and it’s the cause of our problem (Study 2; participant)

 “You know we Nigerian women, the way we were brought up, you know in your house they will tell you, in your husband’s house, this what will happen, you don’t have to complain (Study 2; participant 2)

This was reiterated in study 4; ‘A qualitative systematic review of disclosure and help seeking for domestic violence and abuse among women from ethnic minority populations’ which found family as part of their identity and to walk away from their family as result of domestic violence and abuse was seen as a significant loss. Therefore, women prefer to suffer from domestic violence than to bring shame or lose their families. According to Gill (2004), who carried out in‐depth interviews with 21 Asian women, sixteen out of twenty-one women expressed embarrassment to speak to family and friends about violence and only six sought help from the external agencies.

Therefore, it would appear that this act of respecting marriages and fear of being labelled by the community can influence the disclosure and help seeking of BME women experiencing domestic violence. Fears of social ostracism and harassment that would result in name of destroying respect of not family, but the community prevent them from leaving abusive relationships (Siddiqui, 2005). In addition, participants in Belur (2008) reported that, culture as the main community influences which served as the barrier to disclosure.  In their research, which explored the experiences of South Asian women, who were victims of domestic violence, it was found that the women interviewed “often struggle with feelings of guilt about letting their family and community down by involving outsiders in their domestic matters” (Belur, 2008:432).

Submissive to their husband

Being submissive was also identified in most of the studies

Study 1; ‘Employment, masculinities and domestic violence in ‘fragile ’contexts: Pakistani women in Pakistan and the UK found that, regardless of the fact that, whether the women earned more or less than their partners, they would still be submissive to their husbands.  The women in both the UK and Pakistan often reported prioritising their husband’s needs, so that they were not accused of neglecting them, hence being abused.

If I left him, people would make fun of me that I left my husband because he was jobless.SO, however it be, sad or whatever, I feel I should just spend my life with him” Study 1 (participant 1)

One participant in the same study described how as a working woman, supporting her unemployed husband still felt subservient to her husband’s demands:

 It was after 10pm, and he demanded that I cook him nuggets immediately, and I remember coming up after about five or ten minutes and trying really to appease the situation and he said ‘oh for God ‘s sake, isn’t ready yet? So, I had to take less than 3 minutes obviously they weren’t cooked through. And then he bit it and said you are trying to poison me you bitch’, and just threw the whole thing in the bedroom, but I still couldn’t challenge him”

According to AI-khayyat (1991), male violence against their partners may be seen as necessary and proper to preserve the integrity of the man and the family. Their research shows that, not responding with violence after a supposed female behaviour may be seen as a source of weakness. Therefore, feminine sacrifice and family loyalty tend to be the dominant strongest culture of Black minority ethnic women. According to Gill (2004), in Asian communities, most of the women canvassed agreed that, the men are considered as superior to women, there was a cultural acceptance of slapping of woman and they reported it as normal according to their culture (Gill 2004).

 Seeking Informal help  

 Seeking informal help was also identified in all four studies as the main theme

Study 1 found that, the women felt pressurised to keep the violence secret as far as possible concealed within the home, for the shame and the fear of the community finding out. This means that, they often did not call upon the state and sought out more informal forms of support. The BME women, experiencing domestic violence in study 1, were found to have asked family members such as their parents or in-laws to intervene in the preference to professional outside services.  As a result, they often would not get the support for separation or changes in their marriages that they sought.

One participant in study one described seeking help from her own father ………

 And I sort of sat there on the sofa, he cried. And I said to him why are you crying? And he cried because I was there, not a single tear in my because I had become immune to it And I think then it really hit him, God what has he done to my daughter?” (Study 1 participant 1)

Her father then reluctantly gave his support for separation with warning that it’s going to be hard without a man. According to Bleur (2008), they found that, there was a tendency among the Asian community to try and sort out their problems within the family and the community. It was considered as shameful to involve outsiders.   However, the same study suggested that, things are changing for the younger generation who may be more vocal and may be less likely be subjected to or accept domestic violence. The more they are aware of their rights, thus being independent. They do not hesitate to involve police if their families are unable to sort the issues.

Study 3; Use of domestic violence services by Portuguese women in England; Portuguese women preferred informal help to address their issues of domestic violence. Some of the other respondents argued that it was out of shame and lack of language skills According to Gill 2004 in other BME communities, telling is immoral and shameful than the violence. This dishonour the family by making public something that is felt out to remain private. Therefore, cultural influence is a barrier that prevents women to leave their violent partners.


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