The Intersection of Domestic Violence and Oppression

Friend to Friend is committed to providing an abuse-free culture for all. All people have a variety of identities including race, class, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, age, cultural background, and more. This is also true for the clients we serve.

These various identities impact the ways that victims of interpersonal violence experience violence and oppression. The term “intersectionality” refers to the fact that people can experience discrimination and oppression toward multiple parts of their identities. For example, trans and non-binary people of color may experience both racial and gender oppression. When working with victims of abuse, it is important to recognize that factors such as race, class, and sexuality can impact and compound victims’ experiences of abuse. Sadly, current U.S systems largely lack an understanding of how multiple identities intersect and compound impacts, making services particularly difficult to access for these populations. 

People experiencing poverty and homelessness often find it difficult to leave their abusive situations. They face discrimination and negative stereotypes and stigmas, which in turn present barriers to accessing vital services. For example, sixteen percent of homeless persons are victims of domestic violence. Many of these people face a choice between leaving their abusers and being homeless, OR staying with their abusers and continuing to live in dangerous, even life-threatening, situations.

Likewise, for a number of reasons, people of color that experience abuse may be less likely to report. They all-too-frequently hesitate to reach out to victim-service providers or domestic violence shelters because they have faced racist ideologies in those spaces in the past.  

A Department of Justice survey of more than 2,000 women found that 84 percent of Native American and Alaskan Native woman have experienced violence, 56 percent have experienced sexual violence, and more than 90 percent have experienced violence at the hands of non-tribal members. Tribal courts do not currently have the jurisdiction to prosecute non-tribal perpetrators of sexual assault, rape, and other crimes. Additionally, protection orders that are mandated by tribal governments are often not respected by local law enforcement outside of the tribe. The result is that abuse by non-tribal members of indigenous persons too often goes unpunished.

In addition, immigrant women are at increased risk of interpersonal violence, due to such issues as: lack of language, lack of economic resources, social isolation, immigration stress, and immigration status. Also, they are usually tied to their spouses’ legal status and can suffer from threats of deportation. Social collectivism and strong patriarchal attitudes also contribute to higher rates of intimate partner violence among underserved populations. For example, abuse in Hispanic households in the United States often takes place in the context of poverty, unemployment, underemployment, cultural isolation, lack of education, language barriers, and non-citizen status. As a result, Latina women are estimated to experience nearly twice the rate of partner violence as white women.

Friend to Friend is committed to ensuring all victims , regardless of their race, socio-economic, religious, gender, sexual orientation, color, citizenship status,  physical or mental disability, fleeing from abuse in our community, have access to the trauma-informed free-of-charge services and shelter we provide.

 -Dr. Anne Friesen


Chandler Thornton