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Asian-Americans Rarely Seek Help for Domestic Violence

Update Date: Jul 16, 2012 11:20 AM EDT

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women and in the U.S., a woman is assaulted every nine seconds.

According to a Michigan State University researcher, Asian-American victims of domestic violence rarely seek help from police or health care providers. The researcher says that this new data is "an alarming trend" among the fastest-growing racial group in the United States. Asian-Americans are now the fastest growing racial group in the United States, making up 36 percent of all immigrants who arrived in 2010.

Researcher Hyunkag Cho concludes that there is a lack of culturally sensitive services available Asian-Americans and other minority groups and this can cause the victim from trying to get help again, after failing the first time.

"Authorities and health care providers need to be equipped with information and resources for adequately addressing the needs of victims of domestic violence among Asians and other racial minorities," Cho said.

Cho said fixing the issue can be as simple as a local domestic violence hotline that cannot facilitate calls from Chinese- or Korean-speaking victims due to language barriers.

Cho conducted two studies and his findings are published in the Journal Violence Against Women and the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health.

In his first study, Cho analyzed data from nearly 350 victims and found that Asian victims used mental health services only 5.3 percent of the time, while Latino victims used them 14.6 percent of the time.

Cho's second study found that Asian victims of domestic violence were at least four times less likely to use mental health services than whites, blacks or Latinos. He analyzed information from 755 victims.

Cho is from Korea and said he had friends who refused to seek help for domestic violence.

In many Asian cultures, seeking help can be seen as shameful to the victim and the victim's family.

But Cho said there has been too much focus on the victims' individual and cultural barriers to seeking help. Instead, he said the focus should be on how to make affordable, culturally sensitive help more available to them.

"We need to look at the bigger picture," Cho said. "We need more outreach efforts to increase access to domestic violence services."

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