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Cultural challenges surrounding survivors of domestic abuse

As a by-and-for specialist Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic support provider, we have expert knowledge on cultural challenges surrounding Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic survivors of domestic abuse, sexual abuse and gendered abuse that may differ from more general domestic abuse support.

If you are experiencing abuse or are worried that you are being abused and want a confidential chat, please call us on our multi-lingual freephone number 0800 055 6519.

  • Survivors who have married abroad and have come to the UK to join their partners to start their new life are sometimes promised a different life to what the reality of their life and partner actually is.

    Arriving into the UK, perpetrators use their immigration status as a way of controlling and coercing the victims.  Fearful as to what may happen to them if they seek help, victims keep the abuse they are suffering to themselves knowing that they are dependent on their partners for everything.  Perpetrators threaten to send victims back to their country should they tell anyone what is happening or if they do not obey them. Victims may suffer in silence as they are worried about the shame that this will bring upon their family and the fear that they may be treated as an outcast if they leave a relationship even if it is abusive.

  • Mental health is a difficult subject within the BME community. Too often, mental health is hidden or avoided due to cultural stigmas attached to mental health.

    One of the most common reasons for victim’s not reaching out for help or talking about their mental health is due to fears of shaming their family. Victims feel that they should be able to deal with their mental health issues themselves and find other ways to manage. Unfortunately, by avoiding these issues, they could inflict self-harm and sometimes even take their own life.

    In the BME community, awareness of mental health in different languages in communities is key. It is vital that key messages are shared to show that there is no shame in talking about your feelings and worries and to know that they are not alone and they can get help to not feel this way.

  • When domestic violence and abuse is present, sometimes there is more than one typical perpetrator involved in the abuse.

    In the BME community, perpetrators may also include the in-laws and/or extended family.

    Multiple perpetrators make it even more difficult for victims to disclose what is happening to them or find a way of escape or get help.

    Multiple perpetrators give the primary perpetrator more power and control as they are supported by those around them and keeps more people scrutinising the victim and adding to the abuse. This may occur in a family member appearing to support the victim but also being on the lookout on behalf of a perpetrator. If multiple perpetrators is a risk, it is important to speak or see victims on their own.

  • Service providers such as the police, the social services or housing authorities may base their responses to domestic abuse victims on cultural, ethnic or religious stereotypes. In some cases, they may avoid intervening in case they are perceived as being racist. If your abuser is Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority, you may choose to protect them from police due to your experiences of institutional racism.

“Nobody wanted to help me as I was not entitled to any benefits. Panahghar did not hesitate to provide me with accommodation and supported me through the immigration process. I now have my Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK and am looking to move on and start my new life of independence.”