Effect of culture on family violence in the Chinese community - DVAT by hcj


									Effect of culture on family violence in the Chinese Community:
                   Research Findings & Cultural Considerations

                                                            March 23, 2011
                         Knowledge Sharing Forum, Lethbridge, Alberta
                                      Anna Cheung, MSW, RSW, CSW
                                                   Project coordinator
                         Chinese Community Response to Family Violence

                                                  Phyllis Luk, MSW, RSW
                                                     Research coordinator
                              Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary

                                                    Daniel Lai, PhD, RSW
                     Professor & Associate Dean (Research & Partnerships)
                              Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary
 Family violence is always a hidden issue regardless of
  culture or ethnicity.
 This renders the use of programs and services in aid
 Many studies have confirmed that culture has a great
  impact on victims’ help-seeking behaviour and
  acknowledge the limitations of reaching out to ethnic
  groups in order to offer timely help.

 Scarcity of research addressing family violence in Chinese
    Canadian families.
   Examine the pathway of adult Chinese women’s experience
    in family violence and help seeking.
   How cultural beliefs and values influence victims of family
    violence in making decisions to seek help or not to seek
    help, or when and how to seek help.
   Focus on adult victims’ experience in the process of
    seeking help, and appraisal of the help received based on
    their cultural perception.
   Special focus and emphasis on the role of culture in the
    process of the abusive relationship.
 Qualitative ethnographic research design
 Participants: 10 adult women from the Chinese population
    who were18 years and older, residing in Calgary, and
    reported family violence or abuse in Canada.
   Interviews were conducted in 2009
   Face-to-face interview that lasted for 1 to 1.5 hours.
   Interviewers were fluent in either Mandarin or Cantonese.
   The key focus of the interview was the pathway and
    experience of the participants in domestic violence
    situations and the impact of culture on their
    circumstances and decision about taking action to end

Demographics summary
   Qualitative interviews: 10 female
   Place of origin: China - 8, Vietnam – 2 (of Chinese descent)
   Age: 20-39 age group – 3
        40-59 age group – 2
        60-79 age group – 3
        80 and over – 2
   Marital status: separate/divorced – 9
                  Remarried – 1
   Education: Elementary – 2
               Junior high – 3
               High school – 1
               College/University – 4
   Religion: Buddhism – 3
             Christian – 3
             None – 1
             Unknown – 3

   Occupation: Laborer – 3
              Professional – 1
              Clerical – 1
              Stay at home – 1
              Unknown – 4
   Length staying in Canada: 0-5 years – 1
                            6-10years – 3
                            11-15 years – 1
                            16-20 years – 5
   Abuser: Husband – 4
           Husband & brother in law - 1
           Son in law – 1
           Daughter in law – 2
           Daughter – 2
   Type of abuse: Physical abuse
                 Sexual abuse
                 Verbal abuse
                 Emotional abuse
                 Restriction of freedom and food
                 Being evicted from home

Research Questions
1. How does culture impact female victims of family
   violence and abuse in the Chinese community on
   problem recognition and defining abusive
   relationships and situations?
2. How does culture and ethnic minority status
   influence female victims of family violence and
   abuse in help seeking decisions?
3. What is the decision making process under the
   parameter of culture of selection of help provider?

1. How does culture impact female
   victims of family violence and
   abuse in the Chinese community
   on problem recognition and
   defining abusive relationships
   and situations?

How and when did you recognize you were involved
in a family violence situation?
 Some victims of family violence did not
  recognize or think that they had been in an
  abusive situation, some even blamed
  themselves for what had happened to them.

 P2: I was stupid that time; I felt that it was my fault to make
  others unhappy. When people told me that this is family
  violence, I didn’t notice that; I always thought that it was my
  fault and that I had made him unhappy .

 P3: I didn’t tell anyone…. I thought it was my fault, and I didn't
  dare to tell anyone.

How long has this pattern lasted for?

When family violence occurs, it does not usually
 involve only one or two isolated incidents. For the
 majority of participants, the pattern lasted for years
 before they told somebody or sought help.

P2: I have suffered in that kind of marriage for almost three
 years… The family violence lasted for three years.

P7: I asked for divorce after three years, because I couldn’t bear
 with it anymore.

In some cases, victims did not have friends, knowledge
 or information as they were new to the country, and
 they did not know where to turn to.

 P1: I just came for 10 days, I had no where to go, and I didn’t know
  the way. I learned Russian in China, not English, there’s nowhere
  to confide.

 P4: I don’t know any English, I know nothing, and what should I do
  if I am on my own… I have no friends and know very little about
  here (Canada).

In most cases, when the victims sought help as the
 situation got worse, they were told that they had been
 involved in family violence situation. For others, they
 began to realize it when they looked back to what had
 happened after they had left the situation.

 P3: Later Mr. K told me, you know, this is family violence… I begin
  to realize it after I have moved out.

 P4: When I went to Women Centre, they said Canadian husbands
  were not allowed to beat women, they couldn’t do this.

Although family violence/abuse is a serious problem,
 Chinese people do not even want to talk about it; not
 to say to seek help. They would rather bear with the
 abuse and keep the disgraceful affair within the family
 than to lose face. It is generally said, “don’t wash your
 dirty linen in public.”
 P3: I will not speak out as long as I am not hurt all over, I prefer to
  bear with it, you know, as a senior, as a mother, we all prefer to
  tolerate with our children (maternal love).

How does your culture and/or immigrant experience
affect your experience?
One of the major impacts that
 culture/immigrant experience has on victims of
 family violence is that they tend to bear with the
 abuse and do not want to disclose it.
 P6: People in Western countries think that when a woman’s
  husband cheats on her, she should leave him and become
  independent. But in the Chinese tradition, women should bear
  with it and forgive their husband.

 P8: I have never thought about resisting him or even asking for
  help. I have never thought about leaving him. My child is still
  young, and if I argue with my husband all the time, the family
  environment would not be peaceful anymore. And I don’t know
  what to do, so I just take in whatsoever the circumstance is.

Another factor is the conflicting ideas on
 marriage and divorce.

 P6: I don’t want to get divorced. I married him, so I belong to him
  for my whole life, whole-heartedly.

 P8: My mother thought that I should tolerate him instead of
  arguing with him for the sake of my child. Even when I got
  divorced, she felt that it was my fault. My sister thought that I
  didn’t do anything wrong, but she asked me to bear with it as
  well, because she thought my daughter was still young. She said:
  you should wait until your daughter grows up, then you can file
  for divorce.

Being new to the country also creates barriers and
 difficulties for victims to seek help

 P3: I knew nothing about human rights before. We didn’t even
  know that there is something called human rights.

 P4: I don’t even know how to take the C-train, I don’t know how to
  put the money in. I don’t know how to go to the bank. I know
  nothing about the policies in Canada.

As immigrants in Canada, another layer of cultural
 and circumstantial challenges will be added. Being an
 immigrant could affect the support that they receive.
 One participant said:

 P2: If I got divorced in China, although I wouldn’t get help from
  the government, I would have support from my parents, brothers,
  relatives, or friends. If I were in China, I could tell my relatives or
  friends about my current situation, and they would be very likely
  to talk to my husband (ex).

 P6: I would go back to my mother’s home. When I come back to my
  mom, I have a family, and I can live on my own.

2. How does culture and ethnic
 minority status influence female
 victims of family violence and
 abuse in help seeking decisions?

  What would you do if family violence had happened to
  you in your country of origin?
Would there be any difference between how you handled this situation in your
 country of origin and in Calgary/Canada?

Cultural factors do play an important role in the way the
 situation would be handled differently.

 P2: In China, people would just suggest that you bear with it
  instead of getting divorced. If I had told my relatives about my
  situation, they would also suggest that I just bear with it. Do not
  wash your dirty linen in public. For these small things people
  should not bother the government. It’s related to the cultural
  backgrounds. Here people think that when you suffer from abuse,
  you should leave him, people here emphasize on human rights.

 P7: In Vietnam, divorce is a big issue, just like in China; divorce is
  not a good thing, so some people don’t want to see you.

Another factor that contributes to the difference is the
 role that the government plays. There is no service
 available, or the government is indifferent.

P2: In China, no one will take care of these things. Men beat
 women or parents beat children, and when it happens no one
 cares. In China, there’s no way to take care of these small things.
 The police have to catch thieves, how can they take care of these
 small matters, no one would care. Because they think this sort of
 acts are part of family matters.

P4: In Canada, few people share rich resources. They value life
and people, which I think that other countries just cannot do it in
the same way. Canadians do a good job in protecting lives.
There’s the concept of family violence in China now, but no
specific law about it. But probably when wives are beaten into
paralysis, then their husbands would be charged.

What made you pull back initially from doing something to
make things right/get life easier?

Culture is one key factor that initially restrains them from
 taking action to end the abuse.
Traditional Chinese culture, the reluctance to expose
 family shame or disgrace that leads to the fear of others’
 belittlement, is found to be the main reason that victims
 of family violence do not take action to stop the abusive

 P1: Because I inherited a value, for my generation, there’s an old
  saying that mother should be proud of her son. I feel very
  ashamed to tell people about my family problem. The old saying
  is: do not wash your dirty linen in public; it would make others
  look down on me if they know this happen in my family.

Many participants commented that they wanted to
 keep the relationship; they don’t want the relationship
 become broken.

 P3: Older people, especially mothers, are always willing to tolerate
  with their children. Many seniors told me that they’re your own
  children, how could you do that (reporting the abuse).

P4: I want to keep the relationship.

For others, they were afraid because they did not
 know what the outcome would be and feared that they
 would not be able to lead an independent life when
 their relationship became broken.

P2: I don’t know what will happen. And if I speak out, I am not
 sure how to tell them, what will happen then, and I don’t know
 the agency.

 P6: Friends asked me to leave, but I wouldn’t leave. Because I
  didn’t have the ability, I was so stressed out and I had no way to
  afford living by myself.

3. What is the decision making
 process under the parameter of
 culture of selection of help

What made you decide to get help/do something?

Desperation is one of the main factors that motivated
  the victims of family violence to get help or do
  something. In many cases, the victims came to the
  point where their lives were being threatened.

 P1: My daughter said: Mom, we should escape, we have no other choice
  except to escape.

 P2: I felt that I was almost dead after he beat me, I used the ground
  line to call the police, but he tore away all the phone cords. Then I
  used my cell phone to call 911, he took it away, but the phone was still
  on and maybe the police heard it, so the police and the ambulance all

Other reasons include advice from friends and
 coworkers, and visible wounds that made the
 victims unable to bear the situation or keep the
 relationship any longer.
 P8: I am disappointed with my marriage. I am not that old, so
  why should I live with him for my whole life? I could survive by
  myself anyways. I know English, so why should I imprison myself?

 P6: I showed my wounds to my friends at my work place. He beat
  me so badly, and if I bear with it, it would get even worse.

 Where or who did you first seek help? Was there a reason you
choose to seek help from this person or organization?

They approach for help could be just random simply
 because of the rescuer was at proximity.
In one case, the victim ran to her neighbour for help,
 and they called the police for her.

 P6: He beat me to the ground and he didn’t stop. He kept beating
  me until he had used up all his energy. Then I went outside for a
  breath. He chased after me, I scared, I then knocked my
  neighbour’s door. The westerner next door saw my injuries, so he
  helped me call the police.

Victims of family violence would seek help from
 community services or organizations because they had
 a prior established relationship/trust, or they were
 referred to them by their friends or acquaintances.

 P3: Sometimes ago, when I went to CCECA for other things, Mr. K
  gave me his business card, I didn’t know anything about Canada,
  so Mr. K told me if I have any problem I could go to him. So I called
  Mr. K for help.

P7: My friend introduced me, he said the Chinese community will
 help people, but he didn’t know how would they help, so I go there
 for help.

What were the cultural considerations when you decided
to seek help?

  With the Chinese culture, marriage is for life to women, and
   they worry about what would happen to their spouse as a
   result of seeking help. Others feel ashamed that they have to
   take that step. As well, self perception toward one’s ability
   also affects a woman’s decision to seek help.

  P4: Because I think it is a life choice for a woman to marry a man.
   She wouldn’t want to get divorced, right? Generally she doesn’t
   want to have a divorce unless she has an affair outside. For
   Chinese woman, it is a whole life’s choice when she chooses a
   man, and a divorce is no good to her, because she has to learn to
   live independently, and in that period it would be hard. Not
   every woman would be brave enough to be independent, some
   women can’t walk out from the shock.

Who did you confide in, about your situation or
Friends, coworkers, family members or relatives are the
 groups of people whom victims of family violence would
 confide in about their situation. For friends, they are
 usually the ones they know in their place of origin.
 P4: I worked with two women in the restaurant, and they all helped
  me. They said you shouldn’t be like this, and they told me they
  would help me.

P8: All my good friends knew about it because I told them. I also
 told some of my classmates. I didn’t mind telling them, because I
 thought I didn’t do anything wrong. But for those that I was not
 very familiar with, I didn’t want to tell them. I told my family, I
 told my sister first. And I told my mom, but she always told me to
 bear with it.

 Discussion - findings
From the illustration of the pathway to seeking help,
  culture plays an important role in the Chinese women’s
  help seeking journey.
Women have an imbedded cultural value of keeping the
  integrity of the family:
 Tolerate the husband
 Women see their status in the family as in a submissive
  role where the husband is of supreme position.
 Bear the family situation for the sake of the children

 Do not bring shame and disgrace to the family
 Do not let others look down upon the family
 Patriarchal values has tremendous impact on the
 Chinese mother who passes down her value of
 endurance and being submissive to her daughter in
 spite of intolerable familial violence.

The undisputable submission of women to men deceived
 some woman victims of family violence in a way that
 they did not recognize or think that they had been in
 abusive relationship. Some even taking the blame as
 they thought they caused the trouble that led to
 displeasing their husband.

Women also expressed their fear about breaking up with
 their husband, as they worry about their ability to lead
 an independent life, with language issues,
 employability and unfamiliarity with the Canadian

Culturally appropriate support and education to the
  Chinese women are a fundamental way to break the
  circle of family violence.
Education for the Chinese community –
 includes not only for empowering the women
  themselves but also informing their immediate social
  circle and the men.
Culturally sensitive and appropriate materials would
  enhance receptivity of the Chinese community.

At the point of seeking help, most participants revealed
 that they were desperate or in a life or death situation.

The person they go to for help could be:
 Trusted person - Service provider with a pre-
  established relationship
 Police
 Random help – people at proximity (e.g. neighbour)

Service providers in the Chinese community played an
  important supporting role as respondents revealed that
  their prior knowledge and contacts with the providers
  help them better link with the service when they are in

Promotion of services established a bridge between
  service providers and the community.

Respondents are appreciative of the service they
 received from the providers, but they like to have
 service providers who speak their language and have
 information written in Chinese so that they can read

Linguistically and culturally appropriate services are
  particularly important during the moments where the
  victims are distressed.

Thank you!


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