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Understanding the Intersectionality of Domestic Violence: A Call for Inclusive Solutions (Part 1)

This is the first in a 2 part series about the intersectionality of domestic violence. The second part can be found here.


As we’ve already discussed throughout this blog, millions of people throughout the world are affected by domestic violence each year, myself included. Acknowledging how victims of domestic violence are each a unique individual will help us to realize that they each face their own set of exceptional challenges. According to legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, this can be defined as “intersectionality” - a concept recognizing that a person’s identity and experiences are shaped by multiple intersecting factors of both oppression and privilege.


Recognizing Intersectionality in Domestic Violence


When you pause to consider domestic violence in this way you’ll see that there are a variety of types of discrimination and marginalization that intersect to make people more likely to experience domestic violence and prevent them from seeking help. 


Race and Ethnicity


Minority communities (especially people of color) are already facing systemic racism. This will only make it more difficult to get the support and legal representation that a victim of domestic violence needs. Oftentimes, people are even further deterred by their cultural stereotypes and the fact that they don’t trust police officers.


Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation


Statistics show that LGBTQ+ persons experience more domestic violence than that which is experienced by heterosexual persons. This is because they also experience additional barriers that prevent them from seeking help (e.g., discrimination, lack of culturally competent resources, societal stigma).


Socioeconomic Status


Many victims of domestic violence become trapped in their abusive situation due to economic disparities. This is because many abusers refuse to allow their victims to have control over their own finances - something that was true in my case. It also didn’t help that we didn’t have a high income so obtaining things like affordable housing and legal representation made things even harder (as it does with others in similar situations).


Disability


People who have a disaibility are at an even greater risk of experiencing domestic violence. They too will encounter unique challenges (e.g., dependence on caregivers who perpetrate abuse, communication barriers) that prevent them from obtaining the support they need. Additionally, many shelters aren’t able to accommodate them. Legal proceedings may also prove an additional barrier from them receiving the help that they need.



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