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Black, Minority Ethnic (BME) Communities

Victims/survivors of domestic abuse from BME Communities may experience additional barriers to disclosing abuse and seeking support. As a result, abuse may escalate. Research by the NSPCC suggests that victims from BME communities continue to live in abusive situations for longer, which negatively impacts the victim and children living in households.

Some religious and cultural communities may encourage men and women to fulfil roles specific to their gender, which may encourage rigid expectations and pressure to comply. Though some individuals may use cultural practices as an excuse to exert pressure and control, abuse is never an accepted practice.

There are some specific forms of abuse which may be perpetrated within those BME communities where honour plays a vital role. These include honour based violence, forced marriages and FGM.

The violence and abuse can be perpetrated by not only the spouse or partner but also by the extended families and the community. Family and community members may be complicit in this abuse or may wish to deal with it by themselves and not involve other agencies.

BME victims experiencing domestic violence and abuse may be reluctant or prevented from seeking help for many reasons:

  • Language barriers
  • Fear they will not be believed or understood
  • Limited access to or little knowledge of finances
  • Lack of awareness of what constitutes domestic abuse and the impact this has on their children
  • Lack of awareness of the laws governing Domestic abuse and the response they can expect from police/courts/services
  • Fear of discrimination by statutory services, such as police and social services, based upon previous experiences or beliefs
  • Fear of being sent back overseas which could cause further shame to the family's honour
  • Fear about their children's (mainly daughters) ability or prospect to marry
  • Fear they will become isolated from family and community bonds if they seek help/leave relationship
  • Concern that professionals may normalise abuse within their background or culture
  • Fear they may lose residency in the UK, where immigration status is an issue. See No Recourse to Public Funds.

Specialist Domestic Abuse Services are trained to understand and respond effectively to the complex range of fears and barriers victims from BME communities may experience.

Culturally specific programmes and group activities can be accessed which aim to recognise the above concerns, as well as safe and impartial language interpretation services where needed. Local Specialist Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Support Providers, provide leaflets in a range of community languages. This can be accessed via the UAVA Website. The following poster may be helpful for practitioners wishing to confirm the language spoken by an individual .

For more information and resources see: