Calls to Police and Police Response: A Case Study of Latina Immigrant Women in the USA

Nawal H. Ammar, Leslye E. Orloff, Mary Ann Dutton, Giselle Aguilar-Hass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


This paper addresses the experiences of battered immigrant Latina women when contacting police for assistance in attempting to reduce, end or flee violence. The research consists of interviews with 230 battered immigrant Latina women experiencing violence. The analysis examined the factors contributing to the extent, frequency and readiness of the women to call the police. The police response to and the effect of seeking help by battered immigrant Latina women on arrest of the perpetrator were also explored. The results show that the number of times and the frequency of contacting the police among battered immigrant Latina women was far less than would be expected based on their experiences with intimate partner violence. The factors which led women to call the police were mostly related to the stability of their immigration status, their children's exposure to violence, the women's region of origin and the frequency of domestic violence. The police response to this group of women demonstrates a lack of cultural sensitivity, and produces concerns regarding language accessibility and low rates of arrest. The paper concludes with recommendations about the need to better incorporate immigration as an additional factor in understanding intimate partner violence and help-seeking from police. We propose more thorough diversity training of police focusing particularly on immigrant battered women; the availability of interpreters for such calls within the immigrant communities; educating of the police about appropriate culturally based services available in their communities and better understanding of immigration options for battered immigrant women, including the protections afforded by the Violence Against Women Act.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-244
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Police Science and Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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