Family violence in migrant and refugee families and successful models of prevention and intervention: A summary analysis and annotated bibliography

Family violence in migrant and refugee families an...
01 Aug 2011

This annotated bibliography was undertaken as part of developing a research agenda for the ongoing programme of action for the Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families. It provides a summary of research relating to family violence (including what some refer to as domestic violence) within refugee and migrant families and communities in New Zealand and overseas. This research provides useful information about the prevalence, dynamics, causes, risk and protective factors and impact of family violence in a number of different ethnic communities. It also discusses the barriers victims face in seeking help and the challenges service providers face in addressing the needs of victims.


The main content of this bibliography is articles written since 1990 that focus primarily on family violence in migrant and refugee communities. However, some more broadly based material has also been included where it has relevance to family violence in these communities. Where this has occurred, the focus in the annotation is on family violence.

While the original focus of the bibliography was new migrant and refugee families, this has been widened to include both new and long-term migrant and refugee families. Many of the articles refer to family violence in immigrant communities without specifying whether or not the immigrants are new arrivals, or how long they have lived in the host country. While acculturation does appear to have some influence on rates of family violence, many of the other issues related to family violence in these families remain unaffected by the length of time spent in the host country. One exception is that the continuation of abuse over a long period of time in a situation where the victim is isolated from any support can lead to increasing despair and have physical and mental health implications (MacLeod & Shin 1993).

A further difficulty is that researchers do not always distinguish between immigrants and non-immigrants when researching ethnic minorities. The term Asian American, for example, is used by researchers to refer to both immigrant and American-born Asian (Futa et al. 2001). Articles which refer to Asian or Hispanic Americans, for example, have been included as not to do so would mean the omission of much research which provides valuable insights into these groups of immigrants. This bibliography thus includes annotations covering research on recent and longer term migrants and refugees and studies which are likely to include a high proportion of immigrants. In the US, for example, many Latina and Asian ethnic groups have a foreign-born rate of over 60% (Family Violence Prevention Fund 2009).

A number of research gaps have been identified in the literature and as this is likely to be an area of ongoing research, several articles have been included which deal exclusively with conducting research in this area.

The vast majority of the inclusions are from peer-reviewed journals. The remaining material comes from papers written by academics or professionals in the field and includes chapters in published books as well as materials produced by governments and non-governmental organisations.

The following databases have been searched.

  • Ministry of Social Development databases, including FirstSearch, EBSCOhost JBS, General OneFile, PsycINFO, Social Services Abstracts, PubMed, Sociological Abstracts, Social Care Online
  • ALIANZA (National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence
  • Sage Publications: Journal of Family Violence, Journal of Interpersonal Violence
  • National Criminal Justice Reference Service – United States Department of Justice
  • New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse
  • Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse
  • The Clearing House on Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly (Cane)
  • International Organisation for Migration
  • Canada: National Clearing House of Domestic Violence
  • United Kingdom sites on family violence
  • Minnesota Centre Against Violence and Abuse
  • UK Institute of Policy Studies.

The search words used were: refugees, migrants, immigrants, ethnic communities, family violence, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, child abuse, child maltreatment, child neglect, elder abuse, elder maltreatment, elder neglect.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018