Breaking the web of silence: An exploration of Chinese women's experience of domestic violence in New Zealand
Gee, L. (2016). Breaking the web of silence: An exploration of Chinese women’s experience of domestic violence in New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/10886
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/10886
Domestic violence is a serious social issue within New Zealand society. Asian immigrant women with domestic violence experiences often face specific socio-cultural challenges and barriers that hinder them from making sense of their experience, seeking help and accessing necessary intervention. In New Zealand, there is limited domestic violence research which focuses on the lived experience of women in Asian immigrant communities. This research attempts to fill this gap by exploring Chinese women’s experience of domestic violence in New Zealand. It explores the dynamics of domestic violence in the context of family, community and immigration and the impact of violence on Chinese women’s health and well-being. It examines the cultural and gendered factors which shape Chinese women’s experiences and their help-seeking strategies. This research identifies barriers facing the women when they seek help from their informal and formal support networks. It also examines, from the Chinese women’s perspective, the role of the Chinese community and statutory and community-based services in offering effective intervention to Chinese women. Five case studies based on semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted to provide an in-depth understanding of Chinese immigrant women’s experience of domestic violence. The findings suggest that Chinese immigrant women are particularly vulnerable in domestic violence situations and the abuse has long term psychological implications for women’s health and wellbeing. Traditional cultural beliefs and gender role expectations add extra potency to the husbands’ power and control tactics over the women and their social support. Abused Chinese women are typically socially isolated. The multidimensional analysis shows that a combination of individual, interpersonal, cultural, contextual, and structural and community factors impact on Chinese immigrant women’s ability to make sense of the violence and abuse and to employ help-seeking strategies. Majority of the women in this study utilised a mixture of formal and informal intervention. When the abusive situation reaches crisis point, they prioritised seeking help from informal support networks. Although the women’s faith served as a coping strategy when dealing with the abuse, at other times, the women were re-victimised by religious leaders and faith community members. A safe and trusted community space is needed for Chinese women to share their experiences without being seen in a negative manner by outsiders. Community initiatives need to focus on community education and intervention that offers adequate assistance and support to Chinese women in domestic violence situations. Overall, the women had positive experiences when accessing various formal interventions. However, specific challenges and barriers that the women faced were also identified and discussed. Throughout their experiences, Chinese women gained critical consciousness and discovered positive strategies that helped them to heal from the abuse. This research provides recommendations for an integrated, co-ordinated and collaborative approach and community response to address domestic violence in the Chinese community. It also calls for culturally safe and culturally competent family violence services which meet the specific needs of Chinese women and their families.
University of Waikato
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- Masters Degree Theses