LatinaLista – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence is a real issue among Latinos but it’s an issue that doesn’t get enough attention — especially for Spanish-speaking victims.
One author wants to change that.
Dr. Celso William Chignoli wrote the book Violencia doméstica: Detección, prevención, y ayuda (Domestic Violence: Detection, prevention and help).
In his book, Dr. Chignoli tackles a subject that is still not openly talked about among Latino families. In the following Q&A, Dr. Chignoli explains the reason why he wrote the book and explains why it’s so difficult for Latinas to leave when they are abused.
Q: Why was it important for you to write a book about domestic violence?
A: Between 1995 and 2008, during my appointment as senior pastor of Scruggs Memorial United Methodist Church and senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the New Community, I established a health system that is called “La clínica” (The Clinic).
We provided medical, dental, psychological, and social work services free of charge, to 1200 patients a month. Eighty-five percent of those were migrant or undocumented workers who could not afford to pay for their health care.
That is when people would come in with complicated problems associated with domestic violence, both victims and victimizers. I then started researching information. Most of the books found were narrations or testimonials of people who had been through domestic violence.
They were interesting enough to show but did not provide any instruction for a person in that situation now. At Perkins School of Theology, Concordia Seminary and other schools, I offered specialized courses for pastoral care and counseling in their summer class programs.
The classes helped students and ministers who did not have much education or knowledge about domestic violence. This course also helped guide them for situations if they should arise.
Also, a Latina’s sense of responsibility and culture is engulfed in her family. Leaving her family is highly unlikely. All of this, and other experiences, gave me the drive to start writing a culturally relevant resource for the Hispanic community.
Q: Who is your target audience for the book?
A: Initially, what I wrote was directed towards seminarians, pastors and church ministries. Then I decided to give attention to people that were coming out of the cycle of domestic violence so they can understand what was happening to them.
This book is also for counselors who may not have a way to help with domestic violence cases. They can gain knowledge on this subject to treat victims and victimizers.
Q: Why is this topic taboo in Hispanic households?
A: Domestic violence is taboo within Hispanic households and other groups primarily because it is not based on the victimizer being an alcoholic, drug addict or illiterate, but is rooted in anger and the lack of ability to manage that anger.
Aggression, violence and sexual abuse is displayed and sometimes glorified in all forms of media. In Hispanic communities, the majority of Latin-American countries including Spain do not have protective laws and have not developed a sense of respect towards women.
Discrimination is also common, even though seventeen percent of domestic violence victims are men. Law enforcement in Hispanic countries could be better educated and/or trained to assist a person in this situation. Hispanic women are often stuck in their male chauvinism customs. Therefore, when a woman does not submit to her partner’s needs, it can escalate to death.