Exploring Help-Seeking Experiences of Chinese Immigrant Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S.

Yang Li, Fanghong Dong, Linda F.C. Bullock, Tina Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Immigrant women are vulnerable to intimate partner violence (IPV), and differences in immigration history, language, and culture impact their trauma responses. Although Chinese are the largest Asian immigrant subgroup in the U.S., little IPV research has specifically focused on this population. Therefore, we aimed to gain a better understanding of help-seeking experiences of Chinese immigrant women who had IPV. Method: Twenty female Chinese immigrant survivors of recent IPV completed a Mandarin-language qualitative phone interview about their IPV experiences, help-seeking behaviors, and barriers to services. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analyses. Results: Women in our sample relied on family, friends, and self-help strategies to cope with IPV. They experienced feelings of shame, stigma, and “losing face,” and had little social support. They also faced significant sociocultural and immigration-specific problems with formal services (e.g., culturally incongruent therapists, language, financial and transportation barriers, concerns about partner’s reputation and legal status), lacked knowledge about available services, and rarely engaged with them. Conclusions: Abused Chinese immigrant women may be exceptionally isolated, and culturally specific barriers may substantially impact both their understanding of their IPV experiences and their use of services. Practitioners need training and support to engage survivors in culturally competent ways. While safety planning and other formal IPV services are critical to safety and trauma recovery, these survivors underutilize them, and community outreach is needed to U.S. Chinese communities to raise awareness regarding available IPV resources and services. Finally, research is needed to develop and test culturally competent, evidencebased interventions for this isolated and vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-98
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese immigrant
  • Help seeking
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Social support
  • Woman

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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