Cultural Abuse

Cultural abuse occurs when one person uses cultural standards, ideas, and pressures to shame, torment, isolate, or otherwise manipulate another person in order to maintain power and control in the relationship. This form of abuse can be especially significant if the abuser is white and the victim is a person of color, as privilege and racial power dynamics are even more pronounced and easily exploited by an abuser.

Are you experiencing cultural abuse? This can include, but is not limited to:

  • A partner devaluing an important part of your cultural identity
  • Using oppressive frameworks in a culture against you
  • Forcing you to participate in his/her culture; giving you the message that his/her culture is superior to yours
  • Forbidding you from engaging in cultural holidays, dress, food, or other parts of your culture
  • Exploiting immigration status where you may not be familiar enough with the new culture to access help and resources
  • Exploiting language barriers
  • Threatening deportation
  • Calling you racist names
  • Isolating you from others who speak your language
  • Isolating you from people who practice similar cultural and/or religious traditions
  • Destroying your immigration documents
  • Preventing you from receiving residence status

Facts and Statistics:

  • Among women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, the difference in the prevalence of reported rape and physical assault is statistically significant: American Indian/ Alaska Native women were most likely to report rape and physical assault victimization, while Asian/Pacific Islander women were least likely to report rape and physical assault victimization.(USDOJ3)
  • Native-American women report significantly more stalking victimization than do women of other racial/ethnic backgrounds.(Tjaden)
  • A recent study in New York City found that 51 percent of intimate partner homicide victims were foreign-born, while 45 percent were born in the United States. (NYC)