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Violence Against Women of Color

The CARE Office is dedicated to understanding the unique challenges students of color face. The office continues to educate staff members, volunteers and the campus community on the experiences People of Color (POC) face when seeking services.

A history of sexual violence, racism and sexism are intertwined with the history of the United States as a whole. To better understand the experiences of POC, CARE recognizes the historical trauma that is intertwined within the interpersonal violence experienced by survivors. POC are often blamed for the sexual violence they suffer, and institutionalized racism and sexism among systems that respond to sexual violence discourage survivors of color from reporting their assaults. In some instances, survivors do not receive the supportive services they deserve. It is the goal of the CARE office to provide confidential culturally competent advocacy and support services to all persons in the UC Merced community.

Tenets of Supporting Survivors who are POC:

  • Understanding diversity within communities: there are differences between and within communities of color.
  • Understanding sexual violence: how rape and other forms of sexual violence may be off-limits as topics and that terminology may vary between cultures and communities.
  • Cultural responses: communities and individuals have different expectations and methods of reporting. For some cultures, rape can bring shame to their family and community. Others are expected to keep sexual violence private or within the family/community.
  • Legal status: some immigrant women of color become targets due to their legal status and fear retaliation or discrimination if they report.
  • Distrust of “white” systems: the majority of advocates, healthcare professionals, criminal justice officials, and mental health providers are white, and the larger systems in which these individuals operate are dominated by white-defined laws, policies and practices. Women of color have historically been ignored, devalued and, or delegitimized by these systems.
  • Trauma and adverse economic and health outcomes: There is significant historical trauma in the lives of people of color, who are also more likely to suffer multiple traumas and adverse economic and health issues than white people.
  • Barriers to access: People of color often face numerous barriers to access resources, which prevent or discourage them from reporting sexual violence or receiving supportive services. These barriers include language access; lack of diversity among services staff; transportation difficulties; and lack of service structures that honor their cultural identities, needs, beliefs, and styles of expression.
  • Resilience: People of Color- as a whole, culturally, and individually- possess resilience from surviving historical trauma to managing present-day institutionalized racism and sexism. Advocacy and support services should acknowledge how people of color thrive in spite of their harsh realities and incorporate this resilience into service structures.

Info Sheet on Sexual Violence and Women of Color