Black And Minority Ethnic (BAME) Communities

Victims/survivors of domestic abuse from BME Communities may experience additional barriers to disclosing abuse and seeking support. As a result, abuse may escalate. Research by the NSPCC suggests that victims from BME communities continue to live in abusive situations for longer, which negatively impacts the victim and children living in households.

Some religious and cultural communities may encourage men and women to fulfill roles specific to their gender, which may encourage rigid expectations and pressure to comply. Though some individuals may use cultural practices as an excuse to exert pressure and control, abuse is never an accepted practice.

There are some specific forms of abuse which may be perpetrated within those BME communities where honor plays a vital role. These include honor based violenceforced marriages and FGM.

The violence and abuse can be perpetrated by not only the spouse or partner but also by the extended families and the community. Family and community members may be complicit in this abuse or may wish to deal with it by themselves and not involve other agencies.

BME victims experiencing domestic violence and abuse may be reluctant or prevented from seeking help for many reasons:

  • Language barriers
  • Fear they will not be believed or understood
  • Limited access to or little knowledge of finances
  • Lack of awareness of what constitutes domestic abuse and the impact this has on their children
  • Lack of awareness of the laws governing Domestic abuse and the response they can expect from police/courts/services
  • Fear of discrimination by statutory services, such as police and social services, based upon previous experiences or beliefs
  • Fear of being sent back overseas which could cause further shame to the family’s honor
  • Fear about their children’s (mainly daughters) ability or prospect to marry
  • Fear they will become isolated from family and community bonds if they seek help/leave relationship
  • Concern that professionals may normalise abuse within their background or culture
  • Fear they may lose residency in the UK, where immigration status is an issue. See No Recourse to Public Funds.

Specialist Domestic Abuse Services are trained to understand and respond effectively to the complex range of fears and barriers victims from BME communities may experience.

Culturally specific programmes and group activities can be accessed which aim to recognise the above concerns, as well as safe and impartial language interpretation services where needed. Local Specialist Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Support Providers, provide leaflets in a range of community languages. This can be accessed via the UAVA Website. The following poster may be helpful for practitioners wishing to confirm the language spoken by an individual.

For more information and resources see or resources page.

Black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and dementia

More than 25,000 older black and minority ethnic (BAME) people live with dementia in the UK, in part due to vascular risk factors such as hypertension often found in African-Caribbean and South Asian UK populations. In other ethnic groups such as Irish and Jewish, there is a demographically-older population so with the link between age and dementia, prevalence is likely to be higher. What additional awareness do those working in social care need to have to meet the particular needs of these older people?

Getting to know the person with dementia

For some people, the experience of what it means to live with dementia will be unfamiliar. They may not have seen or cared for someone with dementia in their family if they left their country of origin for work when young, for example. Knowledge of dementia and dementia services is limited in other BAME groups (2). For example, in one Chinese community, negative perceptions of dementia resulted from poorly-translated terms which give dementia the meaning of ‘lost intelligence disease’. A perceived or actual cultural bias in assessment tests and diagnosis may limit their value or appropriateness for some BAME older people (3).

Engagement with social and health care services may be resisted by some BAME communities because they fear discrimination or they find services are difficult to access. Chinese older people said they feared a relative in care would be the only person from that community and thus be isolated. A delay in seeking support may mean the person is not in contact with services until disease is advanced or the person or family is in ‘crisis’.

There is evidence that minority ethnic carers are more likely to be isolated from mainstream services. Some may view using a service as a source of shame (4). In Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism the duty of care is apparent or is regarded as a ‘test from God’ (4). There is stigma around dementia is some cultures; it may be regarded as a punishment for past misdemeanor’s or a family member with dementia may damage the marriage prospects of a young relative.

There’s evidence that people from BAME communities are not sure where or how to find information about dementia. This is exacerbated by language barriers or when people have lost cognitive skills, or if online information is not available in community languages. People may confuse the symptoms of dementia with ‘normal ageing’ and not seek the support that is available. That is why access to sector organisations which can support navigation of the system is so important.

Community navigators can support staff that lack specific cultural knowledge as well as individuals and families from that community. Establishing links with culturally-appropriate voluntary and community groups as well as interpreters who can support communication with families will provide the opportunity to discuss diagnosis and treatment options. There are examples of good practice in dementia care for those from BAME communities but expertise needs to be shared more widely across the provider sectors (5).

Finding Patience

Understanding the cultural heritage of individuals living with dementia, enables high quality, safe, person centered care that focuses on the individual rather than the disease, and an understanding of challenges that may be rooted in a person’s cultural background.

‘Finding Patience’ opens the door for health and care professionals to start talking about cultural sensitivities that may result in a reluctance to come forward and talk about concerns. It aims to encourage health and care professionals to break down barriers in order to reach people who may otherwise go undiagnosed or struggle in isolation to provide care within family units.