The Tufts Community Research Center (TCRC) recently awarded a grant to the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK) to fund a community-based research project that will offer new insight into domestic violence in the Asian community.

The collaborative research among ATASK, the Institute for Community Health (Cambridge Health Alliance) and Tufts Medical Center will help define and facilitate the empowerment process for Asian women, families and individuals in greater Boston and New England.

Domestic violence is a pervasive but often silent problem among the Asian community in the United States, according to ATASK. The Boston-based nonprofit serves primarily Asian families and individuals in Massachusetts and New England who suffer from or are at risk of domestic violence.

Growing evidence points to the seriousness of domestic violence, including numerous health implications. While empowerment is a major goal of programs to combat such violence, evidence now suggests that these programs may sometimes be disempowering.

“Therefore, if programs are truly to empower women, they need to be grounded in a clear conceptualization of empowerment,” said Dawn Sauma, clinical and programs director of ATASK’s Asian Shelter and Advocacy Program.

The community-based participatory study will use focus groups to explore different perspectives on definitions, outcomes, contextual barriers and facilitators of the empowerment process.

The study findings will enhance approaches to serving survivors of domestic violence in the Asian community, noted Douglas Brugge, Ph.D., professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine and director of the Tufts Community Research Center.

The Tufts Community Research Center,  composed of students, faculty and community representatives, was developed through Tisch College to engage Tufts faculty and students from across the university in research done in collaboration with community partners. Priority is given to redressing issues of disparity, inequality and injustice in society.

Recent projects include studying and designing interventions for the health implications of living near freeways, the health risks facing new immigrants, and developing a co-operative model to ensure housecleaners have access to cleaning supplies that will not have negative effects on their health.

Originally published January 2012