Trauma, immigration, and sexual health among Latina women: Implications for maternal–child well-being and reproductive justice

Author(s): Lisa R. FORTUNA, Carmen Rosa NORONA, Michelle V. PORCHE, Cathi TILLMAN, Pratima A. PATIL, Ye WANG, Sheri LAPATIN MARKLE, Margarita ALEGRIA

https://doi.org/10.1002/imhj.21805

ABSTRACT

Latina immigrant women are vulnerable to traumatic stress and sexual health disparities. Without autonomy over their reproductive health and related decision‐making, reproductive justice is elusive. We analyzed behavioral health data from 175 Latina immigrant participants (M age = 35; range = 18–64) of the International Latino Research Partnership (ILRP) study. We used descriptive and inferential statistics to compare immigrant mothers of minor children to those without, regarding their psychological and reproductive health, and correlates of past exposure to sexual trauma. Over one third (38%) of ILRP participants had minor children, and 58% had citizenship in their host country. The rate for sexual assault was 30 and 61%, respectively, for physical assault; these rates were similarly high for women with and without minor children. Women who reported sexual assault scored significantly higher for depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance‐abuse screens. Odds of experiencing sexual assault was highest for women who experienced physical assault (odds ratio = 10.74), and for those from the Northern Triangle (odds ratio = 8.41). Subgroups of Latina migrant mothers are vulnerable to traumatic stress and related sexual and mental health risks. Given these findings, we frame the implications in a reproductive justice framework and consider consequences for caregiver–child well‐being.

Tags: Latin America, United States, Women, Immigrants, Anxiety, Stressors, Mental disorders, PTSD, Sexual violence, Motherhood, Children, Vulnerability

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