Functioning outcomes for abused immigrant women and their children 4 months after initiating intervention
Objective. To measure the impact of shelter intervention and protection orders on the mental health functioning, resiliency, and further abuse of documented and undocumented immigrant women and their children in Houston, Texas, United States.
Methods. A prospective cohort study initiated in 2011 examined a subsample of 106 immigrant mothers, primarily from Mexico and Central America, and evaluated their functioning with a battery of 13 well-established instruments as they accessed either shelter or justice services; followed-up was conducted 4 months later to measure improvement. Data were analyzed with a series of repeated measures 2 x 2 x 2 factorial analysis of variance tests.
Results. Large effect size improvements were observed in abused immigrant women’s mental health, resiliency, and safety, regardless of whether the intervention accessed was safe shelter or justice services, and regardless of duration of shelter stay and whether or not a protection order was issued. Similarly, large effect size improvements were observed in child functioning, independent of which type of intervention, the duration of shelter stay, or the issuance of a protection order.
Conclusions. Accessing protective services has the potential to improve the health of immigrant women and their children, regardless of documentation status. Global policy for improved access and acceptability of shelter and justice services is essential to promote immigrant women’s safety and to maximize functioning of women and children.