Exploring Culture

Recognizing culture and the influence it has in a family’s experiences is essential. Culture is the a complex system of ways we as a group of people who share experiences give meaning to our lives. It includes our worldview, behavior patterns, art, beliefs, language, institutions, and other products of human work and thought. Its many aspects are dynamic and diverse. We may often bring assumptions and misperceptions about culture into our work. 

Culture is often contradictory, potentially carrying values that can be both oppressive and nurturing. Culture develops and continues to evolve in relation to changing social and political contexts, based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexuality, gender, religion, age, class, disability status, immigration status, education, geography, special interests, and time (1). 

Why is understanding culture important?

Here are several examples of how culture can impact our work with families experiencing domestic violence:

  • Culture can shape a person’s beliefs of the violence.
  • Culture may inform our response and interventions.
  • Culture may impact accessibility and present barriers to service.
  • Culture can influence how children are perceived in the family.

The first step to valuing diversity and culture is valuing and understanding our own culture. It doesn't matter our role in supporting families, dedicating time to exploring and understanding our own culture, as well as our beliefs and values, is essential to safely and effectively responding to intimate partner violence.


  1. Saduskly, j. (2010) Safe Passage: Supervised Safe Exchange for Battered Women and Their Children