About the Toolkit
Need for Materials in Spanish
As the number of Latinas/os in the general U.S. population increases, so too will their numbers as underserved victims of sexual and domestic violence. Spanish monolingual Latina/o victims of sexual violence have inequitable access to victim services. Bilingual Web sites and information in Spanish on victims’ rights and services are scarce, bilingual victim advocates are few, and turnover is high.
According to a study cited in the Journal of Family Violence, the most frequently reported important barrier that kept Spanish-speaking or bilingual Latinas from getting needed services in a southeastern state was language, either not being able to speak English or not having a translator (Murdaugh et al., 2004). Some Latinas are also unable or unwilling to report crime victimization because they are unaware of the services available to them and/or fear that seeking help will harm their immigration status or that of their family members.
Of special concern is the lack of existing criteria to determine the level of bilingual services available in a given agency along with the methods used to inform the public of these services. A survivor or loved one who has picked up a brochure or searched the Internet for services is in a state of need that requires the most accurate information regarding what exactly a center can offer Spanish-speaking victims. In the United States, the level of accessibility and types of victim services available to survivors of sexual violence varies by state, rape crisis center, and Web site.
Subsequently, information for rape crisis and dual program centers that is printed in program brochures or posted on Web sites may not always reflect what is actually available for Spanish-speaking victims. All of these factors reinforce the need to publicly share updated information about Spanish language services at every available opportunity.
The majority of staff and volunteers do their best to meet the needs of victims with the resources they have. However, limited funds have kept many victim service agencies over extended, with demand far exceeding limited service capabilities. The problem is not only that agencies cannot hire the number of full-time bilingual and bicultural staff they need, but that once hired, these staff do not have adequate access to outreach materials and presentations in Spanish.
Without a consolidated national effort to support and upgrade the bilingual efforts of sexual assault agencies, many more individuals, families, and communities will continue to suffer the devastating impact of ongoing sexual violence and sexual assault trauma and re-victimization. In light of the gaps in services and information on Spanish-speaking resources, Arte Sana has strived to identify ways to support those agencies that are presently working to address the needs of their Spanish-speaking communities, as well as those agencies that are seeking ways to expand their outreach.