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National Community Outreach Project Latinas and Sexual Violence. Part 1. Population Overview and Projections. By 2050, nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Hispanic (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008).

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population overview and projections
Population Overview and Projections
  • By 2050, nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Hispanic (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008).
  • According to a 2004 survey, one in six females age 13 and older will suffer some form of sexual violence (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2004).
  • The number of Hispanic females who have experienced some form of sexual violence could reach 10.8 million by 2050.

A snapshot of Hispanics in the United States in 2008 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010):

  • 66% were of Mexican background.
  • 9% were of Puerto Rican background.
  • 3.4% were of Cuban background.
  • 3.4% were of Salvadoran background.
  • 2.8% were of Dominican background.
  • 15.4% were of some other Central American, South American, or other Hispanic or Latin American origin.
alternative terms
Alternative Terms

“Hispanic” and “Latino” are not identical terms.

  • Hispanic: Used most often in government publications.
  • Latino: Generally used by grassroots organizations and community-based initiatives.
alternative terms cont
Alternative Terms (cont.)

Existe Ayuda materials use “Latina/o.”

immigrant references
Immigrant References
  • The phrases “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” both include politically charged words that many victim advocates see as dehumanizing labels.
  • The phrase “undocumented immigrant” is often preferred.
immigrant assumptions
Immigrant Assumptions
  • It is important that victim advocates do not make assumptions about the immigration status of those they assist.
  • Most Latina/o youth are not immigrants; two-thirds were born in the United States (Pew Hispanic Center, 2009).

Challenge 1. Lack of bilingual and bicultural direct service staff and volunteers.

challenges cont
Challenges (cont.)

Challenge 2. Lack of bilingual and bicultural trainers.

challenges cont1
Challenges (cont.)

Challenge 3. Lack of bilingual and bicultural materials.

latinas and sexual violence
Latinas and Sexual Violence
  • Latina girls reported that they were more likely to avoid further harassment than to seek help and or report (American Association of University Women, 2000).
  • Married Latinas were less likely to immediately define their experiences of forced sex as "rape" and terminate their relationships; some viewed sex as a marital obligation (Bergen, 1996).
latinas and sexual violence cont
Latinas and Sexual Violence (cont.)
  • Female farmworkers (or “Campesinas”) are 10 times more vulnerable than others to sexual assault and harassment at work (Lopez-Treviño, 1995).
  • According to a 2009 report, 77 percent of Latinas said that sexual harassment was a major problem in the workplace (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2009).
cultural considerations
Cultural Considerations
  • Addressing cultural considerations is necessary for the development of protocols that eliminate access barriers and enhance outreach.
  • Generalizations should also be avoided, especially when working with Latinas/os who are third-generation and longer residents of the United States.
cultural considerations cont
Cultural Considerations (cont.)

When developing outreach strategies and materials, consider—

  • Language.
  • Gender.
  • Level of acculturation.
  • Education.
gender expectations
Gender Expectations
  • Ongoing struggle between Latinos (who are encouraged to be sexually active) and Latinas (who are socialized to avoid the advances of males).
  • “Amarra tu perra porque mis perros andan sueltos.” (Tie your female dog because my male dogs are loose.)
good girls and el respeto
Good Girls and “el Respeto”
  • Good girls are expected to know how to make oneself be respected (“hacerse respetar”) to avoid being raped.
  • In some Latina/o communities “le faltó el respeto” (“he disrespected her”) is another way of referring to a sexual assault.
  • “Tengo suerte que me ha durado.” (I am lucky that she has lasted.)
emphasis on virginity
Emphasis on Virginity
  • "Me siento sucia y dañada." (I feel damaged and dirty.)
  • "He avergonzado a mi familia." (I have shamed my family.)
  • “Ningún hombre querrá casarse conmigo." (No man will ever want to marry me.)
emphasis on virginity cont
Emphasis on Virginity (cont.)
  • The loss of control over a precious rite of passage does not need to define a survivor.
  • Being raped as a virgin does not automatically imply the loss of virginity to rape.
understanding culpa blame
Understanding “Culpa” (Blame)

“Por algo me pasó.” (This happened to me for a reason.)

language and confianza trust
Language and “Confianza” (Trust)
  • Trust may improve the survivor’s comfort level when addressing very difficult and often taboo issues.
  •  An advocate can build trust by—
    • Speaking the same language.
    • Having a similar cultural heritage.
    • Demonstrating awareness of pertinent cultural issues.
impact through a cultural lens
Impact Through a Cultural Lens

Survivors often fear how the assault may affect their—

  • Standing in the community.
  • Feelings of self-worth.
  • Reproductive options.
  • Future marriage prospects.
  • Future intimate partners/relationships.
addressing shame
Addressing Shame
  • Latina/o victims can benefit from shame-releasing exercises that allow them to assign responsibility for sexual violence to the offender(s) (Fontes, 2007).
  •  For example, a “Testimonio” is a written or oral recounting of the victim's story that may allow others to bear witness to the trauma suffered by the survivor (Aron, 1992).
diversity of the spanish language
Diversity of the Spanish Language

The United States—

  • Has the third largest Spanish-speaking population after Spain and Mexico.
  • Is home to residents with Spanish dialects from South America, Central America, the Caribbean, North America, and other Spanish-speaking regions of the world.
language considerations
Language Considerations

The most frequently reported barrier keeping Latinas from needed services was language—either not being able to speak English or not having an interpreter (Murdaugh et al., 2004).

language terms
Language Terms
  • Limited English Proficiency or Proficient (LEP).
  • English Language Learner (ELL).
language access laws and lep gov
Language Access Laws and
  • Executive Order 13166 requires federal agencies and state and local agencies receiving federal assistance to develop guidelines guaranteeing accessibility to their programs by persons with LEP.
  • U.S. Department of Justice LEP Guidance:
  • LEP Web site from the Federal Interagency Working Group on Limited English Proficiency:
victim service access
Victim Service Access

English Language Learners require service access to—

  • A crisis line at the moment of need.
  • Information regarding the rape exam.
  • The various levels of supportive services and legal advocacy that an agency may offer.
victim service access cont
Victim Service Access (cont.)

Bilingual personnel are crucial for eliminating access barriers at every stage of the help-seeking process (ALAS, 2004).

use of interpreters
Use of Interpreters
  • All staff must know how to use an interpreter properly, whether the interpreter is a professional (such as an agency employee) or a non-professional (such as a friend of the survivor).
  • Being a fluent Spanish speaker is not enough. Interpreters should also be familiar with and respectful of Spanish language regional differences.
professional interpreters
Professional Interpreters

When working with professional interpreters—

  • Verify the interpreter’s experience with, or knowledge of, different Latin American dialects.
  • Meet with the interpreter 15 to 30 minutes before the appointment.
  • When meeting with the client, pause every three sentences or less.
  • Look at and talk directly to the Spanish-speaking client, not the interpreter.
non professional interpreters
Non-Professional Interpreters

When working with non-professional or acquaintance interpreters, consider—

  • Competence.
  • Confidentiality.
  • Appropriateness.
  • Possible conflicts of interest.
non professional interpreters risks
Non-Professional Interpreters: Risks
  • Confidentiality may be compromised.
  • Feelings of embarrassment or shame may be made worse.
  • The survivor may be less willing to share details when discussing his/her assault.
non professional interpreters ethical issues
Non-Professional Interpreters: Ethical Issues
  • Never use children as interpreters.
  • Using family, friends, or other survivors can cause secondary victimization. This can create additional problems for the agency and victim.
downside of using interpreters
Downside of Using Interpreters
  • Communicating the trauma of sexual violence through an interpreter can make the help-seeking process even more difficult.
  • Interpretation disrupts the smooth communication of events and sentiments.
  • Outside professional interpreter services can be costly.
specialized lay interpreters
Specialized Lay Interpreters
  • Band with other victim service agencies to train lay interpreters.
  • Recruit Spanish-speaking college students as volunteers who are fluent or at least familiar with your target area’s dialects.

To reach an audience that is more comfortable reading Spanish—

  • Translate English language materials.
  • Adapt materials already available in Spanish.
  • Develop original materials in Spanish.
downside of translations
Downside of Translations

Myth: If the English language version works, then you can simply translate it into Spanish.


  • The ideas and concepts of the original version may not translate culturally.
  • The translation may be too formal or at a reading level too advanced for the target population.
  • If the material was not originally written with translation in mind, it requires careful editing and revision to be useful for the target audiences.
machine translation
Machine Translation
  • It may be tempting to rely on Web sites that translate text into various languages because it’s quick and often free.
  • This can be problematic when dealing with the specialized terminology of sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy.
machine translation risks
Machine Translation: Risks
  • Not accurately translating —There are some idioms, culture-specific phrases, and grammatical forms that only a native speaker can understand.
  • Not adjusting for the English-to-Spanish translation expansion rate (16% increase in word count).
  • Not using special Spanish characters that are often required in a translated document (such as the accent mark).
machine translation errors
Machine Translation: Errors
  • “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” was translated to “meses conciencia asalto sexual” (or “months awareness sexual assault”).
  • The specific sexual assault context of the term “grooming” was absent in the literal hygiene reference translation “aseo.”
  • “Acquaintance rape” was literally translated to “conocido violación” (or “known rape”).
machine translation possible consequences
Machine Translation: Possible Consequences
  • Agencies that use machine translation services often cannot understand the output and therefore cannot verify that it is correct.
  • Agencies may suffer credibility issues because of incorrect or incoherent text.
original materials
Original Materials

Original Spanish-language and bilingual materials—

  • Convey information in a manner that is culturally relevant and fluid.
  • Ensure that agencies transmit the intended messages and information effectively.
  • Convey respect for cultural diversity and ethnic identity, even to bilingual speakers who may be proficient in English.
original materials cont
Original Materials (cont.)

Considerations for developing original materials in Spanish include—

  • Economic and education level.
  • Gender.
  • Immigration status.
  • Country of origin/dialect.
  • Acculturation level.
  • Attitude/awareness differences.

All agency materials and online content should describe in Spanish the bilingual services offered.

  • Services offered in Spanish – “serviciosque se ofrecen en español.”
  • 24-hour hotline – “línea de ayuda disponible las 24 horas del día.”
  • Crisis counseling – “asesoría o consejería para personas en crisis.”
  • Support groups – “grupos de apoyo.”
  • Hospital accompaniment – “acompañamiento al hospital.”
  • Legal advocacy – “asesoramiento legal.”
a glossary resource
A Glossary Resource

Existe Ayuda’s Sexual Assault Glossary: