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Latin@ Communities

Latin@ immigrant and refugee survivors have unique advocacy needs. They may have had experiences that affect their sense of safety and security. It may be more difficult for these survivors to obtain services because of language barriers as well as cultural norms and beliefs. Advocacy efforts must address these barriers to ensure all survivors have access to services. The following information is intended for advocates who work with Latin@ immigrant and refugee communities.

The Cultivating Fear report by Human Rights Watch (2012) found that of the 52 farmworker women interviewed, all had either experienced sexual violence or harassment and/or knew of someone who had. While these women shared what had happened to them, there are many survivors who are reluctant to talk about their own experiences of sexual violence out of fear, shame, and guilt.

Specific advocacy considerations for working with Latin@ immigrant and refugee victims and survivors of sexual assault:

  • Make a connection with the survivor. Relationship-building is key. Advocates can help build relationships by listening and, when appropriate, offering a range of information and services.
  • Small steps and patience are needed. Remember that safety and security are always at the forefront for these survivors.
  • Be approachable and welcoming. Keep in mind that a survivor may come to you in different ways than "calling the crisis line." For example, a survivor may approach an advocate in a laundromat while washing clothes.
  • Silence around sexual violence can be a challenge. A survivors shame or guilt about sexual assault can outweigh the need to reach out for help.
  • Find ways to reduce the stigma of talking about sexual violence, such as initiating conversations about healthy relationships and self-care.
  • Sexual assault is a crime whether a survivor has legal status to be in the United States or not. It is important for each agency to have legal services information specific to immigrant and refugee survivors.
  • Collaboration is critical. Build relationships with other community partners and organizations that work with immigrant and refugee communities.
  • There is no "one size fits all" approach. Ask questions about and be aware of cultural, family, and community norms and beliefs that may affect experiences and healing.

We have compiled additional resources to help you in your work. Together we can provide more comprehensive and culturally relevant advocacy efforts to support your work with Latin@ immigrant and refugee communities in Washington State. Please contact us at (360) 754-7583 or info@wcsap.org with any questions.


Resources

WCSAP Resources

Online Resources

Reviewed: May 9th, 2016