Community services

Kansas Coalition Initiative Connects Latino Victims of Domestic Violence to Community Services

TOPEKA – A new statewide initiative aims to increase awareness of community services available to Latino victims of sexual and domestic violence, recognizing the unique circumstances that prevent many from accessing assistance.

The multimedia program, Together We Can Help, was launched by the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence in response to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that 34% of Latinas say they have experienced this type of violence. The campaign launching this month will be in Spanish and will focus on raising awareness of social media and other media alternatives, such as Spanish on radio broadcasts to inform services in the community.

“Through research conducted for us, we have focused this campaign on the barriers some Hispanics may face in seeking services,” said Joyce Grover, executive director of KCSDV. “Our services are free, confidential and not affiliated with law enforcement or government.”

The coalition is a non-profit organization with 25 members of sexual and domestic violence programs across the state, many of which already offer services in Spanish and other languages. They will launch a strategy that, coupled with a strong media presence, will use word of mouth and trusted community figures to help spread information.

Grover also pointed to the Kansas Crisis hotline, which provides service in Spanish and other languages.

“This is an opportunity to expand Hispanic communities’ awareness of our services, especially during the pandemic,” Grover said.

Puente Marketing, a Kansas City-based company, created and researched the plan with the central idea of ​​”comadres and compadres”, described by Norberto Ayala-Flores, main owner of Puente Marketing, as a cross between a best friend and a godfather.

“The slogan – Juntos le ayudamos – makes KCSDV and its member organizations an ally of all comadres and compadres,” Ayala-Flores said.

Another reason KCSDV focuses on a community-based approach is that many will not report these crimes due to complications with their or their family’s immigration status. This was one of the main concerns of opponents of a new law prohibiting sanctuary ordinances.

Lindsie Ford, a Kansas lawyer, said the trust of the community and its neighbors can play a major role in ensuring that the Latino community knows how and where they can seek the services they need to find safety. Ford also noted that many of these women may experience threats or coercion from their abuser.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 34.8% of Latinas say they have experienced some form of sexual coercion, rape, or both. Abusers often use surviving immigrant status to exert control over their victims, Ford said.

“When applying for access to the United States, a fiancé visa may require a sponsoring citizen to vouch for their loved one,” Ford said. “Many abusers hold this over the heads of their spouses. Even those who have not sponsored their partner’s access to the country will use deportation threats as a tool to force the victim into compliance.

Ford added that some immigrants may not understand their rights, hence the need for programs that ensure a safe path to safety.

It’s a similar goal for the Mattie Rhodes Center, which serves more than 1,000 people in the Kansas City area, including Johnson and Wyandotte counties. More than two-thirds of those they serve are from Latin America and speak only Spanish.

Their Nuevo Dia Domestic Violence Program, launched in June 2000, pays similar attention to the unique circumstances that prevent these women from reporting crimes or using resources to escape dangerous homes.

“Community support can make the difference between pursuing a safe and abuse-free future for all survivors,” Ford said.