Latinas: The Unheard Survivors (2003)

Laura Zárate, Arte Sana

Latin@s are not a homogenous group but rather a composite of various subcultures that can claim over two dozen countries of origin and a rich ancestry that includes mixtures of Spanish blood with Native American, African, German, and Italian, to name a few.  The nation's Latin@ population is more diverse than ever.   
While Mexican-Americans still remain the fast growing Latin@ group, the second fastest growing group consists of primarily Central and South Americans, which doubled to 10 million in 2000. U.S. News 5/11/98, The Dallas Morning News, 05/10/200
 
Violence against Latina Girls
 
Latina girls constitute the largest minority group of girls in the country and are projected to remain so for the next 50 years.  One in three Latina girls report seriously considering suicide. The State of Hispanic Girls, National Coalition of Latino Health and Human Service Organizations (COSSMHO) 1999
 
Latina girls reported most likely to stop attending school activities and sports in order to avoid sexual harassment. Hostile Hallways, The Annual Survey on Sexual Harassment in America’s Schools, AAUW Education Foundation 1993
 
In one study, one in three Latina women, 18 to 50 years of age reported incidents of sexual abuse, more than one third experienced re-victimization and more than 80 percent of initial incidents occurred from the age of seven. Romero et. al. 1999, The prevalence and circumstance of child sexual abuse among Latina women
 
Violence against Latina Women
 
The National Violence Against Women Survey found that Latina women were less likely to report rape victimization than non-Latina women Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes. November 1998. Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey
 
A cross-sectional study conducted from February to March 1998, among 345 women attending a healthcare center in Mexico City revealed that one in every five women had experienced sexual violence in the context of an intimate relationship,19% of the women had been sexually fondled against their will at least once in their lifetime, 11% had been raped, and 5% had been forced to touch the sex organs of another person against their will. Ramos-Lira L, Saltijeral-Méndez MT, Romero-Mendoza M, Caballero-Gutiérrez MA, Martínez-Vélez NA. Sexual violence and related problems in women attending a healthcare center. Salud Publica Mex 2001;43:182-191.
 
Married Latinas were less likely than other women to immediately define their experiences of forced sex as "rape" and terminate their relationships; some viewed sex as a marital obligation. Bergen, R. K. 1996. Wife rape: Understanding the response of survivors and service providers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
 
In 2003, The Texas Council on Family Violence released a document titled, “Hispanic Texans and Domestic Violence: A Statewide Study,” which revealed that almost one in five Latinas reported being forced to have sex against their will. The study also indicated that while 77 percent of Latin@s have experienced some form of domestic violence, they are significantly less familiar with resources to help victims of domestic violence.
 
According Ron Acierno, assistant professor with the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Hispanics are less likely to report sexual assault due to the obstacles in obtaining victim services such as language barriers, cultural factors, and a fear of deportation.

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