Existe Ayuda National Outreach Project




Existe Ayuda Partners

Project Support Map

The Need for the Existe Ayuda Project

Existe Ayuda Background/History

The Role of Online Work

Pilot Testing and Feedback

Existe Ayuda Purpose/Audience

The Products

Regional Product Demonstration Partners


The Need for the Existe Ayuda Project

By July 2050, the projected Hispanic population of the United States is expected to be 132.8 million, or 30% of the total population by that date. Nearly one in three US residents will be Hispanic. (U.S. Census Bureau. "An Older and More Diverse Nation by Midcentury" 2008).

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2004, one in six females age 13 and older are victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assaults. Based on the U.S. Census, Hispanic female population projections, and the one-in-six victimization estimate, by the year 2050, the number of females of Hispanic origin who have experienced some form of sexual violence could reach 10.8 million.

Considering the levels of underreporting, the various types of crimes committed against Latinos and Latinas as people of color and immigrants in particular, the current trends of violence will continue, and with the anticipated Latino population growth there will logically be more victims of (all kinds of) crime. There are a rapidly increasing number of underserved Latina/o victims of sexual and domestic violence in the United States. This is due in part to limited funds, the lack of bilingual staff, Spanish language resources, and effective outreach programs.

While the Latino population grows across the nation, many communities lack the resources and bilingual victim advocates who can address the needs of Spanish-speaking victims. Limited funds have kept many victim service agencies in a state of overextension, with the demand exceeding limited service capabilities.  The majority of staff and volunteers do their best with what resources are available to meet the immediate service and needs of victims. For example, many rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters do not have the resources and/or funding to have a part-time or full time bilingual advocate staff member.

Without a consolidated national effort to support and upgrade the bilingual human resource and program effectiveness of sexual assault agencies, many more individuals, families, and communities across the nation will continue to suffer the devastating impact of ongoing sexual violence, and sexual assault trauma and re-victimization.

Existe Ayuda Background/History

The Existe Ayuda project has been created for and by Latina victim advocates and allies. In 2003, a group of Latina victim advocates from across the nation got together and created an Internet forum of support, technical assistance, and resource development. The Existe Ayuda project is designed to build on established online networking relationships with Latina advocates who work to improve the state of Spanish-language victim advocacy.

The original Existe Ayuda Goal was to produce replicable Spanish-language outreach tools and training resources to improve the cultural competence of service providers and improve the accessibility of services for Spanish-speaking victims of sexual violence. 

Thirty-six agencies including state sexual assault coalitions, rape crisis centers and shelters for homeless immigrants have been involved in the Existe Ayuda project.

The Role of Online Work

Seventeen agency representatives from fifteen states were able to share ideas, translate text, offer content revisions, and give feedback using an online project listserv. Bilingual and bicultural victim service agency staff or Promotoras/Community Health Workers from diverse Latino backgrounds from Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, México, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela contributed to the creation of a uniform, inclusive Spanish-language context for the outreach products.

Pilot Testing and Feedback

Twenty-nine agencies across the nation collaborated to help pilot test the Existe Ayuda project products during conferences, agency meetings and local community gatherings. The products were tested in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

Both the value of the materials created and the impact of the project experience are best reflected in the following sample process survey quotes. These quotes come from the online creative group members who participated in the pilot-testing phase:

"I see this project as a third hand for those Latinas that are translating existing materials that are not culturally appropriate for their communities.   Pretty soon they are going to have access to high quality materials that will make their lives easier and possible and help them achieve longevity in the movement."

"Existe Ayuda should be an ongoing project. The need for culturally appropriate materials regarding sexual violence in Spanish is overwhelming. Contrary with the stereotype regarding Latinos and sexual violence, our community is ready and willing to talk about sexual violence. We need to arm ourselves with the right tools to send the correct message and Arte Sana has proved how to achieve this."

Beyond the product deliverables and programmed activities, this OVC-funded project has impacted the state of Latina victim advocacy on national and individual levels.

Existe Ayuda Purpose/Audience

The Goal of the Existe Ayuda project is to produce and disseminate replicable Spanish-language outreach tools and training resources to help improve the cultural competence of service providers and improve the accessibility of services for Spanish-speaking victims of sexual violence.    

While we encourage only those who are fluent in the Spanish-language - speak, read, and write in Spanish - to present or train in Spanish, the Existe Ayuda outreach products may be used by non-Spanish speaking victim advocates and allied professionals. Existe Ayuda's ultimate goals are to be a source of information for Spanish-speaking victims of sexual assault and Spanish-speaking communities, to promote awareness about sexual violence in the Latino communities, and to assist victim advocates in communicating with Spanish monolinguals about where to find help in their language of preference.

The Products

Eleven products were developed during the initial phase of the Existe Ayuda (help exists) National Outreach Project:

A Promotora or Community Health Worker (CHW) training presentation on sexual assault issues (Spanish)

The purpose of this presentation is to offer an overview of sexual violence and victim/survivor needs.   Its purpose is to promote greater awareness among Spanish-speaking populations, about sexual violence and existing services.

A Victim Advocate training presentation on effective Latina outreach in (English)

The purpose of this presentation is to address cultural and linguistic considerations for improving outreach into Latino communities. Its purpose is to promote greater awareness and tools to remove access barriers for Latina victims.  

Public Service Announcement on Sexual Harassment in the workplace (Spanish)

The purpose of this Spanish-language Public Service Announcement is to promote greater awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace. It defines sexual harassment, addresses some of its impact, and points out the victim's rights.

Public Service Announcement on Intimate Partner Sexual Violence (Spanish)

The purpose of this Public Service Announcement is to promote greater awareness about Intimate Partner Sexual Violence. It defines intimate partner sexual violence, addresses cultural assumptions and explains victims' rights.

Answering Machine Script for rape crisis centers and state sexual assault coalitions (Spanish)

The purpose of the Answering Machine script is to provide non Spanish-speaking staff a communication tool to offer potential Spanish monolingual callers the necessary information in order to access help.  

Fact sheet on Latinas and sexual violence (English)

The purpose of this fact sheet is to promote greater awareness about the issues affecting Latina victims of sexual assault.  

Fact sheet on sexual assault (Spanish)

The purpose of this language fact sheet is to promote greater awareness of sexual assault within English as a Second Language (ESL) and English Language Learner (ELL) communities.

Glossary on sexual assault terms (Bilingual)

The purpose of this document is to assist in building consistent and uniform sexual assault victim service terminology in Spanish.

Glossary of human trafficking terms (Bilingual)

The purpose of this glossary is to offer internationally recognized Spanish language translations of human trafficking terms and share well "street language" terms used by those who traffic in persons.

A Palm card on victim rights (Spanish)

The purpose of the palm card is to promote awareness about sexual assault victim rights; including the right to services regardless of race, economic status, language preference, or residency status.

A handout on sexual harassment (Spanish)

The purpose of the handout is to promote awareness among Spanish-speaking populations about sexual harassment and victim rights.  The handout provides a definition of sexual harassment and steps for addressing and reporting it.


Though the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" are often used interchangeably in American English, they are not identical terms. In the 1970, the term "Hispanic" began to be used by the U.S. Census Bureau. In 1997, a Federal Register Notice provided revised racial and ethnic definitions in which "Hispanic or Latino" replaced the single term. "Hispani" is an older term used more often in governmental publications and reports; it also carries a direct reference to Spain. While those who view Spain as the mother country may embrace and identify with this term, others who live and/or address the impact of colonization may reject it. The term "Latino" is generally used by grassroots organizations and community-based initiatives that embrace a shared Latin American or Latino Americano heritage. For the purpose of the documents developed, the terms "Latina" and "Latinas/os" have been utilized in content text and "Hispanic" in reference text.


The terms promotora, animadora, community health advisor and lay health advisor are all used to refer to workers who are indigenous to the community and who serve and train through a community-based organization. Some states provide statewide training and certification for the Promotor(a) or Community Health Worker (CHW).

The Image

The image is an artistic rendering of the chicahuatzli stamp from ancient Mexico, which means rattle or rain stick in Nauhuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Rattles and other instruments were used in ceremonial dances, which at times included hundreds of dancers who moved in collective synchrony to promote the health and wellbeing of the community. We have chosen this image to honor our cultural heritage and to symbolize the engaging purpose of these documents.


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