Press Releases
August 18, 2008
Nuestras Voces: Latina victim advocates gather in San Antonio to address sexual violence in the Latino community

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- On August 18th & 19th over 100 victim service advocates, professionals, community activists and artists came together in San Antonio, TX for "Nuestras Voces / Our Voices: Collaboration and Transformation en la Comunidad.” The event, organized by Arte Sana (art heals), was a national capacity-building training aimed at addressing sexual violence in the Latino community.

Via traditional workshops as well as art-based presentations, Latina experts from around the country shared their experiences and voiced their opinions on collaboration and transformation in the community. The goals of this two-day capacity-building event included: eliminating victim service barriers and engaging our communities as active partners in prevention, risk reduction and advocacy efforts. The conference also aimed to improve outreach to marginalized Latina@ victims of sexual and intimate partner violence, and help build effective connections with Latin@ communities at large.

Some of the bilingual topics covered during the two-day event: how to engage Latino men in anti-violence prevention, understanding the influence of gender role socialization on Mexican Americans’ perceptions of sexual violence, and the use of art as an assessment and intervention tool for children who have witnessed domestic violence.

Barbara Blaine, the founder of Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), along with Barbara Garcia-Boehland, of the local SNAP chapter, presented the keynote address: “Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Latino Community.” Yolanda Rodríguez-Escobar of Mujeres Unidas Contra el SIDA presented the luncheon keynote. Other presenters included Mónica Ramírez Guerrero of Esperanza: The Immigrant Women's Legal Initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Marta Sanchez, an artist and activist from Panama, and Sergeant Christian Burchell of the Bexar County Sheriff's Office in San Antonio.

In acknowledging the difficulty in retaining Latina victim advocates in anti-violence work, Founding Executive Director Laura Zárate noted that the challenges in victim services correlate to the realities we live as Latin@s in this country. In her opening remarks, Ms. Zárate recognized, “even in this, our nation’s most significant presidential election, the absence of our issues and our voice are indicative of the exclusion that most of us experience as we struggle to assure inclusive, respectful, and culturally competent treatment of our communities.”

Members of the Alianza Latina Against Sexual Violence (ALAS) were also present and participated in panel discussions throughout the conference.

During this year of economic downturn, Arte Sana affirmed the financial hardship faced by many victim service advocates by offering scholarships to 30% of attendees. The response from participants was overwhelmingly positive. The following are a few of the comments received from attendees:

“I feel it truly was a great experience to hear Latinas present and to be in a room with Latinas whom are doing the same work as I. It helps motivate you to continue your work.”

“Excellent training! It reminds you that change is possible and that SI SE PUEDE Y SE DEBE – Gracias!!”!

“Most conferences have 1-2 workshops on Latino issues. It is great to attend a diverse Latina conference which covers gender. Great workshops, location, food, everything. Good job!”

“It was a wonderful experience being around so many empowered Latinas!”

“Yes. For me what was has been the most powerful is the overlap of healing, art, social services.”

“Absolutely. It is an honor to exist in the same time and space with other Latinas/Latinos. The energy is awesome. Dialog often is more within the safe space of Latinos united for a common cause.”

About ALAS

Initiated in February 2004, the Alianza Latina en Contra la Agresión Sexual or ALAS, (Latina Alliance Against Sexual Aggression) is a national Latina professional resource-sharing group that focuses on cultural competency, bilingual material development, training and policy issues related to underserved Latina survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence. ALAS members have a collective experience of over 25 years in the anti-violence field and the majority of them have bilingual skills that include speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish. As Latina advocates of varying ages, levels of experience, personal backgrounds, and specific Latina cultural origins, we celebrate the diversity within our culture and are committed to help make risk reduction and victim service information more accessible to Spanish-speaking Latina/os.

About Arte Sana

Arte Sana (art heals) is a nationwide organization dedicated to helping underserved survivors of racial and gender-based violence. As a 501(c)3 non-profit group based in Austin, TX, Arte Sana promotes healing and empowerment through the arts and community education. Founded in 2001, Arte Sana believes that violence risk reduction programs and services must be culturally competent and linguistically appropriate and are committed to the value of indigenous leadership and collaboration sin fronteras (without borders).


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