Nuestras voces/Our Voices: Wise Latinas en la lucha

The State of Latin@ Victim Advocacy



Link to View a larger image of the map
To download the map
Color Chart

About the Teal and Purple-colored Map
Why focus of state coalitions?
Spanish-speaking Internet Populations
Beware of Assumptions
Problems with non-human translations
Second language option or right
Additional Resources
Background Information and Position Statements
How you can help la causa for improved access

About the Teal and Purple-colored Map

In September 2009, Arte Sana reviewed website content in the sixteen states that according to the U.S Census Bureau had at least half a million Hispanic residents. The combined total Hispanic residents from these sixteen states alone included 39 million.

The states with at least a half-million Hispanic residents include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. Source: 2008 “Hispanic Americans by the Numbers” report by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Arte Sana's review of state coalitions revealed that only two of the state domestic violence coalitions and six state sexual assault coalitions offered easy-to-access information for survivors in Spanish on their website, that had been translated by a person.

The Colors

The Resource Sharing Project (RSP) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) polled state, territory, and tribal coalitions from 2000-2001 and found that the color teal was the color of preference for sexual assault awareness and prevention. April was identified as the preferred month to coordinate national sexual assault awareness activities. The first Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) was observed nationally in April 2001, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Arte Sana offered the first bilingual SAAM e-toolkit nationally in 2003 to promote outreach to and engagement of Latin@ communities in SAAM activities.

According to The Domestic Violence Awareness Project page on, the exact history of the purple ribbon is difficult to pinpoint. The first Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) was observed in October 1987. DVAM evolved from the "Day of Unity" conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The color purple and the purple ribbon were adopted as symbols to raise awareness about the crime of domestic violence (DV) or intimate partner violence, remember victims who lost their lives, honor survivors, and connect those who work to end violence.

These two colors have been used to represent state coalition websites that include previously translated SA or DV (IPV) information in Spanish. Those states with half a million or more Hispanic residents are identified by a tan color, and orange is used to mark those state coalitions that rely on online machine or non-human translations for second language access to their websites.

The aim of the map is to draw attention to the growing unmet needs of Spanish-speaking survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence, by focusing on those states with the largest Hispanic populations.

For the possible color combinations please see the "Color Chart" located under the map.

Why focus of state coalitions?

State coalitions play a key role in advancing the rights of victims and also serve as a collective voice to prevent gender-based violence. State coalitions model outreach and collaboration efforts through their training and technical assistance programs, materials, public awareness campaigns, websites, and can set the tone for inclusion efforts. They offer specific training to those who will work directly with victims of sexual and intimate partner violence, offer critical public policy advocacy, and in some cases serve as pass through entities with state funding for direct service programs.

As of April 2010, two-thirds of the States and Territories have separate statewide domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions and one-third have a single or dual sexual assault and domestic violence coalition, according to the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW).

Spanish-speaking Internet Populations

  • According to a table of Internet language usage by Internet World Stats, based on the number of Internet users in September 2009, the Spanish language is ranked third among the top three languages used on the Internet with 411,631,985 users worldwide.

  • The Unites States is the third most populous country in terms of the number of Spanish-speaking Internet users, exceeded only by Spain and Mexico.

  • Google and Yahoo have growing Spanish language search engines serving primarily the U.S. market.

  • Survey results published in 2009, from the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Internet and American Life Project, indicate that Latino adults are increasing their use of the Internet faster than other ethnic groups.

  • Nearly forty percent (39%) of Hispanics ages 18 – 34 prefer Spanish language Internet sites, and 42% of Latinas prefer Spanish when surfing the web compared to 29% of Latinos, according to an Ipsos U.S. Hispanic Omnibus telephone interview poll conducted with 513 Hispanics in 2008.

  • Recognizing the draw of the Internet and social media, many corporations are increasing their Spanish language outreach efforts. In December 2009, AT&T announced its Latino social media channels on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube.

  • Over a third (35%) of Latinos nationally are younger than 18 years of age, and fifty percent are under the age of 26.

  • Young people 24 and under represent 35% of all Hispanic online users, according to the Hispanic Youth Online report.

  • By 2050, Latino youth are expected to comprise 29% of the youth population nation-wide.

Beware of Assumptions

The lack of Spanish language on a state coalition website does not reflect a lack of commitment to second language access in other program areas.

Though logic might dictate that those coalitions in states with the largest Latin@ populations would include some relevant content in Spanish, the map reveals that this is not the case.

In some cases the states with larger Latin@ populations, neither the domestic violence nor sexual assault coalitions include any content in Spanish. Yet in other states such as Tennessee and Rhode Island with far fewer Spanish-speaking residents, a proactive effort has been made to include information in Spanish.

The type and amount of content in Spanish included on the websites varies from state to state. While some state coalition websites include downloadable brochures and other relevant information in Spanish others include a single page of information or coalition description.

Whether or not a state coalition website is shaded in the respective cause color depends on how user friendly and accessible the information might be for Spanish monolingual readers. For this purpose the minimum standard of an “En Español” tab on the main page is required. A couple of coalitions that include significant content in Spanish have easy-to-miss “Español” access tabs on the main page in very small font at the very bottom of the page.

Some state coalitions have relied on mechanical or online translations rather than human translation services and their content reflects this.

Problems with non-human translations

There exist certain websites that offer to translate text and online content into a variety of languages. Victim service agencies and state coalitions may be tempted to go this route because of the quick turnaround and the fact that some of these services are free.

However, state coalition websites include technical terms, acronyms, and service-specific terminology that do not translate easily. Non-human translations do not seem to be able to adjust for the English to Spanish translation expansion rate; approximately a 16 percent increase in word count after translation, and there are idioms, culture-specific phrases and grammatical forms that only a native speaker can understand and translate accurately.

Agencies that choose to rely on machine translations do so because they do not have the ability to develop documents and website content in another language. Consequently, there is no one in the agency who can understand and verify the output produced by a machine translation.

Since machine translations can be detected through their rough and at time incoherent text, agencies may suffer credibility issues with the very communities that they are striving to reach.

Second Language Option or Right?

While some services have improved for Spanish-speaking survivors of sexual assault and violence by an intimate partner in some states, the vast majority of English Language Learner (ELL) population groups continue to fall through very real and large victim service accessibility cracks.

In 2009, we saw some incredible advances for Latin@s as a whole, such as the nomination and confirmation of our nation’s first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Recently, through the new PBS series Faces of America with Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. we have been reminded that millions of Latin@s have family ties to this geographic region that span hundreds of years before the United States even existed. Yet, we have also been reminded that hate, intolerance, and scapegoating continue to thrive in a period of change and a struggling economy.

For many Latina victim advocates who work in regions in which powerful anti-immigrant, English-only and Conservative Nativist political ideology thrive, our work is exacerbated by an ongoing lack of formal validation of, and support for all necessary forms of victimandd prevention services in Spanish.

We share this space and information as a tool for change and as a reminder of just how far we still need to go to promote dignity for all.

We encourage you to use this information to promote an atmosphere in which all victims of crime can come forth in the language they are most comfortable with to seek help and assistance in their process of healing.

Additional Resources:

Background information and Position Statements

ALAS recommendations
Alianza Latina en contra la Agresión Sexual (ALAS) releases position statement regarding the elimination of barriers to services for Latin@ survivors (2004) html
The Anti-Rape Movement without Latinas? (2006) html
Position statement developed in support of Latina victim advocates (2007) html
2009 Position Statement Regarding Sexual Violence & Political Agendas html
Tokenish vs. Retention of Women of Color in Victim Services (2001) html

How you can help la causa for improved access:

1) Does your center offer sexual assault services in Spanish? If so, please complete the following to be added to the National directory of victim services in Spanish.

2) If you are a bilingual victim advocate sign up for the Canasta de Herramientas Spanish language outreach tools.

3) Do you have some history to share regarding Latin@ victim advocacy in your state? If so, please complete this survey and help us map our historias!

4) Join us in Texas for the Nuestras Voces: Wise Latinas en la lucha Conference on November 1 & 2, 2010

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