Nuestras voces/Our Voices: Wise Latinas en la lucha

"Español" Tab Missing on Most
Texas Victim Assistance Websites


Download data chart here

Texas was home to 8.9 million Latin@s in 2008, according to U.S. Census Bureau population projections. As victim advocates in a border state with a large and growing Spanish-speaking population, we are aware of the importance of trust and language in communicating both victim rights and prevention information. Both the TAASA and TCFV websites, which stand among a handful of state coalition websites with Spanish language content, were included in Arte Sana’s national map in April.

However, critical connections are either made or lost at the direct service level and access obstacles are not limited to legislative mandates, but are also a result of everyday management and budget decisions. Having both bilingual victim advocate staff and volunteers who are able to understand the following possible pleas for help is key.

“¡No sé qué pasó, siento como que fui violada pero no recuerdo nada, ayúdame por favor!”

“¡El maestro le faltó respeto a mija!”

“Mi jefe es un violador y nos acosa en el trabajo. ¿Qué podemos hacer?”

¿Es violación cuando tu marido te obliga a actos sexuales humillantes?

“Hay una casa al lado en donde tienen muchas jóvenes encerradas: siempre llegan muchos hombres. ¿Quién les puede ayudar?”

Without bilingual staff, centers risk promoting the further re-victimization and trauma of thousands of LEP/ELL survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking.

To get a better idea of the level and type of victim service information that exists in Spanish, Arte Sana has begun a review of rape crisis center and dual center web content beginning in our own backyard.

The process:

  1. Rape crisis centers and dual centers were identified through the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault and the RAINN websites.

  2. Center names were Googled when URLs were not available.

  3. An initial search for an “Español” or “Spanish” tab was made both on the main page and in subsequent web pages.

  4. A word count was made of the text found.

Since the search was for translated text developed by human translators rather than online machine translations, the two centers that offered this option were not considered in this review.  

The findings:

The findings were truly surprising as only 12 out of 68 active center websites included any words in Spanish, leaving 82% of Texas rape crisis and dual center websites in English only. The amount of information in Spanish included was very varied and ranged from 93 words to the shining example of Houston Area Women's Center with over 11,125 words in Spanish not counting many brochures also available online.

On May 2010:

  • There were 83 rape crisis centers (RCCs) or dual centers in Texas.

  • 72 centers had agreed to be included on the RAINN network and were listed on the national website directory.

  • 17 of the centers or programs did not have an active website. (Some were deactivated due to maintenance.)

  • Of the 68 centers that did have a running website, only 12 included content in Spanish.

  • Only five of the bilingual websites included a substantial amount of victim service and SA-related content in Spanish.

The following two centers included scanned brochure content on their websites:

Mujeres Unidas McAllen (1 brochure)
Waco Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children (2 Brochures)

Texas RCC/Dual Center websites with 93 – 260 words in Spanish:

Bastrop County Women's Shelter, dba Family Crisis Center
Serving Children and Adolescents in Need (SCAN)
Bay Area Turning Point

Texas RCC/Dual Center websites with 464 – 940 words in Spanish:

The Crisis Center in Odessa
East Texas Crisis Center

Texas RCC/Dual Center websites with 1399 – 3702 words in Spanish:

Lubbock Rape Crisis Center
SafePlace in Austin
Focusing Families in Hempstead
Victim Intervention Program / Rape Crisis at Parkland in Dallas

In a league of its own with over 11,125 words in Spanish  PLUS brochure content!

Houston Area Women’s Center

As illustrated in some Border region center websites: larger Latin@ populations do not necessarily lead to greater Spanish language web content. The center that serves the El Paso/Juarez region did not include any information in Spanish, and one of the larger South Texas dual centers only managed to include two scanned brochures.

Some centers with an array of programs and services offered in Spanish do not include these on their websites.

We also found some relevant web content hidden a couple of tabs after the main page - that probably will be missed because of the missing "Español" tab.

Our intent is not to shame any center for not having Spanish language content, but rather to take a snapshot of where we are so that centers can determine what actions (if any) they'd like to take.

In the coming months Arte Sana will collaborate with ALAS members to review the level of Spanish language content in RCC and dual center websites of the 16 state with half a million or more Latin@ residents.  

Arte Sana's ultimate goal is to draw attention to the unmet needs of LEP/ELL survivors in order to support the development of standards for second language victim service information on the Internet.

Human translations only!

Victim advocates are encouraged to use this information in grant applications to move from informal patchwork and volunteer-based efforts to formal, programmatic second language victim/survivor information and service access strategies.

Whatever centers choose to do, they should refrain from using online machine translations because survivors deserve much more than this. Many victim advocates question whether it really is "better than nothing" because the margin for error with sensitive sexual assault and IPV terminology is just too great. There is also a public relations issue to consider. Finally, if a center has to rely on online machine translations, what are the chances of a Spanish-speaking survivor getting the information or services they need in person?

Note: The categories listed in the chart above will be adjusted with future maps. ALAS members are voting on the preferred Spanish language word count number to be classified as “minimum.”

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