Things you need to know about domestic violence and language barriers

 At FCI, while we develop projects like the Florida Community Resource Map, we strive to think and write critically about issues that the Map could help address.

The newest version of the Map will include domestic violence resources, and we’re hoping to expand our Spanish-language offerings.

Accordingly, one of our students and one of our board members did a deep dive on this topic to help us think through the Map’s design and impact, especially for individuals who are currently under-served. They wrote the below post in the process, summarizing what they found out regarding this issue.

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 47.3% of women and 40% of men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. LGBTQ individuals report more instances of domestic violence than heterosexual counterparts.

Domestic violence refers to any violence that occurs in a domestic situation (family, roommates, romantic, and more), whereas the term intimate partner violence more exclusively refers to romantic or dating relationships.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines domestic violence as “a pattern of assaultive behavior and coercive behavior that may include physical injury, psychologic abuse, sexual assault, progressive isolation, stalking, deprivation, intimidation, and reproductive coercion.”

It is clear that many who experience domestic violence want help and are actively seeking it. In 2022, the National Domestic Violence Hotline received over 2,000 calls, texts, and chats per day — and we’re grateful for their vital work. Individuals experiencing domestic violence often need many different types of resources, including housing support, mental health treatment, legal services, and more.

We’re looking forward to doing our part to serve these individuals with our Map, helping them find the resources they need.

But what about the people who might not be reported in these statistics, and struggle to access the currently available resources because of language, legal, and other barriers?

Language and Legal Barriers

When we began writing this post, we assumed that individuals in the Untied States who do not speak English as a first language have a harder time accessing domestic violence resources, and according to the literature we found, it seems like we were right. These individuals also have to contend with additional barriers such as immigration issues (fearing deportation if they report their struggle, for example).

For Spanish-speaking women especially, language barriers are one of the main reasons Latina victims of domestic violence are unable to access resources.

It is time to bring these victims out of the shadows and help them access the resources they need. At FCI, we are committed to seeking out and adding more resources about domestic violence to the Map, and we are actively building a Spanish-language version of the Map.

Do you know of domestic violence resources that you think should be added to the Map? Do you want to support the building of features in Spanish and other languages for the Map? Get in touch:

Supports and resources (an incomplete list)
Find local shelters

Domestic is provides information about nearby domestic violence shelters. It shows that 43 out of the 56 shelters in Florida are able to assist Spanish-speaking victims. 

For example, The Lodge Miami provides free interpretations, translation services, and other accommodations to victims with limited English proficiency.

U Visa

The Violence Against Women Act created the U visa — a crime victim visa — to support immigrant victims. The U visa offers assistance to victims of domestic violence, regardless of the immigration or citizenship status of the abuser, and even if the abuser is not related to the victim as a spouse or parent.

Qingyu Yang, co-author of this post, has been a an intern with FCI since January 2023.

Velgui Perez Tomas, co-author of this post, was a previous intern with FCI and is now a Board Member.

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