LCSJ/LAWS provides important services to Spanish-speaking survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Loudoun County. The majority of our clients are referred to us through friends and family members who may have used LAWS’ services in the past.
Typically, a client may receive information about LAWS from a friend but many cultural barriers may cause her to wait several months before actually calling us. We are working to reduce barriers by providing accurate information and education to the clients and by advocating for them within the community.
Upon receiving a call, the Spanish-speaking advocate immediately works on building trust with the client. Often, many victims are unsure about the legal system in this country or may have been given erroneous information regarding the legal process and a victim’s rights. In addition, many victims do not want to involve the police or seek legal assistance for fear of immigration and the possibility of breaking up the family dynamics.
Another common barrier is how much our services may cost and they worry that the abuser or others will find out that they are accessing our services. Our advocate emphasizes that LAWS’ services are free to all victims and all of the information received is confidential.
When the client feels comfortable enough to come in and meet with our advocate, we will then learn more about her situation and find out how LAWS can assist her. We always talk about immediate and future safety, taking into consideration the children’s safety needs, when developing a plan. During the meeting, we and the client determine the services that may be most helpful. LAWS offers shelter, legal referrals for protective orders and/or family law, counseling for the victim and/or their children, support groups, the nurturing program, and help from the Resourceful Woman store.
The advocate serves an important role by providing culturally competent help in the client’s native language. Accompanying a woman to court or to Family Services helps those we serve better understand what is happening and what their responsibility is going to be as they move through a complicated system.
Lastly, if their needs cannot be met through LAWS, we work to find the appropriate referrals within the community. With the client’s permission, we will continue to check in with her to be sure that their needs are being met.
If you would like to support our services to Spanish-speaking victims, there is a strong need for bus tokens because many of our clients do not have access to transportation.