WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The Westchester Hispanic Coalition in White Plains can expand its sexual assault and domestic violence services thanks to $100,000 in funding from Westchester, County Executive Rob Astorino announced Tuesday.
The coalition will expand its Ayuda Latina contra Agresion Sexual (ALAS) program to make its 24/7 hotline bilingual and multicultural. The ALAS hotline was launched in February 2012 and was the first Spanish-language helpline for monolingual victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Westchester, according to the group.
“National statistics show that one in seven Hispanic women has experienced rape at some point in her life in the United States,” said Graciela Heymann, executive director of the Westchester Hispanic Coalition . “The ALAS program is tailored specifically to the experiences, circumstances and family values of Latina immigrants. The end goal is not simply to provide services in Spanish, but rather to create innovative, culturally-competent programming that remains true to ‘best practices’ in the field.”
The ALAS program is also expected to add between 30 and 40 volunteer crisis counselor advocates, ESL programs, workforce development, housing and childcare assistance, free immigration consultations and support groups as a result of the new funding. All coalition clients will work with a case manager to create a safety plan.
“It is critically important that women in a crisis situation have around-the-clock access to help,” Astorino said. “Westchester County has long partnered with the Westchester Hispanic Coalition to provide a variety of necessary and culturally-sensitive programs to the Latino community. It makes sense to partner with them once again to help Latinas who have had their safety and trust violated.”
The expanded services aim to address some recurring issues faced by local Latina victims. They include:
- Women experience marital rape and domestic violence but do not identify it as abuse;
- Many new immigrants want to stay in their communities and are not ready to leave their perpetrators;
- New immigrants are unlikely to seek assistance from law enforcement if they fear their spouse’s deportation;
- Latinas who seek outside help do so only when the physical violence can no longer be tolerated, or when children become secondary victims.
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