By Melanie Williams
The number of victims of domestic violence in the state is shocking – 54,178 in a 12 month period. Of those, 21% are Latinos and for many of them, finding assistance can be challenging.
Connecticut has no statewide Spanish-language hotline for domestic violence victims, in fact, according to 211.org, only two local Spanish language domestic violence hotlines are operational in Connecticut.
“The greatest number of domestic violence victims are white. The next highest are Hispanic,” according to Karen Jarmoc, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence which has 18 affiliated agencies. Jarmoc attributes this significantly high number of Latino victims based on population trends in Connecticut.
According to the 2011 U.S. Census Report, Hispanics are 13.8 percent of the population in Connecticut, making Latinos the second largest in the state. While the coalition works to end domestic violence by changing social conditions, beliefs, and social actions, it is evident that more resources are needed for the Latino community, which Jarmoc refers to as the “underserved population.”
Jarmoc is aware the resources don’t match the need. Although they are affiliated with EsperanzaCT, a 24 hour Spanish speaking service hotline located in Norwalk and Stamford, she admits, “We realized we had to do a better job with serving the Hispanic community ” She continued, “My hope is within the next 12 months we will have a statewide Spanish speaking hotline.”
This initiative is being made possible through a federal grant, which is allowing the coalition to fund a diversity and accessibility coordinator. Wendy Moto Kasongo, who is bilingual, accepted the position in August and is taking steps to bridge the gap.
“Domestic violence affects the Latino community the same way it affects every victim of other communities. My job is to make sure we are meeting the needs of all victims in a cultural specific way,” said Kasongo.
While fairly new to her new role, Kasongo is currently evaluating the statistics of the EsperanzaCT hotline, focusing on ways to enhance the language accessibility, and explore deeper issues surrounding immigration and assisting victims without legal documentation.
With Kasongo on board, Jarmoc is optimistic to the impact her influence will have in being of aid to the Latino victims, “I think we will see notable strives and improvements within the next year.”
The CCADV is a statewide, non-profit membership organization that was founded in 1978 as the “Battered Women’s Task Force.” Incorporated in 1986, CCADV’s membership is composed of 18 non-profit domestic violence agencies located throughout Connecticut; these agencies directly provide services to victims and their children, including but not limited to planning, advocacy, counseling and emergency shelter.
The statewide 24/7 hotline is open to everyone and is fully confidential. If you need assistance, the number is 888-774-2900.
Photo © Elvert Barnes via Flickr