Concerns about the number of unreported cases of domestic violence among Latinas and all women

Posted at 1:38 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 20:08:59-04

PHOENIX — In one way or another, everybody has felt the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Health and economic concerns are taking their toll with reports of emotional distress and domestic violence spiking. Many women find themselves in a position of needing help, but not knowing where to turn, especially if they do not know the language or are undocumented in the U.S.

“There are so many things to say. It hurts just to talk about it,” said a woman who we will be identifying as “Ana” to protect her from her abuser.

“Ana” is a victim of domestic violence and only speaks Spanish.

“Mistreatment, reproaches, hits, kicks, punching you like if you were a man, bursting your lips and breaking your ribs,” that’s how Ana describes the violence she experienced just last month while stuck at home. During this time she says she was also dealing with losing her job and not finding resources for not knowing any English.

Ana says she was married for 30 years, although her relationship had been dysfunctional for three decades, she says tensions were higher as a result of the pandemic.

“Not the best time to seek help,” said Ana.

Her life changed when she reached out to Padres y Parientes de Víctimas de Crimen, a Phoenix nonprofit for victims of crime.

“It’s important for victims to know police won’t investigate your immigration status, they only care about information to arrest the abuser,” said Jose Guzman, the Director for Padres y Parientes de Víctimas de Crimen.

Guzman works closely with Silent Witness and together they guide women like Ana to file a police report and get an order of protection.

Padres y Parientes de Víctimas de Crimen also provides victims of violence with therapy and a safe place to stay, but domestic violence, distress and job loss don’t discriminate.

“Our clients are having a tough time,” said Susan Berman, the president of Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. Berman says domestic violence is affecting all women regardless of color, immigration, social status and language.

“There are more incidents of domestic violence happening than are being reported even though the caseload is going up because everyone is home together and they may not have that opportunity to make that call and exit the house,” said Berman.

Isolated, alone, overwhelmed and full of fear, Berman says most of us are feeling that way, “this is such an unprecedented time and surreal.”

Fresh Start is making sure women can access help during the pandemic with live webinars every week, both in English and Spanish.

The webinar topics vary from stress relief, employment coaching, mentoring support, even answering family law questions. They also offer one-on-one virtual coaching for women who need access to emergency services.

Both nonprofits, Padres y Parientes de Víctimas de Crimen and Fresh Start Women’s Foundation want to raise awareness about these issues and let all women know help is out there.

For a list of resources through Fresh Start Women’s Foundation click here.

To contact Padres y Parientes de Víctimas de Crimen visit their Facebook page by clicking here.