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For Promotoras

Sexual Violence in the Hispanic Community: A Conversation Between Women, Parts 1 and 2

English Translation of La violencia sexual en la comunidad Latina: una plática entre mujeres

Part 1

  1. Help Exists

    National Community Outreach Project

    Sexual Violence in the Hispanic Community: A Conversation Between Women Part One

  2. A Few Types of Sexual Violence

    Anyone may be a victim of sexual violence, whether the person is a man, a woman, or a child.

    Sexual violence includes—

    • Child sexual abuse.
    • Incest.
    • Sexual assault of elders.
    • Sexual harassment.
    • Rape (including intimate partner rape).
    • Acts to sell or exploit the sexuality of a person by means of threat, pressure, or coercion applied by another individual, regardless of that person’s relationship with the victim.
  3. Child Sexual Abuse

    • Child sexual abuse occurs when someone uses a boy or a girl for some type of sexual activity.
    • It may be with or without forcible penetration, with or without physical contact, and performed with or without violence.
  4. Child Sexual Abuse (cont.)

    Child sexual abuse includes—

    • Inappropriate body-related sexual comments.
    • Showing of pornographic material.
    • Sexual kisses.
    • Genital, oral, or anal penetration with a finger, penis, or object.
    • Child prostitution.
    • Inappropriate caresses.
  5. Child Sexual Abuse (cont.)

    • Child sexual abuse always occurs without consent, given that minors are unable to consent.
    • It is important to know the age of consent of the state of residence, as this age varies depending on the state. If both persons are minors, it also is important to know the age difference between the persons involved.
    • Child sexual abuse occurs in all countries, in all communities, and among rich and poor families.
  6. The "Grooming" Process

    "Grooming" Process: a strategy used by sexual abusers to manipulate boys, girls, teenagers, and the adults responsible for their care to facilitate child sexual abuse (Sutton and Jones, 2004).

  7. Incest

    • Most sexual assault occurs at home.
    • It is not limited by the educational, cultural, and financial level of the family.
    • The aggressor is usually the father/mother, stepfather, brother/sister, or any close relative with easy access to the victim.
    • This type of sexual assault is called incest.
  8. Sexual Harassment

    Sexual harassment—

    • Is any unwanted sexual gesture or behavior.
    • May occur repeatedly or happen only once in a serious manner.
    • May be expressed verbally, physically, or in writing (e.g., on paper, e-mail, text messages).
  9. Types of Sexual Harassment

    Sexual harassment includes—

    • Physical contact, including fondling.
    • Whistling.
    • Rude comments.
    • Provocative gestures.
    • Showing pornography at work.
  10. Sexual Harassment at Work

    Sexual harassment is any type of sexual conduct when—

    • The subjection to or rejection of the behavior affects one’s job.
    • It interferes with work performance.
    • It creates a threatening, hostile, or offensive work environment.
  11. Types of Sexual Harassment at Work

    • Quid pro quo ("this for that" or an exchange of favors). Persons with authority suggest (subtly or openly) sexual favors as a condition for employment or improvement of work conditions.

      • Example 1: The manager of a hotel offers rooms for free to female employees in exchange for sex with him or her.
      • Example 2: A manager offers more hours of work or a salary increase in exchange for a date.
  12. Types of Sexual Harassment at Work (cont.)

    • Hostile work environment. The ability of the employee to do his/her job is impaired due to the unwanted sexual behavior of the offender.

      • The behavior of any coworker (including directors, supervisors, and colleagues) can create a hostile work environment.
      • Many suffer in silence due to fear of retaliation and/or losing their jobs.
  13. Rights of Sexual Harassment Victims

    • Sexual harassment at work is against the civil and/or federal laws of the United States.
    • Nobody should be exposed to sexual behavior or forced to have sex in order to keep his/her job or be granted improved working conditions.
    • Free services are available to protect workers against sexual harassment.
  14. Rape

    • Rape: Forced sexual intercourse without the consent of the other person.
    • Simply asking the question "have you ever been raped?" is not enough. Why?

      • Existing taboos. Some women are unable to speak directly about subjects that are so private (for instance, in the event of rape perpetrated by the victim’s intimate partner).
      • The emotional difficulty of describing what one went through during the rape.

    (Hannekee, Shields, and McCall, 1986)

  15. Rape by Acquaintance

    • Rape by acquaintance is one of the most common forms of sexual violence. In these cases, the aggressor is someone the victim knows:

      • Friend.
      • Neighbor.
      • Classmate.
      • Workmate.
      • Current/former boyfriend.
      • Current/former husband.
      • Religious leader.
      • Family member (e.g., father, brother, grandfather, uncle)
    • Women may also commit rape.
  16. Talking to Women About Sexual Violence

    • Have you been disrespected at work with sexual gestures or foul language?
    • Have you been required or forced to have sex against your will?
    • Have you been forced to engage in prostitution by the person who smuggled you into the country?
  17. Talking to Women About Sexual Violence (cont.)

    • Has your husband or partner forced you to participate in sexual acts against your will?
    • Has your husband or partner forced to you to have sex when you were sick, feeling pain, uncomfortable due to pregnancy, or simply did not feel like having sex?
    • Are you afraid to say "NO" when you do not want to have sex?
    (Wellesley Centers for Women, 1998)

  18. Myths Cause Harm

    • There are many myths regarding rape.
    • Such beliefs try to blame the victim and justify the rapist’s actions.
    • These myths are very dangerous. They not only cause harm to the survivors, but also limit the possibilities of confronting this type of crime.
  19. Myths Cause Harm (cont.)

    • A few common myths are—

      • "Rape is an act of passion."
      • "A woman that wears sexy clothes entices a man."
      • "A man has no self-control when he is sexually excited."
      • "If the man is drunk, he is not guilty; it is the alcohol that causes the rape."
      • "Only men commit rape."
      • "Only women are rape victims."
  20. The Truth About Rape

    To fight against sexual violence, it is important to refute the myths and make people aware of the truth:

    • Rape is not an act of passion; it is an act of aggression and control.
    • No one deserves rape.
    • Men are absolutely able to control themselves when they want to.
    • Drunkenness does not eliminate the guilt of the rapist.
    • Only the rapist is responsible for the crime; the victim is never responsible.
    • Both men and women may be sexual victims and aggressors.
  21. According to Statistics

    • In most rape cases, the victims are 15 to 24 years old.
    • In 73% of rape and sexual assault cases, the aggressors are acquaintances, friends, or partners of the victims.
    • Approximately 60% of rape and sexual assault cases are not reported to the police.

    (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2005)

  22. According to Statistics (cont.)

    • Approximately 10% to 14% of raped women are raped by their intimate partner (Campbell and Alford, 1989).
    • Hispanic women were less inclined to immediately recognize their forced sex experiences as "rape"; some considered sex a marital obligation (Bergen, 1996).
    • Statistics are important, but they do not completely represent reality. The lack of services for Hispanic survivors means that data cannot accurately reflect the number of victims in that community.
  23. Lack of Consent and Impaired Capacity

    • In general, laws related to rape establish that in certain situations, such as impaired capacity (or legal incapacity), persons are unable to consent.
    • For instance, a person may not consent to sex if he or she is—

      • Unconscious (e.g., asleep or fainted).
      • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
      • Disabled.
      • Under age.
  24. Rape and Alcohol

    • At least 50% of rape cases involve alcohol consumption by the rapist, the victim, or both (George et al., 1995).
    • Approximately 75% of men and 55% of women who are victims of rape by acquaintance report that they drank alcohol or used other drugs before the incident (Warshaw, 1998).
    • Some victims are afraid to report a rape if they were under the influence of alcohol when the crime occurred.
    • Alcohol is the drug most used in rape by acquaintance. The attacker deliberately inebriates the victim to impair and incapacitate his/her judgment, knowing that the victim will not report the rape because he/she feels ashamed.
  25. Rape Facilitated by Drugs

    • Rohypnol and GHB can impair the ability to defend oneself. These drugs may be mixed into alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
    • To reduce risk, it is important to—

      • Prepare and get your own drink.
      • Never leave your own drink unattended—not even with a person you know—because the aggressor is often a person that the victim believes to be trustworthy.
  26. Blaming the Victim

    • The practice of blaming the victim of sexual violence for her/his own victimization is universal.
    • The messages received by sexual violence survivors influence whether they seek help.
    • It is important to know how messages of blame are expressed in each culture so as to challenge them when talking with survivors.
  27. Blaming the Victim (cont.)

    • The range of messages of blame includes the following toxic concepts:

      • Girls are inevitably beneath boys.
      • Having nonconsensual sex with boys or girls may be justified.
      • Women do not have the right to exercise their sexual autonomy.
      • A woman with sexual experience cannot be raped.
  28. Blaming the Victim (cont.)

    • Social Expectations

      • Girls and women are expected to be sweet, obedient, passive, quiet, pleasant, complacent, and grateful.
      • Women are mainly responsible for having others respect them.
    • When victims are blamed, violence against girls and women is minimized, which eliminates the responsibility of the aggressors and promotes the re-victimization of girls and women throughout the world.
  29. What To Do After Rape

    • The rape survivor should—

      • Call a person that he/she trusts and contact a help center for rape victims.
      • Look for a safe place where he/she will not be alone.
      • Get medical care as soon as possible.
      • Not shower, bathe, or douche.
      • Not brush his/her teeth and not drink, eat, smoke, or change clothes before going to the hospital, if there was oral or genital contact.
      • Bring to the medical exam the clothes he/she was wearing during the rape and a fresh change of clothes.
      • Ask about "Plan B" or the "morning-after pill" to prevent a possible unwanted pregnancy.
  30. What To Do After Rape (cont.)

    • During the first 3 days after the sexual assault, it is important to collect and maintain the evidence because it may be used in a court of justice to file charges against the rapist.
  31. The Rights of the Survivor

    Any person who has been raped has the right to—

    • Call the police without fearing deportation.
    • Have access to an interpreter.
    • Ask for more information on the investigation and the status of his/her case.
    • Have an advisor or a support person present during all interviews, hearings, and exams (with the exception of the hearing with the grand jury).
    • Name a representative if his/her presence is not required.
  32. The Report and the Claim

    • It is important for the survivor to know that—

      • The decision of whether to file a police report is solely his/hers.
      • Reporting a crime to the police is not the same as filing a claim against the rapist in court.
    • The survivor may need more time to learn about and consider his/her options.
  33. The Report and the Claim (cont.)

    • The collection and preservation of evidence could be useful in the future if she/he decides to file a claim against the rapist in a court of justice.
    • It is important to take into account the time factor and collect and retain the physical evidence while it is still available.
  34. The Anonymous "Jane Doe" Report

    • Anonymous reports can help victims feel more comfortable about cooperating with the evidence collection procedure.
    • The difference between this type of report and conventional reports is that the evidence is sealed with a number on its outside instead of a name, and the police cannot open it until the victim decides to file the report.
  35. Help Centers for Sexual Violence Victims

    • Survivors need to find someone they can rely on to talk to about what has happened so they can vent feelings in a safe environment.
    • Rape victim help centers generally offer the following free services, from the time of the assault to the trial:

      • 24-hour help line.
      • Accompaniment to the hospital, police station, and/or court to provide information and emotional support.
      • Support groups.
  36. Help Centers for Sexual Violence Victims (cont.)

    • More free services offered by rape victim help centers include—

      • Short- and long-term therapy/counseling for individuals and groups.
      • Legal advocacy.
      • Information about and support for applying for crime victims’ compensation.
  37. Free Services

    • All services provided by programs financed by the state and supported with federal funds are offered at no cost to victims of sexual and intimate partner violence, and they are confidential.
    • Local Services:

Part 2

  1. Help Exists

    National Community Outreach Project

    Sexual Violence in the Hispanic Community: A Conversation Between Women Part Two

  2. Sexual Assault Forensic Exam

    • During the 72 hours following the sexual assault, it is important to collect and preserve the evidence by means of a medical exam.
    • A sexual assault nurse examiner will inspect the body of the survivor for any injuries and collect evidence that the attacker may have left behind.
    • In some states, the nurse is required to perform a blood test.
  3. Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (cont.)

    • Many hospitals use a rape kit to collect rape evidence such as clothes fibers, hair, pubic hair, saliva, or semen that could help identify the attacker.
    • The rape kit contains a standard set of items such as small boxes, microscope slides, and plastic bags for collecting and storing evidence. The evidence samples may be used in court.
    • It is very important to receive medical care to prevent sexually transmitted diseases or a possible unwanted pregnancy.
  4. Emergency Contraception or "Plan B"

    • Emergency contraception may be used to prevent a woman from getting pregnant after sex without protection and against her will.
    • The emergency contraception pill must be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of a rape.
    • The emergency contraception pill—

      • Does not cause an abortion.
      • Prevents the pregnancy, stopping ovulation, fertilization, or implantation.
      • Does not affect an ongoing pregnancy.
  5. Possible Emotional Reactions to Rape

    • Although each person reacts differently, survivors may feel a series of emotional reactions immediately after the attack and throughout the recovery process.
    • There is no "correct" or incorrect way to react to the experience.
    • Some persons have nightmares or traumatic flashbacks of the attack.
  6. Possible Emotional Reactions to Rape (cont.)

    • Emotional shock.
    • Disbelief.
    • Shame.
    • Dishonor.
    • Inappropriate self-blame.
    • Depression.
    • Horror.
    • Rage.
    • Desire for revenge.
    • Suicidal thoughts.
    • Minimize the importance of what has occurred.
    • Nightmares.
    • Insomnia.
  7. Is It My Fault?

    • Social standards lead some victims to feel that they caused the incident:

      • "God was punishing me."
      • "This happened for a reason."
      • "I must have done something to deserve it."
      • "Nobody will want to marry me."
      • "I am a disreputable woman."
  8. Is It My Fault? (cont.)

    • It does not matter where it happened, who did it, how she was dressed, whether she was drunk, or if they have had sex in the past.
    • Remember that the victim is never to blame.
  9. The Recovery Process

    The reaction to this type of trauma is very different from one person to another and can involve going back and forth between different recovery phases for the rest of the victim’s life.

  10. Rape Trauma Syndrome

    In the 1970s, investigators Ann Burgess and Lynda Holstrom identified "Rape Trauma Syndrome" (RTS)—a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. In 1987, Mary Koss and Mary Harvey identified three phases or stages of RTS:

    • Acute phase.
    • Outward adjustment stage.
    • Integration phase.
  11. RTS: Acute Phase

    The acute phase occurs after the attack and may last several days. It includes—

    • Physical reactions: Injuries caused by the rape (e.g., vaginal, anal, or oral pain and discomfort; infections), stomachache, stress, nausea, loss of appetite, other expressions of general pain.
    • Emotional reactions: Demonstrations of rage, guilt, fear, shame, and confusion, or suppression or concealment of emotional reactions.
  12. RTS: Outward Adjustment Stage

    • The outward adjustment stage may last months or years and covers the period during which survivors try to "recover normalcy" and go on with their lives.
    • In this phase, the survivor—

      • Organizes his/her life and learns how to overcome stress related to the sexual attack.
      • Takes care of his/her emotional needs: learns how to react in specific situations, finds support systems, and faces existing problems (e.g., relationship issues, possible addictions).
  13. RTS: Integration Phase

    • During the integration phase, the survivor finds ways to overcome negative feelings (e.g., self-blame) and—

      • Is capable of remembering the trauma without feeling strong emotions or can deal with them if they occur.
      • Accepts the attack as an experience in his/her life that does not define or thwart his/her life.
    • Not all survivors react the same way. The recovery phase varies depending on the survivor and the type of support received.
  14. How To Promote Recovery

    • To promote recovery—

      • Believe the survivor.
      • Do not excuse or justify the rapist’s actions.
      • Try to get the victim to express her/his feelings.
      • Avoid cataloging or identifying the survivor as a victim.
      • Urge the survivor to seek help.
      • Respect the time required by the survivor to recover.
    • For more suggestions in Spanish, visit www.arte-sana.com/articles/espanol/para_sobrevivientes_article.htm.
  15. The Immigrant and Undocumented Victim

    • Immigrant women are vulnerable to sexual exploitation because aggressors believe that they will not report the crime to the police. Aggressors frequently threaten their victims with deportation should they seek help, and victims mistakenly believe these threats.
    • They may be subjected to sexual violence by being—

      • Sexually harassed at work.
      • Trapped in human trafficking and forced into prostitution.
      • Raped during the process of crossing the border by border guards, policemen, other refugees, or migrant smugglers ("coyotes").
      • Forced to pay for alleged border-crossing costs with sexual favors.
      • Victims of intimate partner sexual violence.
  16. The Immigrant and Undocumented Victim (cont.)

    • In 1995, a study found that 90% of immigrant women identified sexual harassment at the workplace as a significant problem (Lopez-Treviño, 1995).
    • Domestic workers, greatly dependent on their employers and afraid of deportation, face labor exploitation and a series of serious abuses that include physical and sexual assault (Human Rights Watch, 2006).
    • Immigrant women may be vulnerable to abuse committed by their spouse/partner because they do not speak English, do not know their rights, or their immigrant status depends on their spouse’s status.
  17. Human Trafficking

    • Human trafficking victims find themselves subjected to sexual exploitation or forced labor by means of fraud, force, or coercion (Office for Victims of Crime, nd).
    • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (nd) defines human trafficking as—
      the action of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person for the purposes of exploitation.
  18. Human Trafficking (cont.)

    • Possible indicators of human trafficking include when—

      • A person is forced to work to pay a debt, with no terms or conditions defined.
      • A person is threatened with deportation if he/she leaves the job.
      • A person’s identification documents are confiscated by the employer.
      • The manager or employer deprives the person of his/her freedom or restricts his/her movements.
      • A person must ask for permission to attend to his/her basic needs (eat, sleep, bathroom use).
  19. Sexual Slavery

    • Sexual slavery is the transportation and detention of human beings (most of whom are women and minors) against their will or by means of blackmail, deceit, or threats for the purpose of their sexual exploitation.
    • Traffickers may—

      • Use false promises of employment, such as modeling work or other legitimate employment, to capture young women and force them into prostitution.
      • Deceive poor families with promises of an "opportunity" to send their children to other places, promising a better life.
  20. Legal Resources for the Immigrant and Undocumented Victim

    • The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) offers victims who are not U.S. citizens means to apply for a special visa and other benefits and services, so that they may safely rebuild their lives.
    • TVPA created two new visas—the T-Visa and the U-Visa—to provide legal status to victims who are not U.S. citizens, so that they will help the authorities investigating the crime.
  21. Legal Resources for the Immigrant and Undocumented Victim (cont.)

    • An undocumented survivor deserves help. As a victim of crime, she/he has a right to the same services for crime victims as any person born in the United States.
    • The fear of deportation is a great concern among many immigrants, and all too frequently this fear keeps them in situations of abuse.
    • If the victim is the spouse or daughter/son of a U.S. citizen or legal resident, the victim may qualify for "self-petition" and acquire legal status under the Violence Against Women Act.
  22. Safety Advice

    Many of our communities have high crime rates, and we should take the following precautions:

    • Wherever you are on the street, in an office building, in a mall, driving your car, or waiting for the bus or the subway, remain alert and pay attention to what is going on around you.
    • Trust your instincts. If something or somebody frightens you, avoid her/him and leave the place.
  23. Safety Advice (cont.)

    • If you are driving a car, keep your car key handy so that you can get into the car as quickly as possible.
    • Program your cell phone to dial emergency numbers instantly.
    • Know the areas where you live and work.
    • Walk on well-lit and busy streets. Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
  24. Safety Advice (cont.)

    • Let others know in advance—specifically, your workmates and supervisors—where you are going and what to do if you do not come back.
    • Notify your workmates, supervisors, or human resources personnel if you receive a threat or an unwanted sexual advance. Document all incidents with the human resources office or your supervisor.
  25. National Resources

    • The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) provides a telephone service that automatically connects each call to the closest center:

    • Domestic Violence National Hotline (in Spanish):

  26. National Resources (cont.)

    • National Human Trafficking Hotline (in Spanish):

    • Family Violence Prevention Fund:

    • National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild:

  27. Local Resources

    [Local information to be added by presenter.]

Office for Victims of Crime
810 Seventh Street NW., Washington, DC 20531
The Office for Victims of Crime is a component of the Office of Justice Programs,
U.S. Department of Justice.
Office of Justice ProgramsOffice for Victims of Crime. Justice For Victims Justice for All.