Latinx Heritage Month
Happy Latinx Heritage Month! Safe Havens is proud to celebrate Latin@ and Hispanic members of our community and beyond. To do this, we wanted to highlight the unique intersection of Latin@ identity and abuse, including unique challenges and barriers that Latin@ people experiencing abuse face. Latinx Heritage Month (officially Hispanic Heritage Month) began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 and has since turned into a month-long event (September 15 - October 15) honoring and celebrating the cultures, contributions, and resilience of Latin@, Hispanic, and Latino-identified communities.*
*A note on Latinx and Latin@:
Safe Havens has chosen to use “@” in place of the masculine “o” when referring to people or things that are either gender neutral or both masculine and feminine in make-up. This decision reflects our commitment to gender inclusion and recognizes the important contributions that both men, women, and gender non-conforming people make to our communities.
According to the Human Rights Campaign: “‘Latinx’ is a newer term that has recently gained popularity among scholars, activists and millennials that is inclusive of gender-expansive and gender non-conforming individuals. Additionally, “Latinx” challenges the binary nature of the Spanish-language term Latino(a).”
The Intersection of Latin@ Identity and Abuse
According to the National Latin@ Network, about 1 in 3 Latinas (34.4%) will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime, and 1 in 12 Latinas have experienced IPV in the past 12 months. While this number is similar to rates of White people experiencing abuse, there are additional barriers that Latin@ people experiencing abuse face when seeking help.
Unique Barriers in Seeking Help for Latin@ People Experiencing Abuse:
Historic distrust of police
Language barriers at hotlines or shelters or other places they see
Immigration status, including a fear of deportation for themselves or for the person who is abusing them
Cultural values, examples from Esperanza United:
“Familismo refers to the central place that the family has in most Latinas’ lives. Strong family roles point to the father as the primary breadwinner (although this role is rapidly changing due to economic realities) and to the mother as the person responsible for the well-being and cohesiveness of the family.”
"Gender role expectations change as Latin@ immigrants acculturate to their new environment. However, for many Latin@s their role as mothers is still the most important aspect of their lives, a responsibility against which most of their decisions and actions are weighed. A study found that Latin@ survivors prioritized their children over themselves, protected them, and provided for them as best as they could."
Resources for Latin@ People Experiencing Abuse
National Domestic Violence Hotline
24-hours a day at 1-800-799-7233, 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or chat with them live at TheHotline.org. Bilingual advocates are available at all times.
“Esperanza United (EU) leverages the strengths of Latin@ communities to end gender-based violence. Founded and led by Latinas, we ground our work in listening to the community adapting to meet their changing needs. We work with the community, other service providers, and systems to ensure Latinas, their families, and our communities receive culturally relevant advocacy and quality, appropriate, and effective resources.” EU is based in Minnesota and has many local resources available as well as a directory for local and national organizations that support Latin@ people experiencing abuse.
Encuentro Latino is an online clearinghouse of research, training materials, handouts, and other resources in English and Spanish on domestic violence in Latino/Hispanic immigrant communities in the U.S.
Resources for Listening to Latin@ Victims and Survivors
In 2020, we conducted two Listening Circles with Latin@ faith leaders and community members about faith and domestic violence. The Listening Circles provide a forum to talk about the strengths and needs of Latin@ faith communities, to learn more about how best to engage their strengths, and meet the identified needs. You can view the summary of our Listening Circles on our website here:
By Esperanza United
While the number of studies examining intimate partner violence (IPV) in Latin@ populations is growing, research on this issue continues to be limited in quality and breadth. Esperanza United has compiled what they believe are the most current research on this topic and summarized it in this 2021 report.
By Jaquira Díaz
“In this memoir, Díaz writes devastatingly about surviving sexual abuse and growing up in a broken household plagued by violence and drug addiction in Miami Beach and Puerto Rico. She is slowly able to find herself despite these horrors, learning about her island’s colonial history, discovering her family’s African ancestry and finding love against all odds.”
- New York Times
Listening to people experiencing abuse is vital, and it is even more important to listen and uplift those whose voices might otherwise be silenced. So, join us this month in Listening to Latin@ Victims and Survivors as a way to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month!