Latinas face barriers to reporting domestic violence

CLEVELAND — Domestic violence is a cancer that grips communities across the country, but the Journey Center for Safety and Healing helps survivors in every community.

Alicia Carrizo is one such survivor.

“He put a knife to my throat and he said he was going to leave me dead, in front of my daughters,” Carrizo said.

Carrizo is a mother of five who shared how she survived her violent 18-year marriage, explaining what it was like to live in the United States as a Latina who had no papers or spoke English .

“All the brothers, sisters and parents of my family are back in Argentina. So I don’t have anyone. I don’t know the law. I didn’t speak English at all,” Carizzo said.

She is not alone. According to the CDC, 34.4% of Hispanic women experience domestic violence, compared to 37.3% of American women overall. Melissa Graves is the Executive Director of the Journey Center for Safety and Healing, where they offer the Latina Domestic Violence Project.

In the Latin American community, situations of domestic violence are common but also extremely under-reported, for several reasons.

“We find that people have additional barriers which could be a language barrier. Abusers use things like documentation and immigration status as ways to threaten and control the people they abuse,” Graves said.

These are all obstacles that Alicia also encountered in the system that she did not understand. As part of Journey’s Latin DV Project, they offer a list of services including Spanish-speaking therapy, volunteer immigration lawyers, shelter, and links to Spanish-speaking resources. They also help apply for a U visa, which allows undocumented crime victims to live and work in the United States.

“I was an immigrant, I was without legal status. I applied for a U visa and now I am a citizen,” Carrizo said.

Ten years later, she is now on the other side, helping people like her with the same resources she once used.

“They gave me a second chance at life,” Carrizo said.

She sends the same message to everyone in a domestic violence situation.

“You are not alone, you have outside help, you can call us and you can have a second chance,” Carrizo said.

If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, you can call/text 216-391-4347 or click here.

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