For nearly 30 years, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) has served the country as the largest nonprofit anti-sexual assault organisation, providing services for victims and their loved ones while pursuing justice for perpetrators. The operator of the National Sexual Assault Hotline, RAINN provides free, confidential, 24/7 service via phone (800-656-HOPE) and live chat, with Spanish-language support available online and by phone.
Recently, to better serve Spanish-speaking communities, the organisation has reinforced its commitment to providing hotline access and resources in Spanish by volunteers and staffers in order to offer the best support possible.
“Overall, about one in three victims of rape report it to the police,” Scott Berkowitz, RAINN president, said. “In some communities, including some in which people primarily speak languages other than English, reporting rates are even lower. It is also not uncommon to see lower rates of engagement with police and other legal authorities. One of the goals of providing RAINN services in Spanish is to help victims feel empowered to come forward and seek support.”
RAINN updates to better serve survivors
About 13% of the U.S. population speaks Spanish at home, giving the country the world’s second-largest population of Spanish speakers. RAINN president Scott Berkowitz and his team recognized the increased impact RAINN could have for survivors of sexual violence and launched 24/7 services in Spanish in 2015.
“We welcome more Spanish-speaking survivors to connect with our hotline for the support they need,” Amy Andrades, National Sexual Assault Hotline program director, RAINN, in a recent press release. The Spanish-language hotline, Línea de Ayuda Nacional de Abuso Sexual, reflects RAINN’s dedication to providing additional survivor-centred services regardless of race, culture, or language. “This is here to give you the emotional support and help you need,” said RAINN President Scott Berkowitz. “We encourage more people to reach out for help.”
Having served over four million victims and their loved ones since its 1994 inception, RAINN understands the vital need for resources for people from all walks of life. The US Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime cites several challenges facing Spanish-speaking victims, like a lack of bilingual and bicultural staff available to support rather than rely on interpreters or caregivers. Another obstacle is a shortage of bilingual materials that are also culturally sensitive. Some victims also fear the consequences of coming forward to report an assault. RAINN’s hotline ensures complete confidentiality and no judgment for all callers from all walks of life, and personally identifying information – names, locations, and immigration status – is never requested or required during the support process.
RAINN provides extensive resources for people in need nationally and locally. Spanish speakers can search by state to locate nearby Spanish-speaking providers that specialise in assisting sexual assault victims. These programs, offered through affiliated organisations, also offer resources comprising support groups, welfare programs, and emergency shelter options for victims of crime whose safety is jeopardised, among other resources.
The hotline’s staff members are also trained to provide relevant and culturally appropriate support for people with no other outlet to talk about their experiences. “We want to normalise talking about sexual assault and domestic violence in the Latinx and Spanish-speaking community through our Spanish hotline,” said Claudia Bermúdez, RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline Senior Volunteer Coordinator.
Scott Berkowitz, RAINN’s founder and advocate, believes in fair and equal access to support and care for everyone, regardless of language or cultural background. “We never want a survivor to think they somehow contributed to the assault. A sexual assault is always, and entirely, the perpetrator’s fault,” shared Berkowitz.