In keeping with providing victims of domestic violence with a wide circle of critical resources, the DVCC is excited to announce EsperanzaCT, Connecticut's first Spanish language website and 24-hour service line for victims of domestic abuse. Funded by a grant from the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch and Office of Victim Services, the project is a comprehensive, online service center and round-the-clock service phone line designed to provide Spanish-speaking victims of domestic violence with immediate access to information and assistance in their native language.
The undertaking is a response to the manifest need for broader and more culturally-appropriate outreach within the extensive Spanish-speaking communities in Fairfield County and is in keeping with the DVCC's commitment to indentifying and serving victims of domestic violence where they are most likely to be found.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2006-2008 American Community Survey Three-Year Estimates Report, Latinos comprise 23.9% of Stamford's population and 23.2% of Norwalk's population. Over the eight year period between 2000 and 2008, the Latino population in Fairfield County grew by 31%, from 104,835 to 137,562.
Further, having provided services for thousands of Latina victims and having conducted focus groups with past and current clients, the DVCC understands that they are often reluctant or unable to leave their homes, may have language barriers or limited access to transportation, or may feel more comfortable accessing information from home. Through EsperanzaCT, they are able to have their concerns addressed and their questions answered in two ways; via an interactive website, www.EsperanzaCT.org, or over the phone by Spanish-speaking counselor/advocates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The website describes all of DVCC's resources available to victims of domestic violence, as well as provides a comprehensive directory of community services and links to information that may be relevant to a victim's particular circumstances. Visitors to the site can ask a question online, which will be answered by a counselor within 15 minutes, and can browse through a list of answers to frequently asked questions. Content for the site was created by DVCC staff members, who spent over 1,000 hours writing and translating information.
"We can't stress enough how important and exciting this project is for the Latino community," said Doris Urteaga, DVCC's Coordinator for Spanish Speaking Services. "Obviously, we hope that victims will eventually meet with us if they need help, but EsperanzaCT functions both as a great source of information and as a potential gateway for further assistance. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure victims' safety, to help them better understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship, to advocate for them and provide them with options and to empower them to make decisions that work best for them and their children."