A nonprofit dedicated to sexual assault survivors in Middle Tennessee has been working with a federal grant to offer bicultural therapy for Latinos.
The Sexual Assault Center, which has office in Nashville and Clarksville, says language isn’t the only barrier to Latinos seeking help. Sometimes subtle religious and other cultural differences can make it difficult for women, men and children from Latin America to express and accept counseling.
“Having lived that cultural experience helps clients feel more comfortable sharing their own stories,” says Alicia Bunch, the coordinator of the bilingual program, “and also just being able to talk about things that are really important to them and holding their values.”
Reporting sexual assault is challenging in every culture. Most of the time, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows and there is a common reality of not believing the victim account. Add to that the fact that many Latino immigrants fear, if they report, they could be deported.
But sometimes values can diverge from others in the United States. That includes different notions of spirituality and natural healing.
To help, the Sexual Assault Center has three therapists who specialize in working with Latinos. All of them have lived in Latin America.
They work with an array of people. Half are children, says Bunch, adding that Latinos often seem more open to seeking counseling on their behalf.
“It’s about really wanting the best thing for their kids,” she says.
Funding comes from a federal grant called Stop Violence Against Women, which the organization was awarded the first time in 2014. The grant was renewed last year and goes until 2019.