Federal Grant Addresses Victim Services in Sussex Hispanic Commu - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Federal Grant Addresses Victim Services in Sussex Hispanic Community

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GEORGETOWN, Del. - Outside of La Esperanza in Georgetown, WBOC met with Miriam Ramirez from Guatemala, who has now permanently found her home in Seaford. A mother of a three-year old daughter, Ramirez now considers herself a strong woman who can set an example for her daughter. But emotion evident in her eyes, she described to WBOC that domestic assault has long been a part of her life.

"The past was very difficult because for me," she said in Spanish. "I looked at (domestic assault) like it wasn't a problem. That it was something normal for a couple."

Ramirez said that she was beaten regularly by her former husband. She said that for years, she was too scared to leave him and ask for help.

"Sometimes it gives me anger," she said looking back at the abuse. "It gives me sadness. Because I sometimes say the Domestic Violence - it marks all of your life."    

Claudia Pena Porretti, the Executive Director at La Esperanza, said it is this problem exactly they hope a new federal grant can help solve. The organization that advocates and provides services to the Hispanic population of Georgetown received $200,000 from the federal government towards the victim services Program, which supports victims of sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic assault.

La Esperanza will use the money, spread over two years, to hire a new bilingual attorney and paralegal. This staff will help alleged victims to navigate through the legal system.

"The challenges for non-English speaking victims are even more daunting," she said. "Are even more complex."

The Attorney General's office told WBOC that crimes like domestic assault are problems in all communities, although the office said that the challenges are uniquely difficult for the Hispanic community, due to language and cultural barriers.

The office reports that in 2013 there were 23,985 cases of domestic violence reported in the state of Delaware. This was a reduction of 11 percent from the year before, but the office said more needs to be done.

The hiring of these two employees brings the staff to seven members. La Esperanza employs a mental health therapist, an immigration attorney, an immigration assistant, and two bilingual advocates in their Georgetown office. 

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