Domestic violence victims who don’t speak English are getting help from YWCA

YWCA offering help to domestic violence victims in East Tennessee who speak English, French, Spanish and Arabic
Victim advocates at YWCA are offering help in English, Spanish, French and Arabic.
Victim advocates at YWCA are offering help in English, Spanish, French and Arabic.(YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley)
Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 1:16 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Women who are victims of domestic violence and do not speak English are getting free help from the YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley.

YWCA offers support groups in English, Spanish and Arabic to women who are victims of domestic violence and to female family members. The confidential support groups are led by trained facilitators and meet weekly to address issues of domestic violence.

“We know that domestic violence affects people from all walks of life all cultures doesn’t discriminate. So, for those who maybe English isn’t their first language and feel really isolated all of this. We are fortunate enough to have some culturally specific advocates that are able to provide all of the same advocacy services that our English speaking clients receive. So it’s someone who understands kind of those cultural barriers that they’re experiencing and kind of maybe the ins and outs of what they experienced every day so they’re able to provide support groups,” said Catherine Jones, victim advocacy program coordinator for the YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley.

Jones said the multi-lingual advocacy services began in 2016 and are available in Knox and Anderson Counties.

“It’s a place where they feel safe, people who understand what they’re going through. And, you know, and to have a support system within those small communities that says. ‘hey I understand what you’re going through. And I’m in this with you, and we can do this we can do it together.’ So, that’s something we have seen that they have leaned on so heavily during this time is just to have that, that resource there of someone who is going to walk through this with them,” she said.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in East Tennessee, the YWCA has been offering its services virtually and over the phone. Jones said since the stay-at-home orders went into place there has been fewer domestic violence calls reported but the severity of cases is increasing.

“When this all started and we had the safer-at-home orders and I think one thing that maybe a lot of people didn’t realize is that not everyone is safer at home. So, checking in on people around you. You may be the one person that could save their life,” she said. “It’s getting to a point where it’s kind of a life or death situation and that’s when we’re getting the calls of, ‘I have to leave right now.’ And I think to that’s also a challenge when they’re needing to leave right now, and maybe needing shelter. So, I know a lot of the shelters in the area, maybe have a reduced capacity due to COVID guidelines. So, being creative and really casting out I would say a larger net of connecting resources so looking in surrounding counties of, where can we go and who can we reach out to to make sure that you’re still getting those services, even if it can’t be here in the county right now, and then working with them from there.”

YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley offers support and services to women and families in Knox, Anderson, Loudon, and Roane Counties. Victim Advocates are available to provide assistance with orders of protection, accompany victims to court, conduct danger assessments, and develop safety plans. Information is available 24 hours a day, by calling (865) 523-6126.

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