One out of every four women in America are victims of domestic abuse, says Julie Marzec, program coordinator for the Alliance for Immigrant Women
Marzec, who in previous years spent time working in Latin America, says their statistics were much higher, with four out of five women predicted to be affected by domestic abuse.
“That doesn’t just go away when they come to the United States,” Marzec says.
Cincinnati became home to an influx of immigrants in the early 2000s; and in 2001, a group of organizations came together in an effort to assist women facing a number of troubling issues within the community.
Shelters were unable to provide women with the support they needed for a number of reasons, including language barriers and lack of legal support, Marzec says.
So the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati
formed the Alliance for Battered and Abused Immigrant Women. The nonprofit’s efforts have now shifted and are led chiefly by the YWCA
, which has formed a coalition with more than 30 organizations—the AIW. The main goal is to provide support for women who have either been victims of domestic abuse themselves, or know someone who has.
The AIW assists women in a variety of ways, whether it is through teaching them about healthy relationships, creating multilingual safety plans, training other social workers and law enforcement officers about successful tactics for helping those in need, or referring women to other organizations within the alliance that can best help them.
As part of the community education goal, the AIW hosts a Lunch & Learn series, a monthly luncheon where service providers eat, listen and learn about an issue central to domestic violence survivors within the immigrant population. This month’s session, “Domestic Violence and Immigrant Women with HIV/AIDS,” takes place Feb. 20 at the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati.
“It’s really a chance for community members to reach out and meet each other, learn a little bit about different opportunities and different references they utilize in the future,” Marzec says.
The Lunch & Learn series is just one effort the organization has made to raise the profile of immigrant women and domestic abuse, and it hopes to continue to do so through its various advocacy and outreach programs.
“To help these women, we really need to learn about it,” says Marzec. “More immigrant women are learning about our services and know there’s an organization out there specifically for them, and that makes a big difference.”
Julie Marzec if you're interested in or in need of the organization's services.
• Request literature and handouts for immigrant women who may benefit from knowing safety plans and information about domestic abuse. Contact
Julie Marzec for more information.
• Become culturally competent about immigrant women and the struggles they face when they are survivors of domestic violence.
By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.