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ABRIENDO PUERTAS (Opening Doors)

Background

Existing legal assistance options for low-income, Spanish-speaking victims of sexual assault in King County either are at capacity or offer only limited support. Without easy access to family law resources, victims often feel forced to stay in abusive relationships that threaten their children and livelihood, particularly when the sexual violence is perpetrated by an intimate partner or family member who has financial control over the household. They are vulnerable to offenders who use coercive tactics—such as threatening to report the victim to immigration authorities—if the assault is reported. These threats impact the safety of the victim, who is unable to report the assault without fear of being deported, and the entire community, because the criminal justice system is unable to hold a sexually violent offender accountable.

Abriendo Puertas (Opening Doors) Project

The Abriendo Puertas Project offers King County’s only holistic legal assistance program providing sexual assault and immigration and family law expertise, all in a linguistically and culturally appropriate manner. Through our partnership with the Northwest Justice Project (NJP), KCSARC provides legal advocacy and assistance with Sexual Assault Protection Orders (a civil legal remedy that sometimes requires legal representation, especially challenging for individuals with limited English proficiency), while NJP provides direct legal consultation and representation.

 

KCSARC is collaborating with the Northwest Justice Project (NJP) to:

  • Hire an attorney dedicated to meeting the family and immigration law needs of low-income, Hispanic/Latino victims of sexual assault.

  • Develop shared intake, case management, and other systems to increase the efficiency of services provided jointly by NJP and KCSARC.

  • Build capacity of KCSARC’s Legal Advocates to assist more victims in obtaining Sexual Assault Protection Orders and with general legal advocacy.

  • Provide cross training and consultation to build core competencies of each agency to meet the needs of Hispanic/Latino victims of sexual assault.

 

Key Facts

  • For sexual assault victims, no free legal representation exists at any step of the process for family law matters, presenting enormous challenges for someone who is traumatized, unfamiliar with the U.S. legal system, and not proficient in English.

  • Hispanic/Latino victims of sexual assault in King County need legal assistance with immigration requirements, especially obtaining U-Visas, and with family law matters such as parenting plans and child support.

  • A growing Hispanic/Latino population has also increased the demand for more Spanish language legal advocacy and assistance with obtaining Sexual Assault Protection Orders.

  • For victims of sexual assault, immigration issues usually arise from threats of deportation made by an offender who is trying to control the victim. When that victim is able to obtain a U-Visa she is able to come forward without fear of deportation to report the crime, get help, and assist prosecution.