Each year, the United States brings awareness to domestic violence in October. In 2020, the report of abuse incidents has decreased dramatically due to the COVID-19 health crisis and lack of visually seeing others. Even as lockdown restrictions reduce, the cases of domestic violence do not simply end. It remains a critical time for many, especially for Hispanic families who often reside in underserved communities.
Bringing passion to Hoyleton's purpose
Jackie Chacon moved from El Paso, TX, to southern Illinois in 2019 to join her husband. She had worked at a shelter for undocumented minors and knew she wanted to continue helping those in need. Jackie found a role at Hoyleton Youth & Family Services as a Bilingual Family and Community Advocate. "It was important to me to stay in the nonprofit field so I could support those who sometimes feel that they have none," says Jackie. "With a large Hispanic population in southern Illinois, I knew I could help make a difference in others' lives."
As an advocate, she supports Spanish-speaking residents with everything from making appointments and setting up bank accounts to educating them on community programs and health issues. "I'm basically like a personal assistant helping guide them through tasks that seem simple to those who speak English," says Jackie. "But for those who don't, it can be difficult to navigate these things, so I'm here to help be an interpreter and guide for them."
Supporting victims of domestic violence
When it comes to domestic violence, Jackie is typically the first to speak to Latinas and help them file protection orders. "I will go with them to the courthouse to file and wait with them," says Jackie. "If approved, we work with them on the next steps. If denied, we will assist with getting a lawyer."
Jackie also works within Hoyleton to help with any other support the women might need, whether with locating shelters, counseling, food, clothing, or other resources. "In the end, we will find a way to help them," she says.
Statistics show that one in three Latinas experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and 50% of those never report it. And as an extension of that, 15.5 million children live in U.S. homes where they have witnessed domestic violence. In 2020, those instances have only increased, and Jackie has seen first-hand the spike in cases recently.
"The number of women I help each month has doubled this year," she says. "It's difficult to see them have to go through this, but sadly, it is not uncommon for the Hispanic culture. Many women in Latino households are treated like maids and with little respect."
Hoyleton works throughout the year to educate groups on domestic violence with topics ranging from healthy relationships to signs of abuse. These programs can be both in-person and virtually. "It's really about teaching them to respect themselves and knowing that they have someone there to reach out to," says Jackie. "We have a bilingual staff and can be that support they so desperately need during difficult times."
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please contact Hoyleton Youth & Family Services at (618) 398-0557 or learn more at www.hoyleton.org/programs/community-outreach/violence-prevention/
To help further Hoyleton's mission and services, please visit www.hoyleton.org/ways-to-donate/.