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Cultural Differences in Reporting of Sexual Assault to Sexual Assault Agencies in the United States

NCJ Number
Sexual Assault Report Volume: 7 Issue: 6 Dated: July-August 2004 Pages: 84,92,93
Angie Wgliski Ph.D.; Audrey K. Barthel Ph.D.
Date Published
July 2004
3 pages
This report presents findings from a 2001 survey of 600 randomly selected sexual assault agencies in the United States, which included questions on clients' ethnicity and the tailoring of services to minority clients.
Surveyed agencies were asked to indicate the number of clients and the race of clients served during 1998, 1999, and 2000. Of the 275 agencies that responded to the original questionnaire, 87 adequately completed this component of the questionnaire. Only agencies that provided information for all of the years were included in this report. Agencies were also asked if they provided services for non-English-speaking clients and whether non-English-speaking clients were given the option of speaking with a bilingual advocate. Seventy of the agencies indicated that they did provide such services. Fifty-one respondents reported that they offered non-English-speaking clients the option of speaking with a bilingual advocate. The majority of clients served by the responding agencies identified themselves as Caucasian. The number of minority clients (African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian) who were served by the sexual assault agencies was likely a low representation of the total number of sexual assault victims from minority groups. Among these minority groups, the failure to seek help from a community agency was likely due to cultural values associated with the sharing of sexual matters, help-seeking behavior, traditional support networks, and negative experiences with community agencies operated by majority representatives. Understanding a client's cultural values and using this understanding to develop treatment and referrals is essential to providing appropriate services to minority victims of sexual assault. 1 table and 14 references