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The Role of a Bilingual Victim Advocate

Hopeful Horizons believes strongly in the importance of victim advocacy. Our Victim Advocates provide compassionate and professional support to meet the immediate needs of domestic violence and sexual assault victims. They provide crisis counseling by phone and advocate on behalf of victims to ensure that their rights are protected. Our Victim Advocates help victims navigate the criminal justice system while providing critical support throughout the life of a legal case and can also connect survivors with resources they may need within our agency and within the community.

Victim Advocacy

Melody Hernandez is our Bilingual Victim Advocate for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and provides emotional support to adult survivors. She follows up on Support Line calls from adults and reaches out to survivors to explain what services are available to them at Hopeful Horizons.

Melody acts as the support system between the survivor and services. She establishes rapport with survivors and continues to follow up for several months after their initial call for help. She also provides case management services to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence by helping them connect to agencies within their community. On Tuesdays, she helps facilitate an Online Support Group for survivors.

After years of verbal and physical abuse, a Spanish-speaking client recently fled her home with her two children and only a backpack of personal items. As the Victim Advocate, Melody took on her case and began providing case management services. She provided translation services for several agencies who were involved, including financial assistance, law enforcement and legal services. This client, as with many of our clients, left her home with only a backpack. Hopeful Horizons provided the family with a clothing voucher and drove the client to the Victim Services Center so that she could give her statement to the attorney.

“I was so glad that I could provide translation services as well as advocate for the client’s needs at every step of her journey,” Melody said.

Hospital Accompaniment for Sexual Assault Survivors

Melody also accompanies victims of sexual assault at the hospital and can provide emotional support as well as connect them to services quickly.

“Walking into the emergency room and being present with the survivors allowed them to express their feelings, concerns and questions,” Melody said.

Due to COVID and the accompaniment restrictions at the hospitals, hospital accompaniment is happening via phone or video. Sexual assault services offered at Hopeful Horizons may look a little different during COVID, but they are still available.

Support Line

If you call our 24/7 Support Line, you might talk to Melody. She can assist English and Spanish-speaking callers and connect them to Hopeful Horizons services and services from other community agencies. She is also able to help callers develop a safety plan.

She recently assisted a survivor of domestic violence by connecting them with a community group to help with the damage done to a window of her house during an incident. Melody acted as the middle person between the client, referred agency and contracting company.

Spanish-Speaking Survivors

Challenges for Spanish-speaking victims include everything from cultural issues to immigration and language barriers. Spanish-speaking victims may experience difficulties in finding resources and agencies that have someone that speaks Spanish to be able to better answer their questions. Spanish-speaking victims may not reach out due to fear of what will happen if they report an incident. Many abusers use a victim’s immigration status to further abuse and instill fear in victims.

If a Spanish-speaking victim calls the Support Line, they will be transferred to Melody. As a bilingual advocate, she can sit in on therapy sessions and translate for Spanish-speaking clients. She’s been able to translate as well as provide emotional support when Spanish-speaking clients are giving their statement to attorneys. She works with law enforcement agencies to provide case updates for survivors.

Melody plans to make her presence known within the Latinx community but is also dedicated to highlighting Hopeful Horizons’ services to agencies and people in the communities we serve to be able to reach out to this population in need. She is determined to break down cultural barriers that prevent the Latinx community from seeking sexual assault or domestic violence services by advocating for those who feel like their voice has not been heard and making it known that they have the same rights as any other victim or survivor.

Melody is the Chair of the Low Country SART and has recently joined the Coastal IVC (Immigrant Victim Coalition) Team. She is also a member of the Low Country Human Trafficking Task Force.

To contact Melody and request services, please call the Hopeful Horizons Support Line at 843-770-1070.

Hopeful Horizons provides services to clients no matter their immigration/legal status.


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