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Domestic Violence: Bridging the Cultural Divide in Virginia

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March 29, 2011

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. - Bridging cultural and religious differences in Virginia can be challenging for immigrants trying to navigate their daily lives, as well as for the people who try to assist them. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with domestic violence, says Salma Abrugideiri, co-director for Peaceful Families Project. She is the keynote speaker at an event in Mechanicsville today which aims to help professionals, ranging from law enforcement to victim advocates, to understand some of the differences in cultures and various religions, so that they are better able to assist victims and their families.

"Recognizing their own biases and recognizing that when people are coming from other cultures, we have to work from within that way of thinking, within that worldview and that paradigm."

Abrugideiri says that, as Americans, we have our ideas and our opinions of what relationships are supposed to look like, which can be very different to people from other parts of the world.

"And if we go in imposing that, we are going to run the risk of alienating the person who's seeking services, who's going to feel that we don't understand her, we don't understand what she's going through, we don't understand her values."

The all-day event will feature workshops on the legal issues surrounding domestic and sexual violence, with a focus on immigration rights and legislative issues, as well as on human trafficking.

One resource in place for immigrant victims is the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at: 1-800-838-8238. The hotline is available 24/7 and features bilingual staff.

The event, "RAISING OUR VOICES: Advocacy on Behalf of Immigrant Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence" is today from 8:30a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Church of the Redeemer, 8275 Meadowbridge Road, Mechanicsville.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA