Victim Service Center gets translators to help sexual assault victims

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — The Victim Service Center in Osceola County is making changes to ensure a victim’s language never prevents that person from getting help.

Orialis Sosa’s job is to be there for sexual assault victims during their lowest points. “For the first time, they can tell their story,” said Sosa, a victim’s advocate.

Channel 9's Nancy Alvarez found out the Victim Service Center has been working hard to keep up with Florida's fast growing Hispanic population.

Until now, a caller in crisis may have been forced to wait for a translator. “If a Spanish speaker wasn’t readily available, we would have to use a language line,” said Lui Damiani, executive director of the Victim’s Service Center.

But Damiani said reflecting the community became a priority, and $500,000 went into the effort.

The result was the hiring of eight bilingual advocates, including two permanently assigned to Osceola County, where more than 50 percent of the population is Hispanic.

There are seven buses running up and down the U.S. 192 corridor in Osceola County with the ads for the agency in Spanish and billboards in Orlando.

“Now that we are providing the service, now that they know Spanish speakers are available, it’s spreading in the community, and they’re finding us,” said Damiani.

Officials said 29 Spanish-speaking victims have received services in the last three months.

The agency said it’s proof their efforts are working. “They ask to speak to someone in Spanish, and that is the moment when you say, that’s me. It’s just a sense of relief."

Nancy Alvarez

Nancy Alvarez, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team in May 2010 and am currently co-anchor of Eyewitness News This Morning alongside Jamie Holmes.