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Domestic Violence Shelters in Hispanic Areas of the U.S. Receive Cash Infusion During Economic Downturn

Foundation Started by the late Mary Kay Ash Awards Grants to Dozens of Women's Shelters in Hispanic-Populated areas

DALLAS, Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, dozens of domestic violence shelters in heavily Hispanic areas across the U.S. are receiving an influx of badly-needed cash during the current economic downturn. The cash infusion is coming from the foundation started by the late Mary Kay Ash. Shelters helping battered women in all 50 states are receiving a total of $3 million from the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation's (MKACF) annual grants.

Domestic Violence Concerns among Hispanics

Domestic violence statistics seem to be consistent across racial and ethnic groups, according to the National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence. However, the need for extra funding appears great in Hispanic areas because, according to the Alliance, "Several factors, including discrimination and lack of bilingual/bicultural staff, have led to an underutilization of shelters and other domestic violence services by Latinas/os affected by domestic violence."

The Violence Against Women Act, first passed by Congress in 1994 and renewed in 2000 and 2005, removed obstacles that prevent immigrant victims from safely fleeing domestic violence, easing the way for the families of work-visa holders to seek help without fear of deportation. Yet, a study conducted by the Texas Council on Family Violence identified fear of the threat of deportation -- resulting in separation from the victim's children -- as a major reason some battered Latina women do not seek help.

The study also identified other unique barriers to getting help for Latina victims of domestic violence in the U.S., including:

-- Isolation -- The victims often experience increased isolation due to language barriers. Recent immigrants may also be far from a family network to help support them.

-- Lack of Awareness -- Hispanics, more than other groups, tend to be less aware that resources exist to help them escape domestic violence. Many are unaware that help is available in Spanish as well as English.

-- Shame -- The high value the Hispanic culture places on family integrity can mean domestic violence is not discussed outside the family, at a potentially deadly cost.

The Mary Kay Grants

"These Mary Kay foundation grants to shelters in Hispanic areas can help shelters address these barriers and get help to the Latina women and their families who need it," said Anne Crews, member of the MKACF Board of Directors and vice president of Mary Kay Inc. "These shelters need our help, especially during this economic downturn, because they are the front-line resource for battered Latina women and their children, whose needs can be especially great."

WomanHaven, a shelter in El Centro, CA, plans to use its grant specifically to help battered women who have recently immigrated into the U.S. WomanHaven's Deputy Executive Director, Gina Vargas, says "Immigrant Hispanic victims' problems are further complicated by the fact that some come from regions of the world where public officials are people who cannot be trusted, so they suffer abuse in silence and do not seek help."

Other shelters plan to use the grants for purposes ranging from keeping the doors open to keeping staff on board to repairing kitchens or roofs, and for a wide variety of other purposes.

Mary Kay has long recognized the importance of educating women about domestic violence and keeping them safe from it. Mary Kay Inc. provides materials on domestic violence awareness and prevention to its independent sales force which currently exceeds 1.8 million worldwide. In the U.S., nearly 20 percent of the Mary Kay independent sales force members are Latinas. MKACF funds include those contributed by thousands of Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants and by the Foundation's title sponsor, Mary Kay Inc.

For domestic violence statistics in your state, please visit: http://www.ncadv.org/unsorted/statespecificfactsheets_232.html

About MKACF:

The Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation was created in 1996 and its mission is two-fold: to fund research of cancers affecting women and help prevent domestic violence while raising awareness of the issue. Since the Foundation's inception, it has awarded nearly $18 million to shelters and programs addressing domestic violence and $10.8 million to cancer researchers and related causes throughout the United States. To learn more about the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, log on to http://www.mkacf.org or call 1-877-MKCARES (652-2737).

SOURCE Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation

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