Two years after conducting this community assessment in Baltimore, my paper, Connecting Hispanic Women in Baltimore to the Mercy Medical Center Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners/Forensic Nurse Examiners Program: A Preliminary Assessment of Service Utilization and Community Awareness, has been published in the Journal of Forensic Nursing.
ABSTRACT: Sexual violence and gender-based violence represent a major public health problem causing significant negative mental, physical, and social outcomes for victims. The rapidly growing population of Hispanic women in Baltimore are both more vulnerable to sexual assault and less able to access postassault services. In an effort to assess service utilization and community awareness of the Mercy Medical Center Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners/Forensic Nurse Examiners Program, we conducted a retrospective chart review of 2,322 women who were seen by the program between 2010 and 2013 and found that only 2.5% of the women were identified as Hispanic, about half of what Baltimore City demographic data would predict. This exploratory pilot project, augmented by key informant interviews, reveals that Hispanic women are underutilizing sexual assault services. Multiple barriers exist for Hispanic women in obtaining victim services, including lack of awareness within the community that the services exist, cultural factors, language barriers, lack of awareness of legal rights, and a fear of deportation.