Glendale: Languages added to abuse hotline

Glendale News Press
Aug 12 2004

Languages added to abuse hotline

Armenian callers looking for help for domestic violence will be
routed to Glendale YWCA.

By Darleene Barrientos, News-Press

GLENDALE – An abused woman seeking help shouldn’t be required to
speak English to get it.

That’s the conclusion officials with the Los Angeles County District
Attorney’s office came to when they decided to add Armenian, Tagalog,
Japanese, Thai and Khmer to the options of languages spoken on the
county’s Domestic Violence Hotline.

Since the county has always offered English, Spanish and Korean,
along with Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese, the Glendale YWCA was
tapped to offer telephone operators who can speak Armenian to victims
of domestic violence.

“This area is just diversifying more and more,” said Carol Baker,
director of crime prevention and youth services for the district
attorney. “We have lots of new communities, lots of different
cultures. They’re large enough so they can be very insular, but
domestic violence cuts across all cultures. Language shouldn’t be a

Women looking for help can call (800) 978-3600 and ask for an
Armenian speaker, who will listen to the caller and refer her to the
nearest shelter or service center. The Center for the Pacific Asian
Family will field calls for Asian languages, including Tagalog or

Spanish, Armenian, Korean and Tagalog are the four languages besides
English most spoken in Glendale homes, according to the Glendale
Unified School District.

About 35% to 40% of Glendale’s population is of Armenian descent and
the city is believed to have the largest population of Armenians
outside of the home country. But Armenian families are scattered
throughout Los Angeles County, in areas like Hollywood, Pasadena,
North Hollywood, Van Nuys and Montebello, YWCA case manager Tamara
Tombakian said.

Many Armenian women looking for help are surprised to hear someone
speaking their own language, Tombakian said.

“They don’t realize there is organizations of people who will
actually help them,” she said.

But being able to understand and be understood is so important to
someone who is being abused.

“Something as delicate as this – family issues, cultural beliefs – I
think if we miss a lot of that emotion, if we miss a lot of the
experience that person has gone through, you don’t get the exact
emotion,” Tombakian said.

“It also inhibits the caller. If they’re trying to speak a language
that’s not their primary language, they’re trying to think about how
to say what they’ve gone through instead of trying to get support.”