One local woman repeatedly faced abuse but didn't report the domestic violence incidents to police because her abuser told her the authorities would deport her.
But with the help of Lydia Linder, a bilingual victim advocate for the 16th Circuit Solicitor's Office, the abused woman is working with the justice system to prosecute the offender.
"The violence became so bad she finally reported it," Linder said. "I've been able to help her, and she's comfortable having someone to trust."
The woman is one of more than 20 Spanish-speaking crime victims Linder has helped through the court system since her position was created in July.
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Linder has dealt primarily with victims who don't speak English, like at least 12,000 other York County residents, according to Barbara Guidry from the International Center of York County.
Linder's job is to offer support, information and assistance to victims and witnesses of crimes as their case makes its way through the criminal justice system.
"Everyone should have equal access to justice -- not be left out because they don't speak English," Linder said. "The victims are more at ease just having someone that understands them."
A grant from the Victims of Crime Act, a federally funded program, helped create her position. Solicitor Kevin Brackett recently asked the York County Council for permission to reapply for the grant. In its second year, the county would commit to $9,200 in matching funds, about $300 less than last year, Brackett said.
Linder grew up in a household that spoke Spanish, and she has worked with victims of domestic violence and the homeless. She hasn't taken any language classes, but she has been studying legal terms in Spanish.
As one of four advocates with Brackett's office, Linder isn't limited to working with Spanish-speaking victims. "We keep her busy," Brackett said. "We need to make sure the victim has a voice and helps the system hold the offender accountable."
So far, Linder has helped Spanish-speaking victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Fear of being deported deters some victims from reporting crimes, but Brackett said he's interested only in getting justice, not deporting crime victims.
"Some people victimize Hispanic people because they hope they won't report it," Brackett said. "And some -- not all -- don't have bank accounts, which may make them a more appealing target."
Linder is working to become a certified court interpreter; she translates for the York County Sheriff's Office, magistrate court, probation department and where needed, Brackett said.
Before Linder's position was added, Brackett said there wasn't always someone who spoke Spanish available; some translation was done with high school knowledge of the language.
Like other victim advocates, Linder keeps the victims informed of the case status, attends court with them and helps them tell the court how a crime has affected them. Linder is there to explain to victims what's being said in court.
Linder has translated forms, brochures and letters the solicitor's office gives victims into Spanish.
"It's very rewarding," Linder said of her position. "It's nice to know I'm helping."