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Latina Victims of Domestic Violence Getting More Attention

Women in bridal gowns protest against domestic violence in New York
Women in bridal gowns protest against domestic violence during an annual march through the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York on September 26, 2013. Every year women wear bridal gowns and men in tuxedos to commemorate Gladys Ricart, who was shot to death in 1999 by a former abusive boyfriend on her wedding day. © Joshua Lott / Reuters / REUTERS
/ Source: NBC News

Marilyn Bautista describes herself as a strong Latina, a mother, an advocate, and a domestic violence and sexual abuse survivor.

“I just want to tell people that are going through (domestic violence and sexual assault) that they are not alone, and that it’s not their fault,” said the Laredo, Texas, native.

Bautista said she faced abuse for over a year and half from her professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter boyfriend. After the birth of her second child, she realized that she needed to get out of her situation, and she did. She never pressed charges, but did get a restraining order, she said.

People going through domestic violence and sexual assault "are worth so much more than they are told,” Bautista said. “We are all here in this world to do great things and no one has the right to take that away from us.”

Bautista’s story is one of thousands in the nation and as a Latina, representative of women who are getting more attention as the overall Latino population grows in the country.

The anti-domestic violence group NO MORE, which created the first domestic violence commercial to air during the Super Bowl last February, plans to launch a NO MÁS campaign in September, during Hispanic Heritage Month, geared toward Latinas.

Related: NBC Debuts Chilling Anti-Domestic Violence Super Bowl PSA

The group has enlisted top celebrities in its NO MORE campaign. Cherie Daly, known for her roles in "Pretty Little Liars" and "Newsroom," became heavily involved after surviving domestic abuse from her boyfriend.

“It’s hard to be open about something like (domestic violence), but it’s important to speak about it,” the 27-year-old actress said.

The Avon Foundation for Women commissioned a study of domestic violence and Latinas for NO MORE and Casa de Esperanza. The study, called NO MÁS found the chief barrier preventing Latinas from seeking help or bringing to light domestic violence is the fear of deportation.

Juan Carlos Areán, senior director of the National Latino Network for Healthy Families and Communities, a Casa de Esperanza project, said language is another barrier. Areán said the NO MÁS campaign is expected to be in English and Spanish.

The survey of 800 Latinas nationwide over age 18, found that one in four Latinos know someone who is a victim of sexual assault. Nearly 50 percent of all surveyed know a domestic violence victim. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed said the consider drugs and alcohol abuse are the leading cause for domestic violence and sexual assault in the United States.

However, nearly two-thirds of Latinas surveyed and who knew a victim of domestic violence said they had intervened and done something for the victim.

“One thing I was excited to see was the hope, strength and resilience of the Latino community. Also, the willingness for things to be changed,” said Areán.

The telephone survey, conducted by Lake Research, was done between Jan. 27 and Feb. 10 and included oversamples of 100 immigrants who had arrived in the past five years and 100 Latinas ages 18 to 30. Thirty percent of the interviews were done in Spanish, with the Latinas identified randomly by Spanish surname and then screened to confirm they are Latina. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.