Christine Torres has been helping sexual assault victims who otherwise might remain isolated.
Torres is the Spanish Speaking Services Coordinator for The Bridge.
And recently, she received the National Sexual Assault Resource Center’s National Visionary Voice Award, representing Nebraska.
Carly Beusch of the Nebraska Coalition to End Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault presented the award.
The Visionary Voice Award is designed to recognize the creativity and hard work of people around the country who’ve demonstrated outstanding work to end sexual violence.
Each year, state, territory and tribal coalitions choose an outstanding person to nominate for the award.
The nomination for Torres stated in part that she works almost exclusively with immigrant and limited-English-proficient survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
“She has been a blessing to some of the most vulnerable victims, including undocumented immigrant victims of sexual violence, including both adults and children,” the nomination states. “In many cases, the victim does not speak English or have legal status in the United States, and therefore barriers to seeking help through an advocate or the criminal justice system are far greater. These issues are even more complicated when the victim is a young child.”
Torres was commended for helping guide clients in navigating a complex system in another language, serving as a source of comfort and providing referrals for legal and medical assistance.
“She provides assistance in an effort to ensure that all of her clients’ major needs are addressed,” the nomination added. “For some, it is limited assistance, but for others, especially those who seek humanitarian immigration relief, she provides long-term, in-depth assistance to her clients.”
The nomination also stated that Torres’ clients truly appreciate her and she continuously seeks to improve her knowledge and skills and searches out new training opportunities.
Torres, who is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, has been at The Bridge for three years.
Before she came to The Bridge, Torres was a call center director in Omaha for six years. That job involved a lot of traveling to places like the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Mexico.
“I needed something that was meaningful in my life — to do something that made a difference,” she said.
The Bridge provides services for people who’ve experienced domestic abuse or sexual assault and serves five counties — Burt, Cuming, Dodge, Saunders and Washington.
Torres provides advocacy services for English- and Spanish-speaking clientele, who’ve been sexually assaulted.
For one client, Torres may complete 200 pages of paperwork. It’s extensive, detailed work that involves making phone calls and gathering documents for Beusch, the lawyer representing the client.
Torres has other responsibilities as well.
On Mondays, she works with an afterschool program for English- and Spanish-speaking youth in West Point. The program involves healthy boundaries for children from preschool-age through sixth grade.
“You start teaching healthy boundaries at an early age and when they get older they have a better grasp of that,” she said.
Torres also coordinates a women’s support group for Spanish-speaking individuals.
She facilitates a women’s support group in Spanish and English called, Wise and Well, which meets on Thursdays in Fremont and helps participants learn better coping skills.
“I love what I do here at The Bridge,” Torres said. “The staff is amazing, the clients that we work with are just as amazing and just as strong and brave for doing the work and coming out and speaking about things that aren’t otherwise spoken about.”
Torres also said she loves the satisfaction of helping a woman move forward in life even in a small way that someone else might take for granted, such as taking a driver’s license exam.
Many times, the clients are isolated and unfamiliar with the resources available for them or don’t have access to them.
Torres added that besides Spanish-speaking clients, she also works with many from Guatemala who speak a dialect known as K’iche’.
She doesn’t speak K’iche’, but said she and clients work through that.
Torres said she feels good when a client stops by or calls or sends an email, letting her know they’re doing all right.
Her future plans include continuous learning.
“I’m so new in this line of work — there’s so much more to learn,” she said. “I’m always in webinars and trying to learn more — hitting the pavement and learning as much as I can because every situation is different, every client is different.”