In 2011, approximately 21 percent (60.6 million) of individuals in the U.S. ages 5 and older spoke a language other than English at home. While the majority of those individuals also spoke English with native fluency or "very well," about 42 percent (or 25.3 million) were considered Limited English Proficient (LEP). Overall, LEP individuals represent 9 percent of the total US population ages 5 and older (Whatley & Batalova, 2013). While many immigrants in the U.S. come from non-English-speaking countries, not all immigrants are LEP. Of the total immigrant population in 2011, about half were LEP individuals.
Linguistic and cultural barriers represent one of the most difficult challenges for many survivors to overcome, and can lead to isolation from the community, discrimination, and a general lack of knowledge or misinformation regarding the U.S. legal system and its available resources. In order to provide enhanced safety planning and ensure meaningful access to services while supporting victims of domestic violence in making informed choices, it is imperative for those assisting them to fully address existing language barriers.