Nobody should live in fear for their safety or their lives, or for the safety of others they love. Most immigrants have come to this country in search of a better life, and many of them have escaped terrible, violent situations. Sadly, too many of them are still living with abuse every day in Texas and across the country. Domestic violence is a large problem that affects American citizens and non-citizens alike. However, domestic violence against immigrants has its own unique challenges.
As the National Domestic Violence Hotline explains, abusers try to control their victims to keep them from leaving. They can use emotional or physical methods to keep their victims under their control. In situations in which the victim is an immigrant, abusers have more tools to use against the immigrant to prevent their escape. These can include the following:
- Threatening to report the victim to immigration authorities for deportation
- Isolating the victim from visiting or talking to family members or friends living nearby or in his or her native country
- Preventing the victim from learning English or getting a job
- Taking away or destroying the victim’s resident cards, passport and other legal documents Threatening to interfere with the victim’s petition for legal status or to lie to employers and authorities that the victim is undocumented
- Threatening to harm or take away the children
Abusers also rely on their victim not knowing their legal rights for protection against domestic violence. Immigrants who are being abused may feel trapped, fearing that they will be deported if they try to divorce their abusers. They might not know that the Violence Against Women Act helps immigrant spouses and children seek protection from their abusers and petition to stay in the country.
Laws exist to protect everyone from being abused by a family member, and these include immigrants who are victims of domestic violence.