Author: Gregory M. Chase, MS, MSHED, PA-C, RN.
Dr. David Sellen, PhD precepting
On average, than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.
One in three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.Questions & Answers for Immigrant and Refugee Women Dealing with Domestic Violence
If you need help, advocates with the National Domestic Violence Hotline understand immigration issues and can talk with you about your situation. The Hotline has Spanish speakers available, as well as translators for more than 140 languages, 24-hours a day. For help, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
Information for Victims of Trafficking in Persons and Forced Labor Describes acts which may constitute trafficking in persons and forced labor and encourages victims of trafficking to report their situation. Information about governmental and non-governmental resources for victims is provided. Read more about forced or slave labor.
Please see the definition of domestic violence on our Get Help page. If you are an immigrant or refugee in an abusive relationship, you may face unique issues that make it hard to reach out for help. This page will help you to better understand your situation and the resources available to you or someone you know. Click on the questions below for more information.
There are a variety of services available to assist you. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to take advantage of many resources in your area. Some services available to you include: domestic violence shelters, hospitals, police, legal aid and counseling and support groups. The other sections on this page provide information about accessing services for immigrants.
Domestic violence is against the law.
The police can:
You can go to a friend or family member’s house or a women's shelter if you are in danger. If you stay with a friend or family member, keep your location a secret if possible. Shelters are usually free and will likely have information about other services available in your community. You have the right to keep your immigration status private.If you leave your home, it is also helpful to bring documents such as:
A protection order can prevent the abuser from:
Can I get a protection order even if I am not a U.S. citizen?
You may obtain an application for a protection order at: courthouses, women's shelters, legal services offices and some police stations.
A court generally will not ask about your immigration status when you ask for a protection order, a child custody order or dissolution of marriage.
o Ask a legal services attorney (attorneys who provide free legal services to low-income individuals) or an immigrant advocacy group in your area about the policy in your court.
If your partner is threatening to kidnap your children or flee to his home country with them, you can: <
If you are now a U.S. citizen, or you are a lawful permanent resident or you possess a valid visa, you cannot be deported unless you entered the United States with fraudulent documents, violated conditions of your visa or have committed certain crimes.
If you are undocumented or are unsure about your immigration status, you should seek the assistance of an immigration attorney to see if you can legalize your status. Until then, you should do what you need to do to make yourself safe.
Women who are married to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents have two ways to get their residency independently (Important: You should first consult a shelter advocate, immigration attorney or domestic violence agency for assistance before applying for either of these options).
If you don't qualify for either of these, don't despair. The best thing to do is to discuss your situation with an immigration or domestic violence advocate.
The law requires that the father of your children support them, even if you are living apart or were never married to him and regardless of immigration status. Contact a family lawyer or a domestic violence advocate to find out how to obtain child support in your state.
Other considerations for support:
An immigration attorney will be able to tell you whether you are eligible for work authorization.
If you seek assistance from a shelter or lawyer, it is extremely unlikely that your partner will be deported.
If you contact the police and your partner is convicted of a crime, he may be deported, depending on his immigration status and the seriousness of the crime.
It is important to remember that you must keep yourself and your children safe. It is your partner’s actions that have put him at risk.
Do not go to the INS without a lawyer or without consulting with a lawyer. Your conversation with the attorney will be confidential, and he or she cannot report you to the INS. If you cannot afford to pay an attorney, contact the nearest legal services office or immigration organization or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help.
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