Don't ignore domestic violence on the basis of immigration fears

Victims of domestic violence often face significant emotional and practical hurdles to seeking appropriate help. For immigrants, there may even be additional obstacles.

A local Knoxville YWCA is doing its part to offer concrete assistance and resources to victims of domestic violence. Made possible by a grant from the Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee, the YWCA offers housing options for victims who need immediate assistance in fleeing from an abusive environment. The YWCA also has a coordinator who provides counseling and practical advice about the next steps that a victim might take.

According to the coordinator’s description of her interactions, many abuse victims may hesitate to seek help because of the uncertainties surrounding their transition to independence. Those fears start with where to stay the first night they leave their abusive spouse or partner.

In addition, victims in the Latino and Hispanic communities may have immigration concerns. For example, if only the abusive spouse has a work visa, a victim may avoid help because they don’t know how they would support their children on their own. Others may have fears about their residency status and fear deportation.

Our immigration law firm has helped many victims of domestic violence. One of the first things we tell our clients is that many laws are on the side of domestic abuse victims. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, the U visa is expressly intended to provide immigration relief for victims of domestic violence and several other crimes. Victims should also not underplay the abuse they have suffered. The law recognizes that abuse may take mental and/or physical forms, and both might rise to the level of victimization.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, “YWCA launches new Anderson County, TN outreach for domestic violence,” Lynda J. Edwards, Dec. 19, 2016

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