Domestic violence is an epidemic that affects men, women and children around the world. In United States alone, nearly 20 people are physically abused by their intimate partner every minute: in total, more than 10 million women and men in a year.
The statistics are actually alarming:
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some type of physical violence from an intimate partner.
- 1 in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner and no data is available on male victims.
- Domestic violence is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior and only 34% of victims receive medical care for their injuries.
- 1 in 15 children is exposed to incidents of violence every year and 90% are eyewit
Among the risks that immigrants face in the country, domestic violence is one of the most common. Given that the majority of victims are left helpless, a culture should be established in which they feel safe to report and get help.
What’s domestic violence?
Domestic violence is behavior in which one of the spouses or romantic partners behaves in an abusive manner. These actions seek to pressure, win or maintain control over the other, to subdue him and exercise power over his partner.
Although most of the time it’s the man who assaults his partner or children, the opposite can also happen.
Does reporting domestic violence affect your immigration status?
No. It’s important that you know that if you are a victim of domestic violence regardless of your immigration status, your rights will be guaranteed, according to the law.
- You have the right to request protection orders for yourself and your children, legal separation or divorce without the consent of the spouse, custody of your children and financial assistance.
- If the person who abuses you accuses you of a crime, you have the right as a victim to consult an attorney, not answer questions without an attorney present, and speak in your defense.
- Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have access to various resources through governmental or non-governmental agencies, such as: counseling, interpreters, preparation of safety plans, emergency housing, and monetary assistance.
- You have special legal options to obtain immigration status if you are undocumented: U Visa and VAWA.
What are the types of domestic violence?
There are different types of domestic violence that are categorized as crimes in the eyes of US law.
- Physical violence: hitting, pushing, kicking, sexual assault or assault, rape, and child abuse.
- Psychological violence: emotional abuse, insults, manipulation, intimidation, humiliation and threats.
- Financial violence: taking your money, controlling it in its entirety, or forcing you to ask for it.
Threatening to take the children, to report them to immigration, withhold their identity documents, passport and visa, is also considered violence.
What are the problems that affect only immigrants?
- It’s abuse if your partner threatens to call immigration or lies about whether you are in the US
- It’s abuse if your partner refuses to file documents that can keep you in the US
- It’s abuse if your partner tries to prohibit you from learning English or doing other activities so that you don’t know what your rights are, like getting an education or getting a job.
Are there immigration benefits granted to immigrant victims of violence?
Yes, you can obtain immigration benefits through processes such as the U Visa and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
How can you report domestic violence in the US?
It’s very important to report the aggressor, because peace and tranquility are rights that no one can deny you.
There are several ways in which complaints of domestic violence can be filed, depending on the nature of the assault:
- Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, option 2.
- Call the National Sexual Assault Online Helpline at 800-656-4673.
- If you know or suspect that a child has been the victim of abuse, contact the State Agency for Child Protective Services by calling 1-800-422-4453.
Don’t forget that in case of emergency or immediate danger, call 911 or contact the local Police.
What’s the punishment for domestic violence?
Committing crimes of domestic violence has consequences for all offenders, regardless of their immigration status, and the penalty depends on the type of crime and the state where it occurred.
Among the most common punishments we have:
- Issuance of restraining orders that prevent the aggressor from approaching the victim.
- Fine in financial compensation for physical and moral damages caused.
- Assistance to Rehabilitation Programs.
- Loss of custody of children and visitation rights.
- Loss of Driver’s License or Possession of Weapons.
Can I lose my residence due to domestic violence?
US law provides severe punishments for offenders. Any foreigner convicted of domestic violence can be deported.
Once convicted, the offender’s deportation can happen almost automatically, preventing almost any recourse for relief. Once outside the United States, a ban order will be issued to prevent your re-entry.
Can the domestic violence charges be dropped?
The answer to this question varies, since each state regulates matters related to criminal history differently and also depends on the seriousness of the crime committed.
Lesser charges may be dropped if a certain amount of time has elapsed between the time the crime was committed and the request to expunge the record.
For cases related to murder, rape or sexual assault, crimes with weapons and crimes against minors under 18 years of age, the erasure of the record cannot be requested.
We hope this information is useful for you!
At Tramites de Inmigracion USA Corp we have a team of experts in immigration matters, who will be able to advise you so that you can effectively resolve all your procedures.
If you are going through this difficult situation and you or a loved one are suffering abuse at home, don’t hesitate to call us at 1 (786) 776-7152 or 1 (786) 786-5088, here we will give you the best advice and a helping hand.