Many immigrants who travel to and settle in the United States are subjected to poor living conditions and possibly even abusive relationships. As an immigrant, you may feel disoriented in a new country and may think that you have no power to speak up against domestic violence. Many immigrants who experience abuse, particularly those here illegally, keep quiet because they are afraid of the possibility of deportation or retaliation from their abusers. However, in the United States immigrants have certain rights regardless of their immigration status, which may help you escape a cycle of violence at home.Overcoming Your FearsIf you or your children are being abused at home, you are likely suffering from both physical and emotional distress. Your abusive spouse may try to intimidate you to prevent you from trying to leave. He may call you demeaning names, try to take away your and your children’s papers, threaten to report you or have you deported, or otherwise make threats to scare you into staying silent. Even if you are in the country illegally, there are services available to you to help you and your children stay safe.Rights and Options for Immigrant Domestic Violence VictimsIf you are a victim of spousal abuse, consider seeking help through the following services and options:
Women’s shelters. Women may seek care and assistance at a battered women’s shelter and do not have to reveal their immigration status.
Restraining orders. Anyone may file a restraining order against an abusive spouse, regardless of whether you are a citizen or legal resident.
Police assistance. If you or your children have been victims of a crime, you can report the crime to the police and do not have to reveal your residency status.
Emergency medical care. If you or your children have suffered injuries from abuse, you may seek medical attention at an emergency treatment facility even if you are not in the country legally.
If you are considering separating from an abusive spouse, consider contacting an experienced domestic violence lawyer. He or she can review the details of your situation and help you decide on a course of action to keep you and your family safe.For More InformationTo learn more about immigrant domestic violence issues, please contact the compassionate, experienced Austin domestic violence lawyers Slater Kennon & Jameson, LLP today.