Earlier this past week, I had the unique opportunity to attend a workshop led by Leslye Orloff, the Director of the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project at American University Washington College of Law. The focus of the presentation was educating the audience on ways to help immigrant survivors of domestic violence. The workshop was very detailed and included a lot of relevant examples, and by the end of the day, my head was bursting with information that I just could not wait to share with everyone I know cares about this issue.
The focus of this post is the Myths and Realities about the instances of domestic violence among immigrant women. After perusing them, I quickly realized that most of these apply to any case of domestic violence.
Myth # 1
Domestic violence is a private family business.
Domestic violence is a crime and everyone who experiences it deserves the protection, help, and services afforded to victims of other crimes.
Women are responsible for the abuse they suffer because they provoke it.
Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors that abusers use to impose their will and control their victims. The abused are not responsible for the abuser’s behavior and do not deserve such treatment by anyone, family member or not.
Domestic violence is a consequence of alcohol and drug abuse.
Many abusers don’t abuse alcohol and drugs and many people who abuse alcohol and drugs are not domestic abusers. Rather, domestic abusers often use drugs and alcohol as an excuse for their violent behavior and refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
If the immigrant woman leaves her abuser, she will lose custody of her children because she does not possess proper documentation.
In general, the judge is interested in protecting the rights of the children and looking after their best interest. The court will consider any evidence of abuse in the outcome of custody cases.
With no immigration papers, there is no right to receive social or legal services.
All immigrant victims of domestic violence, regardless of their immigration status, have the right to emergency services.
If the victim of domestic abuse calls the police, she will face deportation because she is undocumented.
The police have the obligation to protect victims of abuse regardless of their immigration status. Without calling the police, they will not be able to intervene and assist.
*The above information has been obtained from a pamphlet created by Sonia Parras Konrad, Esq. and the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence.