Domestic violence is a serious and pervasive problem in California. Unfortunately, some immigrants who are victims may be fearful of reporting their abuse because of potential immigration problems. Others may not understand the legal system in the U.S. and may be isolated from their support systems.
Domestic abusers often take advantage of these fears in order to perpetuate their acts of violence against the victims. Smart domestic violence prevention programs should include an outreach component to victims within the immigrant communities. With education and outreach, the victims may become aware of the resources that are available to them and less afraid of coming forward.
In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act. This law provides a way for the victims of domestic violence to secure legal status in the U.S. without having to rely on their abusers’ sponsorship. Some victims are still fearful despite this law because of the current hardline immigration stance that the current administration has taken. Victims of domestic violence have legal protections available to them regardless of their immigration statuses, however.
It is important for domestic violence victims to take steps to get away from their abusers. Before they leave, they might want to get help from experienced family law attorneys. Some of the most dangerous times for domestic violence victims is when they are leaving. The lawyers may help to find safe locations for their clients. They may then help by filing petitions for restraining orders. The attorneys may assist their clients in making reports to law enforcement so that they may be protected from the perpetrators. Finally, the lawyers may assist their clients by referring them to lawyers who practice in the area of immigration law so that they can gain legal status under the VAWA.