Undocumented Victims of Domestic Violence Often Stay When they Want Divorce

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Divorce on Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Domestic violence is a serious problem that permeates through the United States, and it affects many people without selection whatever their race, culture, income level or residence. Domestic violence is often hard to quantify and study because so often victims chose to remain anonymous for many different reasons.

For undocumented individuals, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that many fear deportation. Either they choose not to seek the assistance of law enforcement, medical personnel or an attorney because of a lack of knowledge of the law or because their abusive partner has claimed that they have the power to deport them. Many victims simply remain with an abusive partner instead of seeking the divorce they desperately want.

When one spouse is a United States citizen and the other is not, they can exploit the fear that if immigration officials get involved, the undocumented parent will be deported or lose their children. “He would tell me he is American, born here, and I’m Mexican and I don’t have papers,” said one undocumented victim. “That’s what he told me, that he was able to call immigration to deport me to Mexico, and because of fear of him taking my daughter away I would stay with him.”

Another problem facing many of the victims of domestic violence is that they do not have access to financial resources or in some cases even transportation to anywhere with someone who can help. Without being able to talk to an experienced attorney or advocate, these victims remain in the dark about their options. Their abuser often makes the victim think that they hold all of the power, and they prey on the victim’s lack of understanding of the complex legal system.

What the victims often do not realize is that they do have options, and that there are people out there waiting to help them, as we will see in the second part of this two part post.

Source: ABC15.com “Undocumented domestic abuse victims face hurdles” Rebekah Zemansky 1/3/11

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