- Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
- Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
Who experiences Domestic Violence?
- Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
What can I do?
- There are a variety of services available to assist you. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to take advantage of many resources in your area. Some services available to you include: domestic violence shelters, hospitals, police, legal aid and counseling and support groups..
Domestic violence is against the law. The police can:
- Respond to an emergency call for help.
- Escort you and your children out of the house and help you locate a safe place to stay if you want to leave.
- Arrest your partner if they believe a crime has been committed.
If you call the Police:
- Find someone other than your child or abuser to interpret for you.
- Ask the police to complete a report about the incident and get an incident report number so that you can get a copy of the report.
- Ask for and write down the name and badge number of the officer making the report.
- Important: If your partner is taken into custody, he may be released in as soon as two hours. You may use this time to find a safe place to go.
- The police generally will not turn in a woman reporting domestic violence to immigration authorities.
Can I leave my home if I am in danger?
- You can go to a friend or family member’s house or a women’s shelter if you are in danger. If you stay with a friend or family member, keep your location a secret if possible. Shelters are usually free and will likely have information about other services available in your community. You have the right to keep your immigration status private. If you leave your home, it is also helpful to bring the documents suggested in part 6 of the information sheets.
I have heard of protection orders. What do they do?
- Coming near you
- Attacking or sexually assaulting you
- Contacting you, your children or other family members In most states, you can also ask for custody of your children and child support. You may also be able to ask that the batterer be removed from your home and that the batterer not interfere with your immigration status.
Can I get a protection order even if I am not a U.S. citizen?
- You do not need to be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident to get a protection order. A lawyer may be helpful, but one is not necessary to get a protection or restraining order.
- You may obtain an application for a protection order at: courthouses, women’s shelters, legal services offices and some police stations.
- A court generally will not ask about your immigration status when you ask for a protection order, a child custody order or dissolution of marriage.
- Ask a legal services attorney (attorneys who provide free legal services to low-income individuals) or an immigrant advocacy group in your area about the policy in your court.
My husband is threatening to take my children away if I leave him. What can I do?
- Get a custody order. This order may include an order to prohibit your husband or intimate partner from removing the children from the country in which you live.
- Give a copy of the order to your children’s school and tell the school staff not to release the children to anyone but you.
- If the children are U.S. citizens, send a copy of the order to the embassy in your partner’s home country and a copy to the U.S. Department of State to prevent them from issuing passports and visas for the children.
- Make sure that you have recent photos, passports and birth certificates for the children. Keep a list of addresses and phone numbers of your husband’s or intimate partner’s friends and relatives in his home country.
- If you are now a U.S. citizen, or you are a lawful permanent resident or you possess a valid G4 visa, you cannot be deported.
How can I support myself and my children if I leave my husband?
- The law requires that the father of your children support them, even if you are living apart or were never married to him and regardless of immigration status. Contact a family lawyer or a domestic violence advocate to find out how to obtain child support in your state. The DA Coordinator or WBFN can help with names of attorneys who specialize in these areas.
Other considerations for support:
- Some married women may also be eligible to receive spousal support or alimony.
- Lawful permanent residents may use their “green cards” or resident alien cards to demonstrate their eligibility to work.
- G4 visa holders are eligible to work but must apply for and receive employment authorization before commencing employment. The application form must be signed by the organization that employs the principal G4 visa holder, but the staff member’s permission is not required for the application to go forward.
- An immigration attorney will be able to tell you whether you are eligible for work authorization.
Will my husband or intimate partner be deported if I take action?
- If you seek assistance from a shelter or lawyer, it is extremely unlikely that your partner will be deported.
- If you contact the police and your partner is convicted of a crime, he may be deported, depending on his immigration status and the seriousness of the crime.
- It is important to remember that you must keep yourself and your children safe. It is your partner’s actions that have put him at risk.
Do I need to see an immigration attorney even if I cannot afford one?
- Do not go to the INS without a lawyer or without consulting with a lawyer. Your conversation with the attorney will be confidential, and he or she cannot report you to the INS. If you cannot afford to pay an attorney, contact the nearest legal services office or immigration organization or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).