The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was created to protect victims of domestic violence, and offers specific protections for people without legal status in the United States whether they are men, women, children or parents of US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders). You may worry that you do not have the right to call the police if you are being abused, but that is not true.

"Domestic violence" may refers to many kinds of abuse committed by a member of a family, a household, or your spouse against another member of the family, household, or against the spouse.

When you contact police about domestic violence, their duty is to protect you from your abuser. They are not suppose to call ICE to inform them you are in the United States without legal status.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and you do not have legal status in the US, you should contact an experienced, knowledgeable immigration lawyer who should be mature enough to understand and assist with your case. Do not worry if you do not have enough evidence because many victims are in the same place as you. Your lawyer should assist you in the gathering of the evidence as well as drafting a very detail affidavits regarding your domestic violence.

Do not fall in the common steoreotypes about all survivors of domestic violence include the ideas that:

  • it is easy to leave an abusive situation;
  • women return to an abusive relationship because they like the abuse, because they deserve to be abused, because they have psychological problems, or because they are co-dependent on their abusers;
  • domestic violence only happens to women of color, or women who are poor or uneducated;
  • domestic violence always involves physical abuse; 
  • men cannot be victims of domestic violence;
  • immigrants do not have the right to be in the United States;
  • immigrants marry solely for immigrant purposes;
  • abused immigrant women are only abused by other members of their immigrant community; and
  • abused immigrants are so-called "mail order brides;"


Domestic violence involves an abuser's ongoing conduct of asserting power and control over a spouse, partner or child. Domestic violence includes both physical and non-physical forms of abuse. A number of tactics might be used by abusers to dominate a spouse, partner or child, and some of these methods are specific to abused immigrants. To complicate matters, many immigrants who experience domestic violence are unaware of various resources that may be available to them. An abuser's methods used to control an abused immigrant woman are reinforced where the woman lack information about available legal, medical and social resources. Also, many women do not know that domestic violence is a crime, and lack information about how domestic violence and sexual assault are addressed in the United States. In some cases the abuse started while they were in their homelands whereas in other cases the abuse began upon their arrival in the USA. Whatever is your situation, do not lose your hope. Contact a competent, experience and mature immigration attorney to guide you in this complex journey.

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