In order to make the best resources for any situation available, it is important to establish a comprehensive definition of what domestic violence is.
According to the United Nations, domestic violence is, “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.”
Given this definition, resources for immigrants who are experiencing domestic violence should be explored.
Although the rates of domestic violence across the U.S are relatively the same, the ways that immigrants experience domestic violence is different than that of citizens. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, there are six different tactics that are commonly used by abusers to maintain power and control over immigrants:
Isolation is when an abuser attempts to isolate the victim by limiting communication outside of the relationship. In relationships where the victim is an immigrant, this can also look like prevention from learning English, or being cut off from those who have the same cultural background as the victim.
Intimidation is the act of destroying possessions or harming the victim, in order to make them afraid to leave the relationship. In situations where the victim is an immigrant, this can often look like shredding legal documents, passports, visas, or drivers licenses.
In situations where the victim is an immigrant, threats of revoking of petitions for legal status or threats of deportation are very common. While this is often threatened to the victim, it can also be directed towards the victim's family or friends. Threats are used to provoke feelings of danger and make the victim feel unsafe.
3. Manipulation Regarding Citizenship or Residency
Given the definition and examples of threats, manipulation regarding citizenship or residency is the abuser following through on claims of withdrawing important legal paperwork. This is a tactic used to make the victim feel trapped, and make them afraid to report the abuse in fear of not being granted legal status.
4. Financial Abuse
Financial abuse refers to withholding money in order to force dependency on the abuser in the relationship. In cases where the victim is an immigrant, this may look like attempting to get one fired in order to make the victim think that they will lose their visa, or falsely reporting to the victim’s place of employment that they are undocumented, or revealing other aspects of their immigration status.
5. Leveraging Children
Leveraging children is a tactic used by abusers in a relationship where the victim is an immigrant. Abusers will often make threats to have law enforcement notified to take away their children in order to make the victim afraid of contacting law enforcement about the abuse, especially if the victim is unfamiliar with U.S legal proceedings.
Given these tactics used by abusers in situations where the victim is an immigrant, there is a plethora of resources available in order for immigrant victims to get help and get out of the abusive situation that they are in. The list of resources and their contact information will be listed below.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 and is completely confidential. They provide services such as educational resources, legal assistance, health resources, and the creation of a personalized safety plan.
Esperanza United is a Latinx advocacy organization that provides services such as COVID-19 resources, immigrant rights resources, resources for youth, and family advocacy assistance.
Futures Without Violence is an advocacy coalition that provides services such as support for youth living in abusive households, resources for experiencing abuse in the workplace, resources for men, and education and services related to health and wellness.
Where you can find these resources:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
24/7 Hotline Call: +1 (800) 799-7233
Textline: “START” to 88788
Administrative Line: (737) 225-3150
24/7 Minnesota Hotline: (651) 772-1611
Minnesota Office: (651) 646-5553
National Hotline: +1 (800) 799-7233
Futures Without Violence
San Francisco Office: (415) 678-5500
Washington D.C Office: (202) 595-7382