Domestic violence is a serious concern in Pennsylvania and around the country. In recent years, there has been increased awareness of intimate partner violence and ways to prevent it. However, immigrants who are victims of domestic violence are often particularly vulnerable.
Immigrants to the U.S. often face significant challenges regardless of how harmonious their marriages might be. For example, many immigrants may not be fluent in English or understand U.S. laws or customs. Unfortunately, abusers will take advantage of these circumstances as a way of preventing the victim from seeking help.
One particularly egregious tactic is for an abuser to threaten deportation if the victim contacts the police or leaves. However, the federal Violence Against Women Act, which applies to both men and women who are victims of abuse, offers protection to abuse victims who seek interventions from law enforcement or decide to separate from an abuser.
Individuals who are being abused often benefit from seeking assistance from domestic violence agencies in the area where they live. In addition, many police departments have special training in working with domestic violence victims.
Domestic violence victims who are concerned about their immigration status may also benefit from speaking with a family law attorney. The lawyer may be able to review the client's case and make recommendations regarding next steps, including pursuing a divorce and seeking protection orders. In addition, the attorney might be able to advise the client on his or her right to remain and work in the United States, regardless of marital status.