By Jamiliah Francis
Life in America, though it should be a wonderful experience, may turn out to be a nightmare for some persons. Certain relationships, whether intimate or otherwise, can bring about so much turmoil that it may cause individuals, especially women, to become very hopeless.
You may find yourself in a relationship, hoping to experience love, peace of mind, happiness and security, but in truth and in fact, your life becomes a living hell. You become a victim of abuse, whether emotionally, physically or otherwise.
This type of situation frequently occurs when a person, be it a man or a woman is undocumented and is seeking to be legalized. Even though the relationship may have been started in good faith, during the course of time, it often turns into an abusive one.
Domestic abuse is often misconstrued with domestic violence. However, domestic abuse involves any attempt to belittle or put down an individual. The use of fear, guilt, shame and intimidation are all weapons of an abuser. And this should be avoided at all costs.
Quite frankly, domestic abuse and violence respect no one and so anyone can fall victim. It occurs in marriages and parent-children relationships. It has no regards for age, education, economic level, religious belief or ethnic background. And though this is often the case with women, abuse also occurs among men as well. Nonetheless, despite its occurrence, abuse has no place in our society. People deserve to be treated as people, thereby having a sense of value, respect and love, regardless of their immigration status.
Remaining in an abusive relationship can cause more damage to an individual than can meet the eye. Apart from physical harm, persons may experience emotional and psychological hurt that could last a lifetime. This can severely dampen someone’s self esteem, self-worth and result in irreversible anxiety and depression. This should never be the case for anyone; no one should be left to endure such discomfort. Therefore, if this is the situation, persons must first recognize it for what it is and take the necessary steps to stop it and prevent further pain.
Signs of Abuse
Most often than not, the signs that you’re in an abusive relationship are quite obvious. If you have a fear of your partner when speaking or doing other things that makes you happy or if you have to constantly walk on eggshells around them, then those are signs of an abusive and unhealthy relationship. Also, if there is a sense of fear when your partner is around or he or she tries to control your every move, those are also signs that you’re in an abusive relationship.
There Is Help…Even for Undocumented Immigrants (VAWA)
Don’t ever feel that you’re alone in this and there’s no hope. There are a number of programs available to persons who are in abusive relationships. In the case of persons who are undocumented, that is never a reason to remain in an abusive relationship. You deserve better! According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of legislation that sought to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States.”
“Certain sections of the Violence Against Women Act provide immigration benefits to eligible spouses, parents, and children who have been victims of abusive U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. Under VAWA, certain foreign nationals no longer have to rely on their family-member abusers to help them obtain lawful status in the United States and may self-petition for a green card.”
VAWA green cards can be obtained by battered spouses, ex-spouses and children of United States Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. This particular green card is also available to the battered parents of United States citizen children who are at least 21 years old when the application was filed. Unmarried children under 21 can be included on a battered spouse’s (or ex-spouse’s) VAWA self-petition.
It is always good to know what your options are available, given your particular situation. Hence, persons needing more information should consult a good immigration lawyer or tune in to Ask the Lawyer Radio Show on Thursdays from 10:00pm – 11:00pm or Sundays from 11:00 pm–12:00am on WVIP 93.5 FM. Also, for a FREE consultation or to refer a client, visit www.askthelawyer.us
Workers’ World Today is a free publication that empowers all workers, regardless of social or political affiliations. Distributed throughout New York City, our paper has a mission to educate workers and provide them with relevant information pertinent to the workforce such as workers’ compensation, discrimination on the job, workers’ rights, and more.