Empowering Domestic Violence Survivors through Immigration Law

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, my next series of posts will focus on some of the ways in which US immigration law may protect and empower immigrant survivors of domestic violence.  As domestic violence is chronically one of the most under-reported crimes in the United States, reporting rates are often much lower among immigrant victims, due to factors such as language barriers, mistrust of the police, and fears of immigration consequences, among others.

First, I’ll discuss remedies under the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA), which protects immigrant spouses, children, and parents of abusive US citizens or permanent residents.  Despite its name, it is important to remember that VAWA also protects male spouses, and after U.S. v. Windsor, VAWA applies to same-sex spouses as well.  I will continue the series with a discussion of U visas, which protect a broader number of victims who have suffered violent crimes (including abuse) committed by unmarried and/or undocumented partners, parents, or children.  Finally, I will end the series with a discussion of asylum, which may offer protection to men and women fleeing domestic violence in their countries of citizenship.


If you or someone you know is in danger or has been abused, please call emergency officials or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.  You do not have to pay for the call and you can ask that your information be kept confidential.  At the Hotline, the agents can offer you help in case of a crisis and can help you with a safe escape plan.  They can also put you in touch with service providers in your area.  The agents can send you written information about domestic violence in your home, sexual violence, and the legislative/judicial system.  Although these calls are free, they may appear on your phone bill.  If you think that your abuser has access to your phone bill, call from a friend’s phone or a public telephone.

If you live in Mississippi, you may also want to contact the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 800-898-3234 or http://mcadv.org/.


Si usted ha sido lastimada por alguien a quién usted conoce o ha sido atacada por un extraño puede llamar a los oficiales de emergencia o a la Linea Nacional sobre la Violencia Doméstica al 800-799-3224 (Tele-escritor). Usted no tendrá que pagar por la llamada, y podrá pedir que su información sea confidencial.  Los agentes en la línea le ofrecerán ayuda en caso de crisis y le ayudaran a ejecutar un plan de seguridad. También pueden conectarla con proveedores de servicios en su área.  Los agentes pueden enviarle información escrita sobre violencia doméstica en el hogar, agresión sexual, y el sistema legislativo o judicial.  Aunque estas llamadas sean gratis, pueden aparecer en su cuenta telefónica. Si usted piensa que su abusador tiene acceso a su cuenta de teléfono, intente llamar del teléfono de un amigo o de un teléfono público.

Si usted vive en Mississippi, también puede llamar a la Coalición Misisipiana en Contra de la Violencia a 800-898-3234 o http://mcadv.org/ (sitio en inglés).


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About The Law Offices of Amelia S. McGowan, PLLC

The Law Offices of Amelia S. McGowan, PLLC, is a law firm based in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Our practice focuses on immigration law for clients worldwide and commercial law for Mississippi businesses.

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