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Immigrants especially vulnerable to domestic violence

44354719_S.jpgLeaving an abusive relationship can be very difficult for many Illinois women. Pressure to stay with an abuser often arises from a person's lack of income, homelessness and no access to health care. Among immigrants, especially individuals without documentation to be in the country, barriers to action include fear of deportation, poor English language skills and little understanding of legal rights.

Abusers often exploit these factors to keep someone trapped in an abusive home. Strong attitudes from the federal government toward immigrants have greatly increased the fear of deportation among victims who might otherwise seek help. Anecdotal evidence from people who serve victims indicates that more immigrants are refusing to call police when an abuser strikes.

Concern about deportation has always been a problem among immigrant victims of abusive partners. Updates to the original Violence Against Women Act of 1994 added protections that did not require a person to have valid documentation or the sponsorship of an abusive spouse. These federal laws also created a legal framework for defending victims from attack. People suffering abuse at home have the right to seek a protective order and press criminal charges.

A person who wants information about how to obtain a protective order or assert parental rights could speak with an attorney. An attorney familiar with family law could petition a court to obtain a protective order. The organization of evidence from police reports and medical records could convince a judge to issue the order. After helping the client secure a safe living situation, an attorney could manage the process of getting a divorce.

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