Domestic Violence and the Immgrant Experience
This paper will be focusing on domestic violence and Immigrant families affected by abuse. The definition of domestic violence will be provided along with domestic violence laws, tips for agencies working with Immigrant Families, a vignette of a immigrant family who experienced domestic violence, and with my recommendations on how to properly services Latino families. What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence come in many forms of abuse. Domestic violence can occur among family member like brother and sisters, husband and wife, lesbians, gays and transgenders. The definition of domestic violence has a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence in immigrant families consist of emotional, economic, sexual abuse, using children, threats, using citizenship or residence privilege, intimidation, and isolation. In these cycle the immigrant woman fears of being deported.
The Power and Control Tactics Used Against Immigrant Women focuses on some of the many ways battered immigrant woman can be abused. Sexual Abuse: Can be calling her a prostitute or a mail order bride. Making accusations of her trying to attract other men when she puts on make-up to go to work. Accuse the woman of sleeping with other men. Making allegations that she has a history of prostitution on legal paper. Batterer tells his bride that “as a matter of law” in the United States that she must continue to have sex with him whenever he wants wants until they are divorced.
Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner. Emotional Abuse: Lying about her immigration status. Telling her families. Calling her racist names. Belittling and embarrassing her in front of her family and friends. Causing her to lose face. Telling her that she has abandoned her culture and become “white,” or “American. Preventing her from visiting sick or dying relatives. Lying about his ability to have the immigration status of his law permanent resident abuse victims changed. Economic Abuse: Forcing her to work “illegally” when she does not a work permit. Threatening to report her to the INS if she works “under the table. ” Not letting her get a job training or schooling. Taking the money her family back at home were depending upon her to send. Forcing her to sign papers in English that she does not understand – court papers, IRS forms, immigration papers.
Harassing her at the only job she can work at legally in the U. S. , so that she loses that job and is forced to work “illegally. ” Intimation: Hiding or destroying important papers ( i. e. her passport, her children’s passport, ID cards, health care cards, etc. ) Destroying the only property that she brought with her from her country. Destroying photographs of her family members. Threatening persons who serve as a source of support to her. Threatening to do or say something that will shame her family or cause them to lose face. Threatening to divulge family secrets.
Isolation: Isolating her from her friends or family members. Isolating her from persons who speak her language. Not allowing her to learn English or not allowing her to communicate in a language she is fluent in. Being the only person through whom she can communicate in English. Reading her mail and not allowing her to use the telephone. Strictly timing all her grocery trips and travel time. Not allowing her to continue to meet with her social workers and other support persons. Cutting off her subscription to or destroying newspaper and other support magazines.
Not allowing her to meet with people who speak her language or who are from her community, culture, or country. Minimizing, Denying, Blaming: Convincing her that his violent actions are not criminal unless they occur in public. Telling her that he is allowed to physically punish her because he is the “man. ” Blaming her for the break up of the family, if she leaves him because of the violence. Telling her that she is responsible for the violence because she did not do as he wished. (www. futureswithoutviolence. org/content/features/details/778/)
Domestic Violence and Immigrant Women Immigrant women face many barriers such as economic and social barriers Many immigrant women, unlike citizens, often do not work legally in this country but they face deportation by their abuser. Many times the immigrant abusers usually use immigration-related threats to assert power and control over their spouse or intimate partner. If the abuser is a U. S. citizen or a permanent resident he/she would use immigration – related threats to have power and control over their spouse or initimate partner.
Many time when the batterer is a U. S. citizen or has a permanent resident, he/she typically uses this power to threaten to have the victim deported by reporting her/his undocumented status to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), threatens to revoke residency sponsorship, or refuses to file necessary immigration petitions that would provide the victim with lawful status in the U. S. According to, Dutton, Orloff and Aguilar Hassel (2000) found that 72. % of the battered Latina surveyed in their study reported that their spouses never filed immigration petitions for their wives even though 50. 8% of the victims qualified to have petitions filed on their behalf. In addition, those abusers who did eventually file petitions for their spouses took almost four years to do so. Fear of deportation is a very powerful tool used by abusers to prevent battered immigrant women from seeking help and to keep them in violent relationships. ” Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA), Pub. L. No. 103-322, Title IV, 108 Stat. 902 (1994). The Experiences of Immigrant Women It is not easy for men and women to migrate from developing countries it is more often difficult and traumatic experience, which many times involve leaving behind familial support and moving a long distance to unknown country. When immigrant men and women move to an unfamiliar places they face at times prejudices and discrimination. Further, many times women who are abuse by their partners or spouse are not defined as a crime in many communities from which migrants have come (The British Council, 1999).
Despite their diversity, immigrant communities have one thing in common with each other and with the U. S. societies: the patriarchal social order supporting violence against women. This social order often silences victims, tolerates and minimizes the violence and provides protection to perpetrators (Erez, 2000). While immigrants to the United States arrive from across the globe, this document will primarily focus on Asian and Pacific Islander as well as Latina immigrants. British Council (1999). Violence against women. Manchester, U. K. : Author.
For about 6 years I worked in a Domestic Violence Shelter that provided a Safe Haven for women and children who have been affected by domestic violence. Working with Immigrant Women from Mexico, Africa, Dominican Republic or China was very challenging. Many of these women from outside the United States feared being deported because of their immigrants status. The women would open up to me and report their batterers (spouse/partner)have made threats to go to the Immigration and Nationalization Service (INS). As an advocate for these women my job was to provide support and get them connected to free legal immigration services.
These women needed to be provided legal resources so they can be informed of their rights as immigrant women effected by spousal abuse. There were times when I had to assist these women in making sure the services they were provided was in the Native Language. Being Latina working as a social service provider I needed to be culturally aware of how the services needed to be delivered to a client who understood very little to no English. I wanted to make sure being bilingual I was able to convey every message delivered to the understanding of my Spanish speaking client.
As a domestic violence counselor delivering domestic violence services I needed to educate my self with the population of immigrant women who was self referred or referred by other agencies. At times I had Asian woman hiding from their husband and their family because there husbands was very abusive to them and their children. I had several African women who escaped from their powerful husbands who had diplomatic ties to our country who did not even want to provide any information about herself due to fear that their husband would find them and kill them.
It was a very challenging job because there weren’t to any resources I could have used to provide services to women of immigration status. Domestic Violence Vignette: The following is a vignette about a Mexican woman who was referred to a domestic violence shelter because of reports of violence. Maria is a 35 year old female who was born in Mexico. She was raised by her mother and father in a very poor city in Mexico. At a very early age Maria reports she was exposed to domestic violence. She witness her mother being abused by her father and believed the behavior was a norm.
When Maria migrated to the United States she met her husband and had two children. Maria self reported she has been working illegally. She stopped working after she got married because her husband was the provider in the relationship and he let it be known many times during their relationship. She reports as soon as she met her husband she became pregnant and married they got married. Maria’s husband is a U. S. citizen who was born in New York and parents are from Mexico. Maria reports her husband has made threats to take her children away from her and take all rights from her if she doesn’t obey him.
Maria tried to be a good wife but he was never happy and his abuse just started getting worst. Maria’s immigration attorney informed Maria if she does not get herself and her children into a Safe Haven the probability of her losing her children will be high. She informed Maria that it was reported at the children school that they have seen her husband be abusive towards her in front of the children. On one occasion Maria went to pick up her children and her husband was there before she was an he confronted Maria and slapped her because he felt she was late.
A parent who witness the incident went to the principle and informed the principle what she had witness. The principle called police without Maria knowing and when police arrived they witness Maria’s husband being very to be abusive and police arrived and saw her husband being verbally abusive in front of other parents. Soon after her husband was arrested. Maria was informed by a woman police officer that is was best for her to leave her home and go into a Safe Haven before her husband was released in a few days.
Maria was scared but listened to the police officer who was a woman and spoke Spanish. When Maria came to the shelter she felt very upset, a shame, guilty, and didn’t know what to tell her children. Maria informed the therapist she has stepped out of line and this was the reason why her husband would become abusive towards her. She did not recognize that her husband was the one who needed help and she was the victim. With the help of the therapist Maria will be able to identify that she was not at fault for her husband being abusive and that the cycle of violence will continue if she stay in the.
The therapist her role is to help Maria identify her unhealthy relationship, her acculturation difficulties, and her ethnic identification. The therapist best tool to identify her family history is by using a cultural sonogram Since Maria points out her family is an important source of support, she reported leaving her mother and father in Mexico. She said coming to the U. S. was not easy and adjusting to a different way of living was difficult because she did not know anyone when she arrived from Mexico.
Maria pointed out that in her culture she is to obey her husband, cook, clean, follow the Catholic culture of not getting divorce and work when there is a problem with the marriage. She said her reason for coming to the U. S. was to get an education, get a good job and send money to her family in Mexico. “ A cultural sonogram can help clients identify and understand the immigration history, family structure, and alliances in the extended family. The use of the sonogram can also help counselors assess the level of acculturation of Mexican clients and their religious and ethic identification. ” www. agepub. com/counselingstudy/11/vignettes. htm Immigrant Law: When it comes to doemstic violence and the immgrant woman there are few laws that protect them but sometimes these woman are not familiar of the law due to language barrier. In the early 1990 there was a big recognition of devasting immgration impact law and procedure had on immigrant victim of domestic violence. According to the legislation that recognized domestic violence as a problem experienced by immigrant dependent on their abusive citizen and lawful permanent resident spouses for legal immgration status was the battered spouse waiver.