Immigration and Isolation: How the Realities of Immigration Create Additional Barriers to Safety and Support for Survivors
Isolation is central to the experience of domestic violence and relationship abuse. Survivors are often slowly removed from friends, family, and community connections as a way to remove support and resources as violence escalates. For survivors who are also immigrants, the experience of isolation is multiplied as they find themselves in an entirely new culture and geographic area. Oftentimes, immigrating from another country means leaving behind family and friends and arriving in a new country with limited financial resources, community contacts, and ability to speak the language or access transportation.
It is also common for immigrant survivors to face additional tactics of abuse related to their immigration status such as threats of deportation, inciting fear of public systems, threatening to separate them from children who were born as citizens, and actively preventing them from learning English. Many immigrant survivors come from countries where law enforcement is extremely corrupt and dangerous. This reality is then used by a perpetrator to maintain power and prevent a survivor from accessing options for citizenship only available if there are corroborating police reports. Without the ability to understand and access resources available to them, immigrant survivors are additionally vulnerable to abuse.
But, there are options for seeking safety and support.
Organizations like Safe Passage work to support immigrant survivors in our community every day, regardless of immigration status. It is important for immigrant survivors to understand their rights and what options are available to them if they are experiencing abuse. We are here to provide help with safety planning, information regarding paths to citizenship specific to survivors of domestic violence, and help navigating options for each unique survivor’s experience.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or relationship abuse and is also an immigrant, Safe Passage is here for you. You can contact us to seek support in multiple ways:
- Call our hotline at 413-586-5066 (Monday through Friday from 9am-7pm)
- Contact our Latinx & Immigrant Counselor Advocate at 413-586-1125 ex 13
- Contact our Latinx Counselor Advocate & Immigration Specialist at 413-586-1125 ex 26
How you can help immigrant survivors in our community:
- Know your resources: In addition to Safe Passage, organizations like the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center, and the immigrant Legal Resource Center can help with immigration issues and the upholding immigrant rights.
- Stay Connected: Especially for survivors who are immigrants, decreasing isolation is vital. Stay in contact, check in, and be a lifeline.
- Be an Ally: Immigrants face additional risks beyond those posed by a perpetrator of domestic violence. Help make our community safe for all by interrupting when you see or hear experiences of violence in your community (small or large) that have anti-immigrant sentiments. Speak up. Say Something. And be a part of creating safety for all our neighbors.
- Advocate: Stay up to date with information at the state and federal level regarding immigration policies. Be vocal with your representatives that you support pro-immigrant policies as their constituent and will not support their support of any anti-immigration bills.