Many individuals who migrate to the United States, including men, come here only to find out that their dream of freedom is not so near. Every day, immigrant spouses are abused and mistreated. Many feel they need to stay in the relationship because they feel they have no other option. They think that their only way to preserve their immigration status, without being deported, is to stay with the spouse that is sponsoring them. This is not the case. I am here to tell you that you DO have options. Here are my Safety Steps for Freedom from violence and protection of your immigration status.
Step Number One: Document the abuse. Take photos and store them in a safe location that is not accessible to your spouse. If you have a cloud storage drive such as Google Drive, Box or One Drive, store your photos there away from your abuser. Document what prompted the abusive situation and be as thorough as you possibly can with your descriptions. There is no requirement to report the abuse to police but if you can make a police report without jeopardizing your safety, please do!
Step Number Two: Relocate! Abusers often apologize for their abusive actions but rarely change their behavior. It is important for you get yourself out of the situation. Even if you do not have family or friends close by, you can contact a battered women’s shelter to relocate to safety. There are many shelters in Atlanta Metro Area that help immigrants!
Step Number Three: Communicate the abuse to a trusted confidant. Holding your feelings about the abuse inside or keeping the abuse a secret is not going to help the situation. No one should live in a state of fear for their lives. It is important to communicate the abuse with a trusted friend or family member so that they can support you throughout your process to leave as well as your immigration process.
Step Number Four: Call an attorney. The United States Violence Against Women Act or VAWA, allows you to continue with your immigration process on your own! VAWA does not only apply to women, but to men as well. VAWA allows for safe correspondence from USCIS, so do not fear. If your spouse frequently intercepts and reads your mail, you can have all of your correspondences forwarded to your attorney. VAWA also allows you to file for your children so there is no worry about leaving them behind.
I know that this can be a stressful process, but I am here to help. Call my office immediately for a free consultation if you are in need of assistance with your immigration process to escape abuse.
Tia Smith, Esquire
Daniels & Smith, LLC