We advise you to look at your situation calmly.
Is the violence going from bad to worse?
Are you and your children, if any, living in fear?
You have some choices:
- To stay on and try to make a go of it, ideally with intervention from friends, family or counselors.
- To leave.
- Get the abuser to leave.
Counseling of the abuser has been known to work positively in a few cases. But only if the abuser acknowledges that he is at fault and is willing to change.
If you decide you need to leave, there are many steps that should be taken, and taken very cautiously. It’s good to take someone into confidence, a friend, a relative or even better, an organization such as ours that does this work for women. This is even more important if you are relatively new to the United States.
However, if you want to fight for your rights, and get the abuser to quit instead, that’s great. You have to be prepared for some tough times and there should be someone on the spot supporting you.
Start preparing your case
Ideally you should be reporting every incident of abuse to your local police but we know it’s not easy. Records of abuse make it that much simpler to establish your case. If you were hurt, you must have gone to a hospital or clinic? Keep these records. Maintain photographic evidence of injuries as well. Do as much as you can.
The law is on your side
US laws against domestic violence are quite clear – you don’t have to be a US citizen or a permanent resident to receive protection from an abuser. Any individual who faces domestic violence has a right to call the police and seek a Restraining Order against the perpetrator.
The Restraining Order is like first aid. The police will not question your immigration status – all they know is you are being abused, violence is a crime, and they have to take emergency measures to stop it immediately.
Where will I go? What will I do?
There’s help every step of the way for survivors of domestic violence, from State-run welfare agencies and women’s groups like ASHA. Women who have no professional skills or work experience need not despair, with the right help they are invariably able to find their own feet. Many groups support and fund the acquiring and enhancing of skills and assist in finding houses and jobs.
Shelters or safe homes run by such organizations provide secure and amazing environments for women and kids, for the time needed to repair one’s life. It may be a good idea to visit one of these homes before you make a decision.
Your immigration status will naturally influence the options open to you. The support group will connect you with immigration lawyers who will help you find solutions.
And there are always solutions to be found!