When one person in a relationship controls another by violence or the threat of violence, this is called domestic violence.

Domestic violence does not have to involve physical abuse such as hitting, slapping or restraining. It can also include verbal insults, manipulation under duress, forced sex, or being told that if you do not obey your partner that your children will be taken from you or that you will be deported. While domestic violence can happen to anyone, the majority of the victims are women.

What to do if you are a victim

If you are not a citizen you do not have to suffer from domestic abuse for you to be able to stay in this country. If you are permanent resident, refugee, or asylee talk to an immigration attorney about your options and rights. This is especially true if you are a conditional permanent resident and your status expires after two years. If you are not married to the other parent if your children there may be special considerations to help you.  If you are in immediate danger, call 911. 

If you are a victim of domestic violence and not a citizen there is help available. You may be able to seek permanent residency via the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). There may also be special visas available to help you. If you have children in the United States there are options available as well.

What to do if you are accused of violence

If you are not a citizen and are accused of domestic violence it is in your best interest to talk to an immigration attorney who also handles criminal law cases. If you are a noncitizen and are arrested, your immigration status will be at risk. If you are told you must appear in court for charges of domestic violence (or any crime) you face the possibility of deportation.