A battered spouse, parent or child has the opportunity to file an immigrant visa petition. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), an amendment under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows certain family members of United States citizens to file a petition without the abuser’s knowledge. This amendment creates an opportunity for the victim(s) to attain safety and autonomy from their abuser, who will not be notified of the petition filing. While the VAWA uses the pronoun women, this is an equal opportunity act for men and women.

Many states offer resources, support and shelter for victims of domestic violence. This act grants a new level of separation for the victim(s). Citizenship will no longer be able to be used as a method of control. Victims have the opportunity to seek United States citizenship without concern of retaliation nor retribution from their abuser. They have the opportunity to remain in the United States legally, and free from abuse.

If you are a victim of domestic violence help is available. National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD).

A comprehensive mental health evaluation provides clients with additional support reflect how the abuse has impacted their functioning. Frequently domestic violence is not reported to the police. Having a comprehensive assessment gives victims validation to their experience when facing the courts. The feelings of depression, anxiety and stress can be used as evidence to support claims of abuse, where no official reports have been documented.

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