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How immigration status impacts abuse victims

Domestic abuse victims may feel like they are unable to speak out about their experiences. For victims in Virginia or elsewhere who are immigrants, they may feel even more apprehensive about reporting their abuse. This is because they may not understand how the legal system works or have any family in the country. They may also come from countries where cultural attitudes about abuse cause them to stay quiet.

However, the Violence Against Women Act offers protection for abuse victims. One of the key parts of that act is protection from immigration laws for those who may be undocumented. This is crucial because abusers may threaten to report their victims in an effort to keep them from talking. The law also provides incentives for victims to work with law enforcement to hold their abusers accountable for what they have done.

While these are important steps, other events may work to keep immigrant victims silent about their experiences. Those events include ending the DACA program, anti-Muslim sentiment and taking undocumented immigrants into custody despite a lack of a serious criminal history. These actions may send a signal to some that they do not belong in American communities or that they do not deserve protection. Therefore, they may be hesitant to work with law enforcement or seek protection orders to keep themselves safe.

Victims of domestic abuse may be able to obtain a restraining order that may impact an abuser's ability to have a relationship with his or her children. In some cases, abusers may have their parental rights terminated and be required to pay child support. In many cases, a preliminary protective order may be granted prior to a formal hearing. An attorney may help a victim obtain such an order.

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