Don`t let your immigration status prevent you from reporting domestic violence!
An act of domestic violence is any act of “threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are in a relationship, or between family members” (Home Office). Remember that while most often domestic violence takes the form of direct physical or sexual assaults (beating, hitting, kicking, etc.), it can also include acts of emotional abuse (bullying and humiliation, exercise of control over money or information, etc.). Any of the following could be an incident of domestic violence: beating, threats of harm, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, financial control.
Women from immigrant and refugee backgrounds are particularly vulnerable in cases of domestic violence: they are less likely than other women to seek protection and support due to concerns with their immigration status, emotional and financial reliance on the abusive partner or fear of deportation (especially when their immigration status has not been confirmed).
!Remember that whatever your immigration status is you are ALWAYS entitled to protection just like any other woman in the UK.
!Remember that whichever organisation you decide to contact for advice or assistance, the information you share will always be entirely confidential.
Don`t let your financial situation stop you from seeking support and protection!
If your immigration status prevents you from claiming state benefits or taking on paid work, this makes you more dependent on your partner. Yet, you need to know that there are charity organisations which will provide you with accommodation and financial support even if you cannot use public funds. To enquire about them:
Call the FREE 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline- 0808 2000 247
Email the national domestic violence charity Women`s Aid: email@example.com
If you no longer feel safe at your home environment, ask these organisations to refer you to a “refuge”. Refuge is a safe house (with a confidential address and no access for men) for women and children escaping domestic violence: http://refuge.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/refuges/. Discuss your situation with an adviser from the Refuge organisation by calling 7700 020 7395 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, you may prefer to remain at home but restrict your partner`s access to it through an “occupation order”: an occupation order may deny your partner`s right to return to and occupy your property. Call the Women`s Aid Groups, Law Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau to enquire how you can make an application for an “occupation order”:
Don`t let language barriers stop you from seeking support and protection!
Many organisations that work with victims of domestic violence have access to interpreters or employ staff who speaks a variety of languages!
Dont`t let concerns with your culture, ethnicity or religion stop you from seeking support and protection!
Anyone could become a victim of domestic violence, disregarding of ethnicity or religion. Once you have contacted the Women`s Aid organisation, you may ask your adviser to refer you to organisations where you can get support from women from the same cultural, ethnic or religious group as yourself.
For more practical guidelines prepared specifically for victims of domestic violence with insecure immigration status, check Women`s Aid “Domestic Violence Survivors Handbook”