Domestic Violence Victims/Immigrants Living in the U.S.
Posted Oct 02 2009 3:07pm
I consider myself lucky to be able to write, to voice my opinions here and to organizations that look the other way, and to fight for women who simply cannot fight on in this ongoing struggle for justice after domestic violence. I've said it before, what follows domestic abuse is far worse than the actual abuse. The time and energy and money battered women must spend on healing and medical treatments is beyond reason and the state programs that claim to "compensate" women and abuse victims only turn a deaf ear to the reality of the situation, which is, many of us suffer and struggle through paying for the abuse that was committed against us. In the United States of America, each state is set up with a Crime Victims Compensation Program that claims to compensate any victim of a crime that has been injured or has experienced loss because of a crime. To my surprise, I have been contacted by many domestic abuse victims over the last few weeks about the lack of response from these state programs and the lack of compensation given out to true victims. One of the survivors who had the courage to reach out to me for help a few weeks ago was able to bring another sad reality to my attention. This woman, along with another woman that reached out to me in the same week, are both immigrants and victims of domestic violence. This situation causes all sorts of problems, for one, I am American and can speak English and write, on the other hand, both of these women have trouble communicating in English. One can imagine being in my horrible, confusing situation with CVB and every other organization that gives me the run around, and being unable to properly communicate with these people--I'm sure the organizations don't care, but this can be very frustrating for women in these situations, women whose first barrier is the language itself.
One woman is unable to get an interpreter in court, which completely complicates everything and leaves her at a complete disadvantage. After the third time this victim asked for an interpreter in Family Court, the court got her an interpreter that didn't speak her language. Needless to say, one can imagine how much of a struggle this can be, not only to be beaten and stolen from, but to be unable to communicate properly to defend oneself in court. This same survivor also filled me in about her shelter in NYC. Her advocates are telling her that they don't have a lot of time to dedicate to her case because they have other women in the shelter to assist, and her CVB case is also falling by the way side, like many other cases. The shelter is also pressuring her to settle on her divorce case and not put up a fight for what she deserves, this is shameful and I will find out what shelter In NY this victims is going to for help. Lastly, this woman is trying to locate a lawyer for a civil suit in NY against her abuser. She can't afford to pay the attorney, like many other women who are stripped and bankrupted by their abusers, so I am posting this tonight with hope that a pro bono attorney will contact me and volunteer to take this woman's case.
Another women, also an immigrant and victim, is being mentally tortured and controlled by her husband, who denies her food and rights to her own money. This poor woman is scared and alone and wants to leave her abuser, yet she doesn't even know the rules to the game she is about to play. When a victim contacts me for advice, and I'm not an expert, I usually tell them the rules to this awful game so many of us play, so that in the end they will find justice instead of defeat. These women have a greater disadvantage than battered women from this country because their first barrier is not getting through the abuse, it's getting past the language barrier and trying to keep pushing forward while the world pushes back. In the end, we all get thrown into the same pot and these "organizations" (intentionally or unintentionally) try to boil us alive, and only the resistant/resilient survive. I do hope my voice is heard for those who can't speak clearly about this issue, for those who are foreigners, for those who are too afraid to speak up, for those who can't play these games as well as I can, and I can.
Last week I informed Rockland Family Shelter that they should suggest Crime Victims Board in NYS get a specialized Domestic Violence Unit for victims of abuse. As it stands, CVB applications are mixed and there is no differentiation between victims in this program. This is a problem, not only for American victims, but for those who have come here from other countries and have been beaten and suppressed and now need help. I suggested this to the Governor and CVB as well, both ignored my suggestions.