the network

reaching out for a violence free society

24-Hour Hotline

All Languages Are Supported


the network

reaching out for a violence free society

24-Hour Hotline

All Languages Are Supported

Resources For Immigrants

What does immigration have to do with domestic violence?

Whether documented or undocumented, immigrant victim/survivors of domestic violence face a number of barriers when seeking safety. Many immigrant victims experience an increased risk of violence in the home. Abusive partners often use a victim’s lack of immigration status, or dependent immigration status as a way to maintain power and control over them. Immigrant victims are regularly threatened with deportation by their abusers. This may make them reluctant to reach out for help. Any threat of deportation, whether it’s from the abuser or federal immigration policies, increases their risk of being separated from their children, which also makes it less likely that they will reach out for help.

Language and cultural barriers may also make it difficult for some immigrant survivors to understand their rights and access to services.
decorative background with forms and citizenship papers

Everyone deserves a healthy relationship!

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior toward another person in an effort to gain and maintain power and control over them. Most often, the abusive person is a current or former spouse or dating partner. It can also be someone who has cohabitated with the victim, such as a family member or roommate or a caretaker, such as someone caring for an elderly relative.

Abuse doesn’t always look the same but some things to consider are:

This can include shouting, name-calling or making belittling remarks. It can also include jealousy, gaslighting, or even giving the silent treatment.


 This can include things such as hitting, shoving, slapping, throwing of objects at the survivor, use of weapons or threats of self-harm.


Isolation is commonplace in abusive relationships. If your partner says you can’t leave the house or prevents you from seeing or speaking with family or friends, this is a way to isolate you from others. If they steal your keys to keep you from leaving or tries to convince you to quit school or work, they are actively working to cut you off from others, potentially shrinking your support system. You should be allowed to have friends, visit family, and do things that you enjoy, without fear of how your partner will react.

Threats may be toward children or other family members. The abusive person may threaten your friends, or even your pets. They may also make threats that are harder for others to understand. For example, maybe the abusive person doesn’t threaten to harm your children, but threatens to take them away from you.

Sexual coercion – This can include unwanted sexual advances or forced sexual acts. If someone isn’t in the mood to have sex, that should be respected, regardless of their gender. Sexual coercion can also include withholding sex to control your partner. Again, if someone isn’t in the mood, it’s important to respect that, but if your partner refuses to have sex unless you do things that you’re uncomfortable with, that’s not okay. A couple of examples are: refusing to have protected sex/removing or forcing you to remove a condom, or withholding sex unless you agree to cancel plans with friends. Sex should never be used as a means to control someone.

Stalking isn’t just following someone around. Stalking includes (but isn’t limited to): unwanted contact like phone calls, texts, and contact via social media, unwanted gifts, showing up/approaching an individual or their family/friends, monitoring, surveillance, property damage, and threats

This could be demanding money or credit cards. It could be restricting how you’re allowed to spend money. It could be mismanaging money and lying about it or ruining your credit. Financial abuse is real and can have devastating consequences.

Legal abuse can look different depending on the circumstances.  Legal abuse can be the abusive person filing excessive motions in court, to force the victim/survivor to miss work/school and/or pay excessive attorney’s fees.  Legal abuse can be the theft, withholding of or destruction of legal documents or papers like passports, resident cards, health insurance, or driver’s license.  This can be devastating to immigrant survivors.

If you read over this list and recognized some of the behaviors, please consider calling our hotline at 860.763.4542 to speak with an advocate. All languages are supported.

What Should I Know?

Under U.S. law, any crime victim, regardless of immigration or citizenship status, can call the police for help.  All people in the United States (regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, ethnicity, national origin or immigration status) are guaranteed protection from abuse under the law. Any victim of domestic violence, regardless of immigration or citizenship status, can seek help.  An immigrant victim of domestic violence may also be eligible for immigration related protections. 

According to the International Labor Organization, migrant workers and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to forced labor. (ILO, 2017)  If you believe that you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, please read more on our human trafficking page.

The Abuse Rates Among Immigrant Women are as high as 49.8%, this is three times the national average.

What Kind of Help Is Available?

For individuals in immediate danger, please call 911.

If you or someone you know is an immigrant who is experiencing domestic violence, help is available. Call our 24-hour hotline at 860.763.4542. Our certified domestic violence advocates are here to listen, discuss your options, and help you to figure out your next steps.

According to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, they administer two immigration benefits that encourage victims to come forward and work with law enforcement and other certifying agencies.

T Visa

T nonimmigrant status, also known as the T visa, is for victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons. Victims can remain and work in the United States for up to four years once granted T nonimmigrant status. T nonimmigrant status may be extended beyond four years in limited circumstances; victims can also apply for a Green Card, also known as lawful permanent residency, if they meet certain requirements.

U Visa

U nonimmigrant status, also known as the U visa, is for victims of certain qualifying criminal activities, including domestic violence, sexual assault, hate crimes, human trafficking, involuntary servitude, and certain other serious offenses. Victims can remain and work in the United States for up to four years once granted U nonimmigrant status. U nonimmigrant status may be extended beyond four years in limited circumstances; victims can also apply for a Green Card, also known as lawful permanent residency, if they meet certain requirements.

It’s important to know that eligibility for both T and U visas generally requires the victim to assist or cooperate with law enforcement in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of human trafficking or qualifying criminal activity. For T visas, there are some exceptions and exemptions to this requirement where the victim was under 18 years of age at the time of victimization or suffers physical or psychological trauma. For U visas, there are some exceptions and special rules for those under 16 years of age and victims who are incompetent or incapacitated. For more information, refer to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services website.

What Can I Do For Myself?

Abuse happens in all types of relationships. If you are being abused, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. There are some steps you can take to increase your safety and/or make leaving the abusive situation easier.  If you need to talk to someone about it, help is available. Our 24-hour hotline number is 860.763.4542

Don't Retaliate

This can result in you being arrested. If things are escalating, separate yourself from the other person, whenever possible. Think about your support system. Is there a friend or a relative you can call or go visit? Once you feel physically safer, calling the hotline to speak with an advocate may also be helpful. Our hotline number is 860.763.4542. Please remember that if you are afraid for your safety, it’s best to call 911. 

Collect Evidence of Abuse

If you can do so safely, creating a timeline of events and compiling evidence of abuse may help you moving forward, especially if you choose to file a police report or apply for a civil restraining order. This could be a personal diary or calendar where you’ve documented the abusive behavior, digital evidence like threatening texts, emails, etc., screenshots of excessive missed calls, and threatening voicemails. If you are unsure of what types of information might be helpful, call our hotline and speak with an advocate.

Create a Safety Plan

Create a safety plan. This can help you plan how you’re going to leave, whether you plan to leave temporarily, or stay separated. Safety plans can look different for everyone. A safety plan might include packing a go-bag, opening your own bank account, or keeping important documents and medications somewhere safe. One of our domestic violence advocates can help you develop a realistic safety plan that is tailored to you and your personal needs.

Practice Self Care

This one can be challenging for any victim/survivor, especially if there are children in the home, but taking care of you, first, is an important step to learning how to move forward. This is important regardless of whether you plan to stay or leave the abusive relationship. Self-care can look different for everyone. It could be taking up a hobby, prioritizing time with family and friends, joining a support group, having some time to yourself each day to do something that you enjoy, or speaking with a therapist who has experience working with victim/survivors.

Other Resources