Domestic violence can affect people regardless of ethnicity. Some research shows that women of color, especially African-American, Hispanic, Latina, and Native women, experience more violence than other women. Sometimes victims stay in an abusive relationship, not only because of fear or finances, but because of their cultural beliefs. Culture is often used as an excuse or rationale for an abuser to be violent or controlling towards a partner. Victims may also be afraid to tell anyone in their community about the abuse because they are ashamed, embarrassed, and they may blame themselves for the abuse. If they left the abuser, then they might have to leave their ethnic community. Despite these barriers, culture can also be used as a tool of strength and healing for victims. There are several organizations on the national level that provide information from culturally-specific perspectives:
- Sacred Circle is a leader in domestic violence affecting tribal families and native women.
- Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence is a national network and clearinghouse for information on violence against women in API communities.
- Alianza: The National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence provides community education and development, public policy, research, training and technical assistance.
- Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community focuses on the unique problem of domestic violence in African American communities and the ways it should be addressed differently to improve service provision.
When victims of domestic violence were not born in the U.S., it can create many barriers for them. Immigration status can be used by an abuser to control and instill fear in victims. Cultural differences and language barriers can also impact victims’ ability to seek help. Fortunately, immigrant victims of domestic violence may be eligible for certain types of immigration relief, including U and T visas, VAWA self-petitions, VAWA cancellations of removal, and gender based asylum. These forms of relief would allow immigrant domestic violence victims to apply for citizenship status, independent of their abusers. For more information on these types of relief, click here. See below for a list of organizations that provide immigration related legal services for domestic violence victims in Maryland.
Services provided: Case management, individual and group counseling, support, education, and advocacy for Spanish-speaking immigrants
Services provided: Immigration legal assistance, case management and referrals for Vietnamese speakers
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: (410) 396-3294
Services provided: Provides free immigration legal services to foreign born victims of domestic violence, human sex trafficking or sexual assault.
Silver Spring, MD† 20902
Hotline: (202)-393-3572 (Chinese: x18; South Asian languages: x19; Vietnamese: x20; Korean: x21; Main hotline/other languages: x22)
Services provided: immigration, family law, employment law and referrals for Asian speakers (Chinese, Cantonese/Mandarin, Vietnamese, Korean, South Asian (Nepali, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu), Tagalog and Japanese speakers
Phone: (202) 464-4477
Services provided: Advocacy, peer support, safety planning, legal and social service resources, community outreach, technical assistance program for Asians/Pacific Islanders
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: (202) 387-4848
Services provided: In Maryland, legal assistance with family-based immigration petitions, asylum and VAWA immigration waivers
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 331-3320
Services provided: Legal assistance with asylum proceedings
Washington, DC 20017
Phone: (202) 635-2556
Services provided: Family law and immigration law assistance for low-income persons. Spanish-speaking
Services provided: peer support, cultural sensitivity, language barriers, and referrals to South Asian women in the DC Metropolitan area.
201 N Charles St., Suite 920
Baltimore, MD 21201
Services provided: family and immigration law assistance, case management and referrals.