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.
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.
National Culturally-Specific Organizations:
- 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.
- 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.
Statewide/Local Culturally-Specific Organizations:
- Esperanza Center
Esperanza Center works to provide immigrants with healthcare, social services, referrals, language classes, and immigration legal services. Services provided: Advocacy; employment; English as a second language; healthcare services; immigration legal services; information referrals; and translation.
- Adelante Familia at House of Ruth Maryland
Services provided: Case management, individual and group counseling, support, education, and advocacy for Spanish-speaking immigrants
- Boat People SOS
Services provided: Immigration legal assistance, case management and referrals for Vietnamese speakers
- Multi-Ethnic Domestic Violence Project of the Women’s Law Center of Maryland
Services provided: Provides free immigration legal services to foreign born victims of domestic violence, human sex trafficking or sexual assault.
- Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center
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
- Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project (DVRP)
Services provided: Advocacy, peer support, safety planning, legal and social service resources, community outreach, technical assistance program for Asians/Pacific Islanders
Services provided: In Maryland, legal assistance with family-based immigration petitions, asylum and VAWA immigration waivers
- Capital Area Immigrants Rights (CAIR) Coalition
Services provided: Legal assistance with asylum proceedings
- Catholic Immigration Legal Services
Services provided: Family law and immigration law assistance for low-income persons. Spanish-speaking
- Asian Women’s Self-Help Association (ASHA)
Services provided: peer support, cultural sensitivity, language barriers, and referrals to South Asian women in the DC Metropolitan area.
- Tahirih Justice Center
Services provided: family and immigration law assistance, case management and referrals.