Although domestic violence occurs in every race, religion, gender, and socioeconomic status, immigrant survivors have a unique experience. They often experience higher rates of domestic violence than U.S. citizens because in many of their home countries this violence is ignored or even accepted as normal. This violence may be witnessed in childhood and continue throughout their lives.

Many immigrants are exposed to horrifying violence in their home country and often during their journey to the Unites States, where the violence they were fleeing can sometimes follow them. 1,817 immigrants treated by Doctors without Borders in Mexico between 2015-2017 reported having suffered a violent event in their country and/or during their journey to the United States.            

Research shows that immigrant women are particularly more vulnerable to experience violence multiple times in their lives. Immigrant women are also less likely to report acts of violence than U.S.-born women due to language barriers, lack of specialized services, and fear of disclosing their immigration status. These barriers may lead the survivor to stay in the relationship longer and often suffer additional physical and emotional abuse. In order for abusers to maintain power and control, they may hide their partners’ legal documents, give false information, lie about their partner’s legal status, or threaten to have their partner deported. Additionally, survivors face isolation, lack of information, cultural pressures, and racism or fear.  Many immigrants are misinformed about their legal rights and are unaware of the resources available in their community.  They are often afraid to reach out for help due to fear of legal repercussions.

To better serve the immigrant community, Safe Harbor has partnered with the Sacred Heart Center (SHC), a well-known trusted community center for Richmond’s Latinx community in Manchester, to provide counseling and case management services to immigrant survivors of domestic and sexual violence.  This intentional collaboration helps both adults and youth, who have been impacted by violence and abuse to heal and rebuild their lives. Through this partnership, Safe Harbor and SHC deliver counseling and case management to members of the Latinx community in a manner that affirms the individual’s culture and identity.

If you know of anyone experiencing violence and is in need of bilingual counseling services, have them contact Safe Harbor at (804)249-9470 ext. 18 or 15 during office hours Monday-Friday or the Richmond Regional Hotline at (804)612-6126 during the evenings, weekends or holidays.