Let’s Talk About Domestic Violence (DV) and Immigration
by Rev. Wambui Njoroge, M.Sci.
From my Workshop notes and Online Information
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is” 1-800.799.7233 Available 24/7-365 Days
Since writing Article No. 1, some people felt angry about this topic.
Others were of the opinion that if a person has not been a victim, what do they know? Using that flawed logic, does anyone need a thief to break in their residence to understand stealing?
If you see someone breaking into your neighbors home, would you watch in silence or would you say something? Yet Domestic violence happens all around us and we choose not to talk. We say we are praying about it. I hope by writing I am giving someone a voice, and a very loud one.
DV thrives on a vicious cycle of violence and family secrets that are harmful. PLEASE SPEAK UP AND BREAK THE CYCLE SILENCE
You cannot continue to be the secret keeper of destructive patterns. The life that is targeted by DV for destruction is your own.
Domestic violence is not love in any language freely expressed and straight from the heart. DV is a crime. No woman or man deserves to be abused for any reason.
If you are victim of DV remember it is your life in danger.
You owe it to yourself to be safe, and also to minor children under your care. If you read article 1, it will be easier to follow Article No. #2.
Immigrant Women and Domestic Violence
Disclaimer/this article contains notes, sensitive issues to some and suggestions that are helpful. Please consult an immigration lawyer for your individual situation.
Your American dream can become your worst nightmare. It is very sad when immigrant women are victims of abuse. Already as immigrants, and as minorities, we are considered a risky population.
So DV is another layer of risk for immigrant families. Following are some examples of immigration issues that are might be used by an abuser:
- Telling or accusing her of abandoning African culture and becoming a Mzungu
- Preventing her from visiting home or visiting dying relatives or attending funerals. A spouse asked to attend her brother’s funeral. The husband said to his wife, “Your Brother has already passed away. It is too expensive for the round trip to Kenya. Its no longer your home. Your home is now in America.”
- Refusing her relatives living in the States to visit her
- Refusing her to speak in her language on the Telephone or to write/making sure her telephone is in his name and his account so that he can monitor calls, messages and dictate who can or cannot be her friend
- Lying or delaying to file “Change of Status”
- Forcing her to work doubles or triples-pushes her to leave home or State of residence in search of work away from home and from children.
- Later will accuse the woman of abandoning family, or might use it to delay or deny her custody of minor children, especially when they are born in the USA
- Threats to report her to ICE akifanya kazi chini ya meza
- Sexual abuse-Calling her names or insinuating that she is a prostitute who exchanges her body for papers (even when the marriage is legitimate and there was love…once she was told, “I love you with all my heart and soul. I love your accent.” (in the Article #1 we noted that a man may come to hate the very things that first attracted him to a woman, and use them against her)
- Forcing her to continue having sex against her will or “Sex On Demand” and abuser pretends its a matter of USA Law when you are married. Telling her she can be divorced for denying him conjugal rights. (Although in some states this is the law, it doesn’t apply to an abusive relationship. It constitutes rape).
- Immigration Sacred Cow- I coined this, which means threatening to report her to ICE. (This is the worst a person can do to an immigrant. You will be hated by all immigrants and by her family. If you know someone doing this, let others know to be aware. Please let it STOP).
- Using Children – Threatening to remove children from USA (it is illegal for US born children to be taken away from USA to punish their mother. He will say, “I am doing this for the kids.”
- Children From Home: If the children came with her, abuser threatens to report them as well to ICE.
- Using scary tactics that if she seeks help, the children will be taken away by Department of Children and Family Services.
- Using Citizenship or Green Card (GC) against her. Failing to file papers or delaying or threatening to withdraw case/file.
- Hiding her mail from Immigration or from home.
- Forcing her to use the abusers email (she cannot have any privacy)
- Intimidation: Hiding or destroying important papers like Passports, IDs, school records for her or for the children
- Destroying her personal souvenirs from her home country or photographs
- Isolation- Forced isolation from family, friends from her country or communicating with her language.
- Disconnecting her from Wanjikus culture – this happens especially to women in inter-racial, inter-ethnic marriages and relationships. This can include Church activities, like Kigoco, Keshas, Teleconference Calls, Women Conferences, Retreats, Baby or Bridal Showers, etc., and so forth.
- Monitoring telephone calls and WhatsApp forums/who are you talking with?
- Minimizing his abusive actions saying they are not a crime for immigrants. “You are mine. I brought here in the States or I paid dowry nonsense.
- Accusing her of instigating issues “Its a;; your fault. You are not submissive” The abuser is downright manipulative, self centered and evil. Manipulators will turn everything to an equal opposite.
- Threatening her that you will report the wedding ilikuwa ya makaratasi tu, na baada umemutumia sana.
- Lying to an immigrant that you are not married at home…you are divorced na ulikuwa unataka ile majani. Kumbe mama na watoto wanakukonjea nyumbani
- Secretly Practicing bigamy
- Secretly practicing polygamy
- Undue criticism of her culture-putting her done or even making her lose face in public because of her culture
The list is endless. Abusers are highly controlling individuals and You know if you are being abused.
Another Point On DV: Hosting Families, Friends or Strangers -Some immigrants who come here with GCs have been or are being currently abused. In my opinion, the easiest person to help is someone with a GC. How would anyone or any family in their right mind oppress an immigrant? Exodus 23:9 “Do not oppress a foreign resident (an immigrant, an alien or a visitor in your home) you yourselves know how it feels to be an immigrant because you came her as an immigrant (paraphrased).
It is illegal to keep an immigrant in your home and to have them work without pay.
If anyone sponsors an immigrant for GC/help them transition to independence in less than 4 months. You can ask me how. I worked as a volunteer with Bridge Refugees/How to settle immigrants.
I was a Swahili translator. As soon as their paper work is mailed to your address, help them Learn how to drive, get a job, like we say, show them the ropes. Don’t use them as slaves. Don’t punish an immigrant. Don’t tell them toa kitu kidogo, or toa kila kitu of all the little money they have brought with them from home.
Don’t confiscate their important documents like passports, marriage certificates, birth certificates, school records, IDs, to prevent them from leaving and to keep them in bondage It is against the law.
An abused immigrant with or without a GC has the right to call 911/and be placed in a shelter instead of being abused.
Equally so, take care of your elderly Cucus or parents. If they are in your home, remember to pay them some money for the work they do.
There are things a host can provide, for all other things, an immigrant needs to have money to take care of themselves, and possibly their families at home. Remember you too are an immigrant who arrived here earlier.
If you are a victim of DV due to immigration issues, you are not alone. It is not your fault.
Get PROFESSIONAL help sooner not later. If you are in a crisis, or your life is threatened, get out of that house, and call 911. Never tell an abuser that you are going to report them or you have reported them. A lot of heinous crimes occur during this disclosure.
Some abusers are sick and might need mental health intervention. No one is quipped to handle abuse. Just Do It. Get help. It is better to be wrong and apologize, than to be sorry and be silenced forever. Speak Up, and speak loudly.
I like the theme I see at the Airports, If you See Something, Hear Something, Tell!! There is time to keep quiet and there is time to talk. PLEASE SPEAK UP AND BREAK THE SILENCE. God – He enacts justice for orphans and for widows, and He loves immigrants giving them food and clothing…” (Deuteronomy 10:18)
Domestic Violence Prevention
Family Violence Prevention.
Next? Article 3: Immigrants have great options.