Fear of deportation or having their children taken away from them ranks high on the list of reasons why women won't report domestic abuse or sexual assault, according to the El Paso Police Department.
Although city-specific, this speaks to a larger issue at hand: How can women seek help if they feel they themselves will be punished?
Every nine seconds a woman is physically abused by her husband, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 2011, 3,707 cases of domestic violence against women were reported to the EPPD. According to their website, domestic violence means an act by a member of a family or household against another member that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, sexual assault, or a threat that places that member in fear of such harm.
It is against procedure to ask immigration status, according to officials who handle the cases. It's unknown, however, how many women actually know that.
Also creating a trickier situation: Christina Garcia from the Las Americas Advocacy Center told borderzine.com that the center is receiving many referrals from ICE because many of the victims are being falsely accused.
“A husband will commit an act of violence against his wife, for example, then when she calls the police the husband will do something to himself to make it look like she assaulted him so they both get arrested,” Garcia said. She said she is seeing a large increase in false cases this year.
Reaching women and understanding fear of reporting domestic abuse is hard, but made even harder with undocumented status.
“I believe that immigrants become more victimized because of their status,” Garcia said.
What do you think? Do you agree with Garcia? Share in the comments!