Undocumented Victims of Domestic Violence Are Turning to Hotlines Instead of Officers

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is receiving an influx of calls from undocumented abuse survivors.

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In 2016, the hotline responded to 323,660 phone calls, texts and online contacts. Of them, 7,053 dealt with immigration-related issues, which is up about 30 percent from 2015.

Officials attribute the sharp increase of calls to undocumented survivors' growing fear of the police. They are seeking much-needed help but don't want their attempt of escaping a violent home to result in their deportation.

"It's no surprise that's someone who's being abused, but fears deportation if she calls the police, would reach out to the national hotline to try to find out if she has any other options," Kim Gandy, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told the AP.

She says that it's common for abusers to tell undocumented victims that they will be deported, while their children, if they are U.S. citizens, would stay in the country and risk similar harm.

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"It's about the worst threat you can make to someone," said Gandy.