Sexual assault victims face tremendous fear when deciding to speak out about their abuse. Many wonder if the person they tell will believe or blame them, especially when the abuser is a significant other or person of power. For undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., these fears are compounded with those of being deported, losing their children or being labeled with a cultural stigma. Rather than report the crime, these victims of sexual assault – who are mostly women – choose what they believe is a safer alternative: living and working in unsafe, predatory environments.
When Sexual Assault Goes Unreported
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one in five of all women have reportedly been raped, while one in 20 have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. Sadly, these statistics don’t account for the many sexual assaults that go unreported, such as those from individuals with precarious legal status.
Amnesty International reports that 60 percent of young girls and women are victimized during their journey from Mexico into the U.S., with most going unreported. Once immigrants settle in the U.S., their lack of legal status unfairly exposes them to a heightened level of potential sexual violence both at work and in the home.
The Challenges Undocumented Sexual Assault Victims Face
The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says that no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Safety and freedom are basic human rights provided to those living in the U.S. This means everyone – documented or not – has a right to exist in violence-free environments and seek justice against the perpetrators who violate this right. For immigrants, misconceptions about their rights as well as a lack of trust in the legal system build a tremendous barrier to reporting the abuse.
Undocumented immigrants live in constant fear of “being found,” so the thought of walking into a police station or attorney’s office seeking help seems counterproductive. Immigrants also depend on their jobs for survival, which makes reporting workplace sexual abuse extremely difficult for fear of not being taken seriously, job retaliation or even further abuse based on their vulnerability.
Immigrant Protection Rights in America
Most undocumented immigrant victims are females who don’t realize that reporting sexual assault is the safest path to stop abuse in its tracks. As experienced sexual assault attorneys, we help support and guide immigrants who struggle with uncertainties about exposing their abusers.
It’s quite common for undocumented immigrants to ask:
- Will I get detained or deported if I report a crime if I’m here illegally?
- Will Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) be notified?
- How will the American legal system protect me?
- Will my family get deported if I file a claim?
- If my husband is the abuser, will he get arrested?
- What type of help is available to me and my children?
- If I file a report against my boss, can he fire me?
- Does the company I work for have to report the abuse to the proper authorities?
- Can I talk to someone about the abuse without filing a report?
- Will I have to testify if my abuser is arrested and is tried?
- Do I have to pay for a sexual abuse attorney’s services?
Have You Been Sexually Assaulted? The Jessica Pride Team Can Help
If you’ve suffered sexual assault and don’t know where to turn because of your legal status, please contact the team at Jessica Pride to find out how we can help.
As an immigrant, you are protected from domestic and workplace sexual violence in many ways, one being the U-Visa. Created in 2000, this provision was created with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, which includes the Battered Women’s Protection Act. This law allows victims of certain crimes to stay in the U.S. if they file a report and assist police in pursuing the perpetrator. As experienced sexual assault attorneys looking out for your rights, we can educate you about this law.
Our dedicated and compassionate team is prepared to do the following:
- Find a safe place for you to stay, such as a shelter for women at no cost to you
- Seek medical care to help ensure you regain your health
- Report the attack to the proper authorities
- Obtain a restraining order against your abuser, even if it’s your significant other
You should not have to choose between enduring abuse and facing separation from your loved ones. Contact Jessica Pride today (619) 516-8166 for a no-cost, no obligation consultation to find out more about what protections are offered to you. All calls are confidential.
Immigrant Sexual Assault Protection Is Here for You
As an undocumented immigrant, your protection rights stand strong despite reports of law enforcement officials who fail to protect undocumented immigrant women. Unfortunately, these reports intensify concerns about reporting abuse, while strengthening the perpetrators’ position so they’re never held accountable for their actions. It also opens the door for continued abuse.
There is also an overwhelming fear of being deported since the election of President Donald Trump. Since his presidency, the number of reported sexual violence incidents has dropped significantly across the nation, especially among Latino women. In California, this group of women is a significant part of our population.
The fear of new immigrant laws and restrictions is playing a strong role in reduced reporting, despite the continued availability of protection:
- In Los Angeles, California, reports of domestic violence among Latinos have declined by 10 percent and reports of sexual assault by 25 percent from a year ago.
- Domestic violence shelter Laura’s House in Orange County, California, has seen a drop from 70 reports a month to less than one report a week. About half of the reports were from Latino women.
- In Houston, Texas, the number of Latinos reporting rape has fallen by more than 40 percent.
A Safe Way to Seek Justice and Protection for You and Your Family
If you’ve been sexually assaulted at work, home, or by a legal authority, contact our offices today. The experienced and compassionate team at Jessica Pride is here to listen to your story while maintaining complete confidence. No woman deserves to be victimized – ever. The deeply personal nature of sexual abuse can rob you of your dignity, health and will to be a strong, productive member of society.
Are You an Undocumented Victim Who Has Been Assaulted?
Our team can help you understand and better navigate available resources, even if you’re undocumented.
We offer the following services to help keep you safe and hold your abuser accountable:
- Bilingual legal services
- Locating a shelter that’s convenient for you and your children
- Application for a U-Visa or legal status to help protect you and your children
- Appropriate legal counsel to support your right to protection and compensation
- Obtain Court Ordered Protection to help keep your abuser from harming you again
- Work with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials to help ensure the law is implemented as congress intended
- Hold you abuser or the company where the abuse occurred accountable in either civil or criminal court
Not Ready to Call? That’s Okay.
If you still feel uncertain, there are additional services for available to you as you build the courage to come forward about sexual abuse. Your safety is always our first concern. Please contact a sexual abuse helpline, such as RAINN, to speak confidentially with a member of their trained support staff. Whether the abuse happened a year ago, yesterday or it’s still happening, you have a right to speak to someone confidentially about your situation. When you’re ready to move forward on your path to legal protection, possible citizenship, and a much safer future, the team at Jessica Pride is here for you.
Ready to Call an Experienced Sexual Assault Attorney?
Contact Jessica Pride today (619) 516-8166 for a no-cost, no obligation consultation. Remember, it’s not your fault. Your story matters, and we believe you. When you make the brave decision to come forward, we will be here for you every step of the way.