With Domestic Violence Awareness Month upon us again, I have been thinking a lot about the ways in which race, gender, class, and citizenship impact domestic violence survivors. At this time many of the loudest voices on the national stage are calling for increased mobilization around mass deportation and “securing our borders”. Even the President was blocked from authorizing an executive action which would have impacted millions of young Americans who live with the fear of having their parent(s) deported. It is in the midst of this divisive political climate that we at Violence Intervention Program (VIP) are recommitting ourselves to supporting the most vulnerable survivors and shifting the narrative to reflect real facts about immigrants in the U.S. Like, for example:
- undocumented immigrants pay nearly $12 billion in federal taxes
- immigrants (documented and undocumented) are the driving force behind many rural economies all over the country
- an estimated 3.3 million undocumented people are parents of U.S. citizens
- immigrant Latinas experiencing domestic violence have been found to be less likely to report abuse than U.S.-born Latinas
At VIP we know that the substantial economic, legal, social, and emotional barriers to survival that low/no-income immigrants, documented and undocumented, face in this country are severely compounded for women and men experiencing domestic violence. While we serve domestic violence survivors from diverse backgrounds, we are the only fully bilingual (English/Spanish) domestic violence organization offering shelter, transitional housing, counseling, and a 24 hour live hotline in all of New York City. Through our linguistically and culturally proficient approach we are able to reach and support those survivors who have been shut out of other avenues of assistance due to language, immigration status, and other barriers.
To be an immigrant, to be undocumented, to be a survivor of domestic violence, and to thrive is to defy the odds. I tip my hat to all the allies, partners, and survivors in the struggle who believe another world is possible and are fighting to make it so.