Survivors who are immigrants, and especially those who are not citizens, may face a number of unique challenges.
Social isolation is a huge risk for immigrant survivors. If they are in a new environment where they do not know many people and are unfamiliar with the language, culture and geography, this can make it easier for their abusers to gain power and control. In addition, they may be less informed about their legal options and less aware of support services that are available in the community.
A huge barrier is the fear of immigration-related consequences if they report the abuse. They may harbor anxieties around interactions with law enforcement agencies, who they view not as resources but as individuals to be avoided. These anxieties may be exacerbated by their abusers, who can purposely misinform them of the consequences of reporting abuse and threaten them with detention and/or deportation if they report the abuse or attempt to leave the abuser. Abusers often use immigration-status-related abuse to attempt to lock their victims in abusive relationships.