How a D.C nonprofit is helping Latinas navigate cases of domestic violence
Mil Mujeres has helped more than 5,000 women obtain green cards and step away from potentially dangerous relationships since 2007.
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We often hear that Latino and other immigrants come to America for a better opportunity and outlook for themselves and their families.
What many often don’t consider, especially in the case of Latinas, is that they are running away from domestic violence and sexual assault they’ve experienced on a constant basis in their home countries.
According to data provided by the CDC, 34.4% of Hispanic women reported ever being a victim of domestic abuse via their spouse or partner.
With the help of a local nonprofit in Washington D.C, those numbers may soon change for the better.
Mil Mujeres is working to provide free legal services in cases of domestic violence to undocumented women in the Latino community.
The organization is helping low-income Latinas that don’t speak English by helping them apply for humanitarian visas such as the U-visa, which offers protection from deportation for immigrants that have suffered major physical and mental abuse.
“The idea is for people, despite maybe not having the financial resources to hire an attorney, to be able to have an experienced attorney on their case,” Erica Vasquez, the associate director at Mil Mujeres, said to WTOP News.
Mil Mujeres also offers community outreach for people in the Washington D.C. area. Their events are usually thrown in churches, schools, and community centers.
The nonprofit was founded in 2007 to highlight the lack of legal services and translators for Latinos experiencing domestic abuse, and offer a way out.
In the 14 years since its founding, the organization has sprouted 14 other offices located across the country, including Orlando, Philadelphia, and Chicago — all areas that have large Latino communities.
Vasquez also believes the organization has been effective at helping immigrants manage the stress of being deported.
“We’ve realized that aside from the undocumented community being really vulnerable to crime, we have an idea that perhaps committing crimes against people who are undocumented will not lead to the police getting called out of fear of getting deported,” she said.
With the help of Mil Mujeres, over 5,000 people have attained green cards and stepped away from potentially dangerous relationships with their partners.
Vasquez explained that it’s hard for immigrants to step into a country without knowing the language and seek help.
Lack of resources and language barriers lead many women to stay with their abusers.
“It is really difficult to impose this expectation on them to come in and quickly learn the language and quickly obtain status because there really isn’t much of a way to do that,” she added.
The organization is devoted to helping more people obtain their legal status, especially since many domestic disputes have been rampant amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you know someone who is undocumented and you've suffered a violent crime, please let us know so we can help them,” said Vasquez.
For more information on Mil Mujeres, check out their website.