Sexual assault survivors 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 survivors of sexual assault – who are mostly women – choose what they believe is a safer alternative: living and working in unsafe, predatory environments.
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 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.
Most undocumented immigrant survivors 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:
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:
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.
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.