Domestic Violence Awareness Month Recap 2021: You Are Not Alone
October was designated Domestic Violence Awareness month in 1987. Every year, organizations across the nation honor and support victim / survivors through various campaigns and initiatives. This year, WATCH project court monitoring volunteers sent letters of support to victim / survivors of violence against women seeking asylum here in the United States.
For the asylees we work with, many of whom are survivors of domestic or sexual violence, seeking asylum means leaving behind everything in hopes of obtaining safety. Many faced denial of equal status under the law, a lack of state protection, ineffective laws, and both state and society condoning the violence. They then find themselves in a new, unfamiliar world after having endured the trauma of violence in their home country, in flight, and as they resettle in a new country.
Victims/survivors face multiple obstacles on their journeys, including language barriers and a lack of support. Some have had to leave children or other family behind; others often have no belongings other than the clothes they are wearing. As survivors arrive at the border and navigate a port of entry, they often have no idea how long they may spend in a detention facility before being released. The experiences they have shared paint pictures of the emotional struggles they have faced. The bruises may have physically healed. The trauma, however, is enduring. This includes additional abuse endured at the hands of guards or other detainees in detention centers. Scared of being turned away or even frightened of deportation after release, survivors sometimes say nothing and feel like they are alone, with no one and nowhere to turn to help. They make their way to communities here in Minnesota and around the United States. In cases where they find organizations like The Advocates, they can receive free legal representation in their asylum applications. Not knowing who they can trust due to past violence, their stories reveal a pattern of isolation, fear and waiting for months or years for work permits. Their stories reveal how deeply courageous, powerful, and inspiring these individuals are.
To learn more about our work supporting victim/survivors seeking asylum here in Minnesota or for volunteer opportunities, visit our website. If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence, sexual violence, or human trafficking, please contact the Minnesota Day One Crisis Hotline at 1-886-223-1111.
By Elizabeth Montgomery, Staff Attorney; Jessica Weiss and Marissa Soares, Social Work Interns