If you are a farmworker and a victim of domestic violence, or know someone who is a victim, contact Migrant Legal Aid for help.
Migrant Legal Aid works with migrant victims of domestic violence to inform them that reporting these crimes and cooperating with the police is crucial in order to be eligible for the fullest protection provided by the law.
Migrant Legal Aid’s program Migrants Overcoming Violent Environments (MOVE) protects migrant women and their children from domestic violence and sexual assault by ensuring healthy relationships at home and work. Migrant Legal Aid assists victims of domestic violence with issues that include personal protection orders, divorce, custody issues, immigration, and obtaining a green card.
The Importance of Reporting
Domestic violence crimes are rarely reported, even though they are the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44. Not only are these crimes extremely harmful, they often occur more than once. A woman who experiences one instance of domestic violence is twice as likely to be a victim again over a two-year period. Furthermore, abuse is not always physical; it can be verbal or mental, and take the form of threats, isolation, or forced sex.
These forms of violence against women are not often reported; it is estimated that only ¼ of all physical assaults, 1/5 of all rates, and ½ of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.
Violence against women is not rare within the Latina community; one in four Latina women report having been abused in their lifetime. However, migrant women in the United States rarely report these crimes to the police.
MOVE helps families and children overcome violent environments and helps survivors of violence live independently of their abuser, adjust their immigration status, and earn a living for their subsistence.
This autonomy for migrant women is crucial for their children, because it means that their custodial parent can establish a permanent job, home and roots in Michigan.
Migrant Legal Aid’s domestic violence program was founded in 2008 because of a need within the community. During ourtreach trips, Migrant Legal Aid found notable evidence of domestic violence in the migrant camps and realized that there was no agency in West Michigan who prioritized helping farmworker victims of violence. Thus, the program began by collaborating with the Diocese of Kalamazoo Immigration Assistance Program and Farmworker Legal Services.
Within the first three months of the Domestic Violence Program’s installation in 2010, Migrant Legal Aid opened domestic assault cases for eight clients, which involved the safety of an estimated 25 children, and fielded inquiries from a dozen others.