As a victim of domestic violence in particular, you have the right to utilize many programs, whether or not you are documented. In the majority of cases, if the program does not have certain requirements – such as a certain level of income – for the victim to receive help, the program is open to anyone. If the program has certain requirements for receiving help, it is possible that only “qualified” immigrants can receive assistance. Program that deny help to undocumented immigrants who suffer from abuse risk being accused of discrimination for violating federal law. Following are some examples of programs that are open to everyone:
Activities to Protect Workers, Children and Youth – Many community centers offer activities designed to protect the life and safety of the community residents. Activities include Safe Nights in which young people participate so parents do not have to fear that they are in the street or in some danger. During the holiday season – such as for New Year’s Eve – some center offer safe nights so parents can go out and do not have to find another person with whom to leave their children. For workers, unions are doing many activities to assure that they are paid well and that they are working in safe conditions.
Child support – The law requires that a father support his children, even if you are living apart, even if you were never married, and without consideration for immigration status. You should contact a family lawyer or a domestic violence activist to learn how to obtain Child Support. Some women may be eligible to receive alimony or other economic support.
Community Food Banks – Community banks provide food for people who do not have money to purchase it. (The difference between food banks and soup kitchens is that in the banks the food is not cooked or served ready-to-eat.) Second Harvest Food Bank, Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Jim Gray (608) 223-9121.
Community Centers and Health Centers for Migrants – These centers offer services for medical attention, dental, WIC (see the description at the end of this section), health education, and consultation for domestic violence. The health center in Wautoma, Wisconsin is the only one in Wisconsin that specializes in services for migrants. Family Health Medical and Dental Center, Wautoma, Wisconsin 54982. (920) 787-5514.
Soup Kitchens – A “soup kitchen” is a place where people prepare and serve food for those who do not have the money to buy and prepare their own. People who come for food do not have to pay. Soup kitchens are often found in community centers or in churches.
Victim Witness Compensation – The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) authorizes federal financial assistance in each state with the purpose of compensating and assisting victims of federal crimes and financing training and technical assistance. Eligible expenses may include crisis counseling, mental health treatment, financial counseling, and other financial services through a state program.
Crisis Counseling and Intervention Programs – The intention of a crisis counseling program is to provide a short-term service to help alleviate any suffering, tension, or health problems caused or aggravated by a situation or its effects. Intervention programs focus on issue of power and control an don getting the abuser to take responsibility of his actions. Specially trained people work with groups, couples, or individuals in intervention. In shelters, there are community support and counseling groups that provide various options for your situation and for you to talk about what is happening.
Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS), Madison, Wisconsin (608) 251-4445 – Available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; or the crisis line (toll-free) 1-800-747-4045 – available 24 hours a day. Serving victims and survivors of domestic violence, including children from violent homes. Spanish speaking
Vaccinations – In addition to the other services that the community health centers off, vaccinations against various illnesses are available for your children. Ask in the centers which vaccinations children need and how you can get them for your children.
Family Law – A lawyer or legal advocate can explain what your options are as a victim of an abuser. He or she can also help you decide what to do regarding your children, your home, your property and anything that has to do with your legal and family situation in respect to domestic violence.
Taxpayer Identification Number – For those people who do not qualify for a Social Security number.
Violence and Abuse Prevention – Just as there are drug abuse prevention programs, there are also programs directed to prevention of physical abuse. Talk to an agency or health center to find out where you can get help. Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCADV), (608) 255-0539.
Nutrition Programs – There are nutrition programs for the elderly and for people who require special assistance. By calling the local Commission on Aging, a person can meet other senior citizens to eat with a group in a relaxing and friendly atmosphere; or meals can be delivered to a person’s home.
Programs for Adverse Weather – There are programs that can help you in case you have problems such as paying for utilities if they have increased suddenly due to weather. If you cannot live in your home for reasons due to weather – a tornado, a storm, etc. – you can get temporary housing. Also, there are places that provide services and emergency health items – such as eye exams, glasses, dental exams, etc. – or clothing such as jackets, sweaters, and pants.
Legal Protection – Temporary Restraining Orders and Mandates – A protection order can prohibit the abuser from contacting or assaulting you, your children, or other family members. With a protection order you can request that the abuser leave your home and that he not be able to interfere with your immigration status. For the protection order to be effective, you have to agree with the possibility that the police may be called, whether by you or by another person. This is so that the order can be enforced. Ayuda, Inc. Legal Aid, 1736 Columbia Road, N.W., Washington, DC 20009 – (202) 387-4848
Police Protection – Whether or not you are documented, you have the right to be protected from any harm anyone may cause you or your children. You should feel secure calling the police in any situation.
Refuge or Temporary Housing – Houses of refuge (shelters) cannot refuse you a place to stay even if they receive federal funds from Housing and Urban Development or Health and Human Services. Temporary housing is given when a person wants to leave a domestic violence situation, but needs economic help (finding a job) and a place to live. Temporary housing is a “step” between emergency housing and permanent housing. This is given when a person does not have a home, to victims of domestic violence, or to abused, abandoned, or runaway children. Temporary housing may be provided for up to two years.
Drug Abuse Services – There are resources for intervention in the areas of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as gambling.
Services for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults – Like children and youth, there are some adults who are vulnerable because of their lack of mental or physical capacity and at times they suffer from physical or financial abuse. Services for the protection of vulnerable adults intervene in respect to legal, health, and social matters. These services include crisis hotlines, protection orders, legal clinics, emergency housing, and support groups.
Child Protective Services – In many cases of abuse it is not only adults who suffer. Services exist specifically focused on protecting children, providing psychological counseling for them, and , if necessary, removing them from the situation.
Child and Mental Health Services – There are organizations that provide services to improve the emotional and mental well being of children, adolescents, and families.
Services for Victims of Domestic Violence or other Criminal Activities – There are organizations or agencies can put you in contact with a lawyer or legal advocate or a counseling program and help you make a safety plan.
National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233 (toll-free); Interpreters for various languages are available.
National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) Legal Defense and Education Fund, (202) 326-0040
- Works to assure rights and legal protections for immigrant victims
- Cooperates with organizations working on welfare rights
- Advocates for public policy and litigation
- Provides technical assistance and training for professionals who provide direct services to immigrant women victims.
The Legal Services Project, Ramona Natera, Attorney – (608) 255-8471 – Specializes in immigration and domestic violence issues. Spanish speaking
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) – The purpose of this special supplementary nutrition program is to promote and maintain the health and well-being of women who are pregnant, postpartum, or nursing and are nutritionally at risk. WIC provides supplementary nutritious food and information on nursing and offers references for other health and nutrition services. WIC supports and promotes nursing.
These programs do not ask for proof of documentation. THEY CANNOT BE PENALIZED FOR NOT VERIFYING IMMIGRATION STATUS.
Please do not be afraid to call the police, utilize shelters for women, call crisis centers, ask for financial assistance for victims, or got to restraining order clinics. It is not necessary to reveal your immigration status to receive these services and it is not likely that you will be asked.