In the current political climate, reports of sexual assault and domestic violence to law enforcement among undocumented people have decreased. For all undocumented persons, the fear of deportation is overwhelming. In some cases, this fear is made significantly worse knowing that, should they be deported, they would be in imminent danger at the hands of an abuser in their native country. The difficult decision to come to the United States for these women and men is often based solely on the hope that it will provide safety for their families and ensure their own survival. Response has been, and always will be, a safe haven for people in these situations.
In 2017, we have served 92 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. 23 percent of our clients are undocumented. These immigrants often feel isolated because of the language and culture barrier and often struggle with addressing their feelings regarding current and past traumatic experiences. They are lonely and scared. On top of that, there are very few affordable options in the Roaring Fork Valley for immigration consultations with attorneys.
In September, we organized a free immigration clinic for undocumented survivors in Boulder with Safe House Progressive Alliance. Their contracted immigration lawyers were able to help 10 people that same day. Included in those 10 people were an 11-year-old victim of sexual assault; a 26-year-old male victim of domestic violence at the hands of his husband; a mother of four children who has been a victim of domestic violence for the past 15 years; and a 40-year-old woman who was forced to leave her native country due to multiple death threats. Our staff drove the group 215 miles each way to the clinic. We will continue to do everything in our power to help undocumented survivors.
Response’s mission is to support, educate and empower survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Pitkin and western Eagle counties. We provide free, professional, non-judgmental, confidential services to all people regardless of residential status, socioeconomic status, gender, race, creed, sexual orientation, or origin. If you have friends, employees or family members that you are concerned may be in an abusive relationship, please call (970) 925-SAFE (7322).
Jacqueline de Achaval
Response bilingual program coordinator