When Domestic Abuse Victims are too Afraid to Speak Up
Written by Moses & Rooth on May 16, 2018
If you ask the typical Orlando-area police officer what scenario they fear most while on-duty, their answer probably will not be “taking down a drug dealer” or responding to a mass shooting. Instead, the officer may tell you their greatest fear is responding to a domestic violence call. And with good reason: According to the FBI, 136 police officers lost their lives between 1988 and 2016 while handling domestic violence matters. This makes domestic violence the single largest category of firearm-related fatalities for law enforcement nationwide.
Victims Face Credibility Catch-22
Of course, domestic violence is even more devastating to its victims. And in many cases, victims never bother to contact the police in the first place. A recent report published by USA Today sheds some light on the reasons why. The report cited a 2015 survey by the National Domestic Violence Hotline where about 25 percent of respondents said that while they previously reported acts of domestic violence, they would not contact the police again, mostly out of fear they would not be believed. And more comprehensive statistics gathered by the U.S. Department of Justice suggest more than half of “non-fatal domestic violence” incidents are never reported to police at all.
Many domestic violence victims feel they are in a Catch-22 situation. If they call the police right away, they are afraid that officers will not believe their story. But if they later change their mind and contact law enforcement, their delay in seeking assistance may be used as proof their allegations lack credibility.
And for many domestic abuse victims–especially in Florida–there is a secondary fear that going to the police might place them at risk for arrest or even deportation. There are approximately 110,000 unauthorized immigrants living in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan area, according to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center. Given the recent focus at the federal level on “cracking down” on undocumented immigrants, many domestic violence victims who might be subject to such a crackdown are understandably reluctant to step forward for fear of losing their jobs, home, and families.
Domestic Violence & Deportation
It should be noted that despite the political fervor surrounding undocumented immigrants, it is still not okay to commit acts of domestic violence against anyone based on their legal residency status. As U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services itself has made clear, “Under all circumstances, domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse are illegal in the United States,” and every victim–regardless of immigration status–is protected from such acts under law.
But on the flip side, if you are a non-citizen convicted of domestic violence–even if you have a visa or green card–you are subject to deportation at any time following said conviction. This means that if you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, it is critical to defend yourself in court. If you need advice or assistance from a qualified Orlando domestic violence attorney, contact Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, today at (407) 377-0150.