Working with Immigrant Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence

Working with Immigrant Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2020-06-04
Unit 1Slide Deck: Working with Immigrant Survivors
Unit 2Transcript: Working with Immigrant Survivors
Unit 3Recording: Working with Immigrant Survivors
Unit 4Workbook: Working with Immigrant Survivors

Victims deal with lots of barriers when it comes to seeking support, assistance, or justice itself. It becomes a double whammy when the victim is part of a marginalized sector of society as in the case of unauthorized immigrants. This session will specifically focus on the unique experience of immigrant/refugee/asylum-seeking survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

To unpack this topic are Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence’s Ruby Barraza and Victoria Riechers. Ruby is the Domestic Violence Response Coordinator in charge of training and technical assistance to domestic violence advocates and service providers. Meanwhile, Victoria is the Sexual Violence Response Coordinator and she trains sexual assault responders and service providers as well as assists communities in developing sexual assault response teams.

Specifics they included in this in-depth discussion are:

  • A primer on the importance of language and terms used when talking to and referencing individuals.
  • Defining and understanding terms and the different immigration status in the US.
  • A glimpse into the most recent and timely policy updates that affect immigrants in the US in relation to change in status, public charge, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Triphasic Perspective on Migrant Trauma that indicates how these individuals experience traumatic events before, during, and even after immigrating.
  • How gender-violence transpires across all three phases and significantly impact an immigrant survivor.
  • The different qualities and circumstances that abusers exploit to gain control of the victims.
  • Figures in immigration facilities and other anecdotes that highlight immigrants’ vulnerability to sexual violence.
  • Statutes and policies that aim to address the rampant abuse of immigrants.
  • The numerous barriers to leaving abusers and reporting victimization that immigrant survivors of sexual and domestic violence face.
  • Understanding the immigration relief available for survivors, tips on how they can avail these, the requirements, and other specifics.
  • Best practices when working with immigrant survivors that highlights the importance of understanding their culture, giving them language access, and developing a safety and family preparedness plan.

In the limited time for Q&A, Victoria and Ruby addressed clarifications on the name of the video shown during the webinar and doing advocacy work in the remote environment setting we’re living in due to COVID-19.


This is one of three webinars on working with survivors of assault:


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “I had no idea there were so many categories of immigrants. This was very eye-opening.” — Kirsten
  • “The most valuable thing I learned was the context of the rapid, quiet and oppressive changes to the immigration laws that have happened and the etiquette of how to interact with immigrant survivors.” — Tina
  • “I learned the difference between U-Visa, T-Visa and Vawas. I didn’t know that these existed. I learned a lot from this webinar. Living in [my state], we do not handle many undocumented immigrant situations.” — Shelley
  • “It was a great webinar on the topic! The presenter was very informative.” — Marisol
  • “The webinar was very informative especially about the social barriers.” –Monica


Additional Resources
3 years ago
After the Webinar: Working with Immigrant Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Abuse. Q&A with the Presenters
Webinar presenters Ruby Barraza and Victoria Riechers answered a number of your questions after thei […]
5 years ago
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The Neurobiology and Traumatic Impact of Sexual Assault
Traversing a sexual violence case is tricky. When sexual assault survivors are asked to recount the […]
5 years ago
Understanding Sexual Assault Perpetration: Dynamics, Tactics, and the Psychology of Sex Offenders
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6 years ago
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Domestic Violence Offenders are often times charismatic, charming and come across as “easily mana […]