Surviving domestic violence and what comes after


By: Cecilia Rodriguez

When a person is experiencing physical, verbal, and even emotional abuse, they should seek help. “People who use state social services will not be forced to make a report or something they do not want to do.” This is what Laura Morales, Housing Services Manager at the domestic violence shelter Coalition for Family Harmony of Ventura County, mentions.

María Gonzales, a 20-year-old girl originally from Mexico, left her native country to reunite with her husband in the United States. At first, she thought that everything was going very well in their relationship, but as time went by, her husband Juan began to attack her psychologically and even reached the point of physically attacking her.

For fear of being deported to Mexico, María hid from everyone, including her family and friends, the domestic abuse she was experiencing.

In an interview with Morales, she mentions how victims of domestic violence are consumed by fear, but the level of fear is not the same for everyone. For most undocumented women, there is an additional fear of being deported, which makes it more difficult to leave an abusive relationship.

María eventually faced her fear and decided to press charges against Juan because she could no longer stand what was happening. At first, María feared being discriminated against for being an undocumented person, but fortunately, the officers who assisted María on the day she denounced Juan helped her feel protected. Fortunately, after several attempts, María managed to leave her abuser. She feared that she would not be able to move forward on her own since she felt that she depended on Juan.

Morales mentioned that “Family, economic, and cultural ties also make it very difficult for indigenous women to leave relationships where there is abuse. “This layer of complexity is a layer that other higher class women don’t have to deal with.”

This reveals the great complexity that exists within domestic violence relationships in the migrant indigenous community.

María got ahead on her own despite all these complications and is now an enterprising person who works in agriculture and also sells strawberries and clothes in her free time. 

María calls on other women and advises them that when they are going through a similar situation or any type of abuse, whether emotional, psychological, or physical, to ask for help and not remain silent or silent. María invites the community to contact the “Coalition for Family Harmony” if they believe they are experiencing domestic violence at 800-799-7233.

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