Photo: Moody College of Communication, CC BY-SA 2.0
Trump’s ICE roundups mean more abusers will stay on the streets, instead of in jail where they belong.
One in four women will be abused in their lifetime. Domestic violence kills an average of three women a day, and is the leading cause of injury for women 18-44. Women stay with abusive partners for a variety of reasons, including fear, isolation, financial dependence, and manipulation. 99% of abuse cases include financial abuse. And while roughly fifty percent of women who are in abusive relationships are physically injured, only about a fifth of those that are injured seek medical treatment for their injuries. One of the most difficult things in the world is for an abused partner to leave their abuser. It takes a woman an average of seven attempts to leave before she does so for good, and leaving is the most dangerous period in an abusive relationship. Only about half of domestic violence cases get reported to police. When cases are brought to the police, actual prosecution rates can vary widely: in Phoenix, 43% of domestic violence cases don’t go to trial, while in 2005 an Albuquerque newspaper reported that about 80% of local domestic violence cases were dismissed before trial.
And now, thanks to Donald Trump’s vendetta against all undocumented immigrants, and ICE agents’ habit of arresting domestic violence victims at protection order hearings, many more abusers will never face justice. A video was released of ICE agents lurking in the hallways of a Denver courthouse, resulting in heightened fear and (probably justified) distrust of the court system from the immigrant community. Four women in Denver who were survivors of violent domestic abuse informed court officials that they no longer wished to proceed with domestic violence cases that were pending on their behalf because they were worried that they would be deported after being in court. All four cases had to be dropped without the survivor’s cooperation. All four abusers will now be free to continue to abuse their current and future partners.
Undocumented women are already more vulnerable to domestic abuse, as their partners can use fears of police involvement and deportation as a mechanism to keep their abused partners from seeking help. In a survey of undocumented immigrants, 70% reported that they would not report abuse to police if they were abused by a partner. Abusers can also manipulate details and the legal system to ensure that when their partners do report abuse, it is the abused partner and not the abuser who actually faces greater legal trouble. While U-Visas have traditionally been a (lengthy, complicated, and not-guaranteed) option for domestic abuse survivors to remain in the country if they cooperate with police on their cases, current ICE guidelines make the safety of the U-Visa uncertain.
All women deserve safety. All women deserve the right to escape abuse. All women deserve to believe that the criminal justice system will help them. Trump’s policies are making a situation that is already difficult much worse, and is prioritizing the histrionic pearl-clutching of racist white people who are “afraid” of immigrants over the actual, lived experiences of women who experience fear every day.
Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not charting the many, many anti-women moves made by the current administration, she studies gender in popular culture.
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