When a child is young we teach them to stand up for themselves if they are bullied. We teach them to tell the bully that we don't appreciate how we are treated, or if it gets bad to tell a parent or teacher. Our heart breaks when we see little children bullied.
According to a study, 49% of children between grades 4 and 12 have been bullied. About 71% of people have witnessed someone getting bullied at their school.
Bullying doesn't stop as a child passes school. It gets nastier as we get older. Bullies learn more ways and more styles to bully. There is cyberbullying, physical bullying, sexual bullying, prejudicial bullying, relational bullying, the list goes on. It should be easy for the victims to reach out and get the help and support they need. But as a person is older, it gets harder and harder for them to escape the vicious cycle of abuse. One of the most prevalent and disturbing forms of bullying an adult faces is Domestic Abuse. Domestic Abuse/Violence doesn't just mean physical abuse but also includes emotional and psychological manipulation and abuse.
Once someone becomes a victim of Domestic Abuse it becomes almost impossible to come out of it. And as bad as it is to be a victim, it is even harder for victims who are also immigrants to this country.
Most women who move to the United States from South Asia come on an H-4 Visa. This means that her stay in the US is dependent upon her husband's. If any crime is committed by the husband he is to be deported back to his home country, which means that the wife too would be deported. This is one of the primary reasons that an immigrant domestic abuse victim does not report the crime, ultimately contributing to the 70% of domestic abuse cases that go unreported.
There is very little support for these women because not only would reporting domestic abuse risk them getting sent back to their home country, they may also lose their child. Social standards, especially in the South Asian culture, makes reporting domestic abuse harder for these women.
There is the negative preconception that women who were in abusive relationships "asked for it" by continuing to stay in the relationship despite early signs of abuse. It is easy to assume that but it is so much more complicated for the woman in the relationship. The relationship is all the woman knows. It is so much more complicated when there is a child involved and the woman is in a new country totally dependent upon the husband to help her. For most South Asian women this is all they know. The culture feeds them that men power and allows the women to be inferior. That's fundamentally wrong. If they divorce their husband they are looked down upon.
To make matters worse, there is a huge language barrier for these women. Many immigrants can't speak or understand proper English and so when they call the police they don't understand what the victim is saying, often mistakenly assuming that they are the criminal and arresting them. More often than not, reporting the case backfires on the victim and she faces negative repercussions. It is a vicious cycle which once a woman is so trapped in, there is almost no way out.
But we, the community, the survivors, can help these women. We can make a difference. We can help support these women when they are in dire need of it. We have to stop putting the blame on the women and fight for them. We have to show that we are accepting of the women and change the incorrect preconceptions we have of domestic abuse victims. In today's day and age, it is not at all hard to start a movement. Share this article, share facts with people. Create clubs at schools, work with local universities, set up seminars and marches. Start fundraisers and donate to organizations supporting this cause.
In Britain, there is already laws that provide a cushion to the victim so he or she can report the crime without the fear of facing the negative repercussions. The U.S. needs this too. We need to push legislators to do something to allow these immigrant domestic abuse victims to report the cases without fear of the personal consequences. Our victims are worth fighting for. Fight for them.