Domestic Violence FAQs

If You Have Questions About How Your Situation Affects Your Immigration Status, CALL HIAS Pennsylvania: (215) 832-0900

You may be eligible for special immigration relief as a survivor of domestic violence if:

Your current or prior legal spouse is a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident and has abused you

You have been helpful to the police when they investigated a domestic or sexual violence incident in which you or your child were the victim

For more details, click here.


Frequently Asked Questions:

What is domestic violence?

What resources are available for victims?

I'm not a US citizen. Would I be deported if I seek help against domestic violence?

Is it possible for abusers to change?

Are men victims of domestic violence?

Does violence occur in same-sex relationships?

What should I do if I am currently in an abusive relationship or thinking about leaving one?


What is domestic violence?

Domestic Violence is a broad term that covers many different types of behavior.  It can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse (using or withholding money to gain control of the victim). It could also include threats related to immigration status and separation from children.

Domestic violence affects women and men regardless of age, religion, cultural background, immigration status, race, education or economic status.  Every day, thousands of people are affected by domestic violence. Abusers often make it very hard for victims to escape the relationship, controlling their time and money and making them fear for their safety if they try to leave.  Resources are available.  If you are a victim, you are not alone.  

Do you live in: Chester, Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery or Philadelphia County? For more information about domestic violence, read below.


What resources are available for victims?

There are a lot of options for survivors. Protection from Abuse orders are available to keep the abuser away, as are domestic violence shelters, counselors and anonymous hotlines.  Survivors can choose whatever help is best for them. Click on the Resources link for more information. 

* For immediate help CALL 911

If you are a victim, the policy of the Philadelphia Police is NOT to ask about your immigration status! When you are in immediate danger, you should call the police for help.

For any other services or information, call the 24 hour, toll free Philadelphia domestic violence hotline at 1.866.723.3014.  They have interpretation services available for any language. 

For information about resources in every county in Pennsylvania, visit:


I’m not a U.S. citizen. Would I be deported if I seek help against domestic violence?

No, there are laws in place that protect survivors and victims of domestic violence, no matter your immigration status. Call the domestic violence helpline: 1.866.723.3014. Domestic violence advocates will work with you to determine the safest options for your situation.

In Philadelphia:

The Philadelphia police should not ask a person seeking police assistance about immigration status or report an undocumented person to immigration, unless that person is suspected of criminal activity. 

Family court judges generally do not ask about immigration status or report individuals to immigration. 

If you are asked about your immigration status, you do not have to answer right away, and can request to consult with an attorney before answering.


Is it possible for abusers to change?

It is possible, but is very difficult, takes a long time and may not be possible to do while still in the relationship that has developed patterns of abuse.  Changing must be the abuser’s choice.  Sometimes physical abuse stops, but other forms of abuse continue, such as emotional and financial abuse and controlling and manipulative behavior.  All forms of abuse are devastating to victims. If you know or are an abuser in Philadelphia County who wants help:

Treatment for Perpetrators:


The Men’s Resource Center

Creative Health Services Batterers Treatment Program - Project SAFE (Montgomery County)


Are men victims of domestic violence?

Yes, there are male victims of domestic violence.  In fact, men account for over 10% of all sexual assault victims. Domestic violence is not about men versus women, it’s about violence versus peace and control versus respect.  That affects us all – men, women and children.

Click here or here for more information about male victims of abuse.


Does violence occur in same-sex relationships?

Violence does occur in same-sex relationships. In fact, statistics show that same-sex relationship violence is as common as heterosexual relationship violence.

Click here for more on abuse in LGBTQ relationships

Click here if you are LGBTQ and need help in Philadelphia


What should I do if I am currently in an abusive relationship or thinking about leaving one?

You must protect your physical safety.  Develop a safety plan to keep yourself and your children safe. The Philadelphia domestic violence hotline (1.866.723.3014) may be able to help. Do not forget to bring important immigration-related documents with you!

These could include:

  • Birth certificates for you, your spouse or partner, your children
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce decrees
  • Passports
  • I-94 cards
  • Copies of any applications filed with immigration, and immigration responses
  • Copies of spouse immigration documents, especially naturalization certificate, US passport, US work permit, US permanent resident card (or “green card”), Social Security Number
  • Documents to show you lived with and had a life with your spouse (eg joint taxes, leases, bank account statements, utility bills for both spouses, letters and cards family photos)
  • Documents to show abusive relationship (eg Protection From Abuse records, police reports and documents, medical records, photos of injuries or damage to property



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