Domestic and sexual violence is against the law in United States. Sexual and domestic violence can happen regardless of where we live, who we are, who we love, where we come from, what our economic status is, what language we speak or what our citizenship status is. Culture is often used as an excuse for an abuser to be violent or controlling towards a partner.
Victims may also be afraid to tell anyone in their community about the abuse because they are ashamed, embarrassed and they may blame themselves for the abuse. If they left the abuser, then they might have to leave their ethnic community.
When victims of domestic violence were not born in the U.S., it can create many barriers for them. Immigration status can be used by an abuser to control and instill fear in victims.
Cultural differences and language barriers can also impact victims’ ability to seek help.
Sometimes victims stay in an abusive relationship, not only because of fear or finances, but because of their cultural beliefs or citizenship status. For example:
- Your abuser may lie to you about your rights, use your cultural background against you, or use threats about child custody or deportation to silence and frighten you.
- You may worry what might happen if your abuser is deported.
- You may feel dependent on your abuser economically or for immigration status.
- You may worry about your family here or in your home country if you choose to speak out about the abuse.
- You may feel that you can’t reach out for help if English is not your first language.
- You may feel ashamed about the abuse or concerned about what your community will think if they know about the abuse you are experiencing.
- If you’re undocumented, you may worry about whether it’s safe to talk to your doctor or anyone about what’s happening to you.
- If you’re undocumented, you may worry about whether you can use or trust the court system to keep you safe. Additionally, turning to police or other authorities may seem unwise, if these were sources of danger or abuse in your home country.
It’s common to feel overwhelmed, confused, afraid, depressed, and alone. You may be unsure of what to do about your situation. You may not know what your options or where to get help.
An in-person interpreter can be scheduled when a face to face meeting with an advocate is planned ahead. Our hotline and outreach services use LanguageLine Solutions. This is an over-the-phone interpreting service located in California. The caller needs only to identify the language they speak. The FCS advocate will put the caller on hold, call LanguageLine Solutions, and then reconnect when the interpreter is on the line.
We can help. Call our Free 24/7 Confidential Hotline at 1.800. 537.6066.
We have Safety Planning Brochures translated into several languages.
Community and Religious Organizations:
Outreach and Support to the Congolese Community of Maine
El Centro Latino Maine
Outreach and Support to the Hispanic Community
68 Washington Ave. Portland, ME 04104
Hospitability, Hope, Healing
Roots and Fruits
A Cross Cultural and Preschool Learning Environment
72 MacArthur Circle East, South Portland, ME 04106
Immigrant Resource Center of Maine
Refugee Outreach Services, School-based Advocacy, Trainings, Anti-Violence Advocacy
265 Lisbon St. Lewiston, ME 04240
Catholic Charities of Maine
(207) 523-2700 or 1-866-200-3963
City of Portland Office of Refugee Services
190 Lancaster St. Portland, ME 04101
Maine Mental Health Partners
165 Lancaster St. Portland, ME 04101
Somali Culture and Development Association of Maine
163 Lancaster St. Portland, ME 04102
Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic
Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP)
309 Cumberland Ave., Suite 201. Portland, ME
(207) 780-1593 or 1-800-497-8505