Do not put up with or tolerate being in an abusive relationship! If you are an immigrant in the United States, and if your US citizen or Green Card holder spouse or parent is abusive to you (or subjecting you to “extreme cruelty,” you may be eligible for a green card under the Violence Against Women Act (aka VAWA).

But how much “abuse” or “extreme cruelty” must a person suffer in order to be eligible. In this video, immigration attorney Otis Landerholm discusses what counts as “Abuse” and “Extreme Cruelty” for the purpose of submitting a case under VAWA.

For VAWA, how much harm do you really need to be suffering?

First of all, hitting punching, slapping, kicking, or any physical kind of harm that you’re suffering in your relationship IS physical abuse. If your spouse has pulled your hair, even if you never went to the hospital, even if you were never bruised and bleeding, that is still abuse. You should not tolerate this!

Second, even if your spouse never physically touched or harmed you in any physical way, but if they’ve just threatened to harm you, for example, if they’ve threatened to hit you, punch you, slap you, kick you, or pull your hair, those things can count also. Those threats are “cruelty.”

Abuse of a sexual nature including rape, but also including unwanted sexual touching of any kind, that is abuse.

Threats to harm someone who is important to you, e.g. threats to harm your children or your parents, that is cruelty!

Threats to get a person deported – that is cruelty.

Controlling where a person goes or controlling where what a person does, locking your spouse indoors, not allowing your spouse to leave an apply for a job, things like that, can also count as extreme cruelty.

Now not allowing you to communicate with others, for example canceling your phone or not allowing you to use a phone to call your family, that is cruelty.

Abusing you verbally, calling you names, insulting you etc., is cruelty.

All of these things can form the basis of an application for VAWA. And none of these things should be tolerated in a relationship! If you are in a toxic and abusive relationship, get the help you need and get the help you deserve! Get out of that relationship, and yes, you might also qualify for an immigration benefit through VAWA.

If you are in this situation, please feel free to contact our immigration lawyers at Landerholm Immigration, APC at (510) 491-0291. We would love to help you through the process!