What Trump’s Immigration Policies Mean For Domestic Violence Victims

Leila A. McNeill
The Establishment
Published in
7 min readFeb 22, 2017


Wikimedia Commons

Fear of deportation often causes abuse victims to remain silent.

UUntil recently, I worked at The Family Place, a domestic violence agency in Dallas, where I’d been for a little over two years. There, I served as a violence prevention educator, spending the majority of the week in elementary schools, high schools, and colleges teaching the root causes of gender-based violence, like harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence. I often encountered students in crisis or students who had experienced trauma at home, either as a victim of or a witness to violence. I can still remember each student who told me their story — each act of abuse they detailed to me.

But lately, I’ve been reflecting on one girl in particular.

Less than a month into the job, I met a teen girl who had been physically and sexually abused by her ex-boyfriend for over a year. I urged her to report the abuse, but she refused. She explained to me that her parents were undocumented and that she was a DREAMer; any unwanted attention from law enforcement put her and her family at risk for deportation. This was also a reality her abuser continued to remind her of. I then urged her to seek counseling, but she again refused, worried that her parents would learn about the…