Safe House
October 5, 2018 12:38 PM   Subscribe

A group of Latina women across the country have been working in secret, turning their homes into shelters for abused immigrant women. (tw: domestic violence)

Valentina isn’t a social worker or a therapist or a lawyer. She is an immigrant who opens her home to women whose husbands or boyfriends abuse them. The women who come are waitresses, saleswomen, fruit and vegetable pickers, housecleaners. Like Silvia, many are ashamed, reluctant to point a finger or to file for divorce.

Most are undocumented, and before President Trump’s election, they went to Valentina when they didn’t know their rights or when shelters didn’t have space. Since Trump, even those with papers avoid shelters and mistrust the law. Silvia had stayed at Valentina’s house for a week, and now Valentina has taken to checking on her. She’s hoping Silvia will leave her partner, but she can’t predict if she will or how long it might take.

posted by poffin boffin (4 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
The situation that so many women are facing is so upsetting. I have so much love and so much fear for these women, both the protectors and those in need of protection.
posted by limeonaire at 3:06 PM on October 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't know if there's a way to donate to these safe houses given their very real privacy concerns, but Líderes Campesinas is a big component of this story. There's a Paypal donation link on their Support page.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:15 PM on October 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

These paragraphs are just devastating, by the way:
The election of Donald Trump sent more women underground. ... Within months of Trump’s inauguration, Los Angeles police had found that sexual assault reports among Latinos had fallen by a quarter. Half a year in, domestic violence reports had dropped 13 percent in San Diego and 18 percent in San Francisco. More than a dozen major rape crisis centers across California estimated that their Latina clientele had shrunk anywhere from 10 percent to 80 percent. For many women applying for a U visa, the police or a crisis center would be the first stop; if they didn’t help law enforcement, they wouldn’t qualify.

Even women who sought U visas were at risk. In 2014, the government was granting the visas to people who had filed five months earlier. By 2018, there was a significant backlog. Women whom Valentina helped file would likely wait nine years for a decision, and they could be removed from the country in the meantime. More than 117,000 victims had pending applications, and the visas are capped at 10,000 a year. The number of adjudicators has also dropped from 93 in 2014 to 60 at last count. This summer, Valentina watched on TV as the administration announced a new policy that anyone without legal status whose U visa is denied will be placed in removal proceedings. One mistake, and they’re deported, she thought to herself. They see the government rejecting them. They hear Trump talking about “illegal people.” They are now living in anonymous ways.
posted by limeonaire at 3:17 PM on October 5, 2018 [12 favorites]

I see these issues in my work in Chicago, and it's heartbreaking to hear over and over how much more fear there is about above ground services. I definitely see more concerns now than before the administration change for those who are disclosing DV.

The one underground shelter I knew of was closed by the city, though it was far more generalized than DV help. It specifically worked with males in revocery from alcohol addiction, many had additional health problems and disabilities. It was loosely affiliated with a local church. I heard a rumor it was moved, but no direct confirmation because I find out about these things sort of haphazardly. But, for some people looking for a place to go, they helped respectfully and the people I met who used the shelter seemed greatful.

If someone knows how to connect me so I can make some referrals as need be, it's actually something I could discreetly pass along. Most of the names were changed , but I'm going to see if there's a way to contact Mily Treviño-Sauceda, especially because Illinois was listed in the article.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:23 AM on October 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

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