Domestic violence (DV) victims have a number of safety concerns. Even something as simple as accessing information on the internet can have repercussions if the victim isn’t careful.

Also, sometimes just leaving the abuser isn’t enough and you might need to get a restraining order to ensure your safety.

Safety Concerns For Victims


The internet is probably the best place to find information and get help for a DV victim. However, your internet activity can be monitored and it doesn’t require much expertise to do so. So if you share a computer with the abuser and are unsure about whether you are being monitored, you are probably better off accessing information on a computer the abuser does not have access to. Your other option is to call a hotline and speak to someone rather than browsing the internet for information.

Simply deleting your internet history is not enough protection. If your abuser is clever enough, deleted internet history can also be accessed. Email too can be intercepted or monitored if you do not take the necessary precautions so it is vital that you are very careful when using the internet. The Women’s Law website provides comprehensive information on internet security for DV victims. Read through it so you are aware of the steps you should take to ensure your abuser is not privy to your internet browsing information.


As a victim of DV, if you leave your abuser, many countries offer you the option of filing a restraining order so you can feel safe knowing your abuser is legally entitled to stay away from you. Breaching the order will result in him being arrested. A restraining order is also described as a protective order in some places.

While the exact provisions of the law may differ from place to place; in general, when you file for a restraining order, the court orders your abuser to stay away from you and this can even include banning them from making any contact with you.

For more information about Restraining Orders, click here.


One of the main concerns for a DV victim is often there is a child involved and they want to ensure the child’s safety should the victim leave the abuser. Leaving the abuser also raises the issue of child custody and who would be granted custody in the case of such a separation. This is a complicated situation and the best thing for you to do is to get in touch with an experienced lawyer who can help. If you are unable to access a lawyer, call your local DV hotline and they can guide you about what you should do.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund has a few articles you might like to read that concern children who have been exposed to domestic violence.

The Women’s Law website has some basic information on child custody and addresses some common concerns victims may have about the custody of their child.


Immigrant women are often frightened to leave their abusers as they fear they have no rights. However there is no need to stay in an abusive relationship to keep your visa or permanent resident status, the law is on your side. You can leave your abusive spouse and keep your legal status or continue with applications for permanent residency.


All women in violent relationships should develop a safety plan. For information on safety-planning, including a general list of items that a woman should consider taking with her if she decides to leave, please see the Safety Planning Tips provided by the National Domestic Violence Hotline. An immigrant victim may need to include in her safety plan additional documents beyond those that an American victim may typically think to take with her.

As noted above, a foreign bride who has been abused by a husband she met through an International Marriage Broker (IMB) may be eligible for certain federal immigration protections that enable her to escape abuse and secure legal status independent of her abuser. Depending on the circumstances, the victim may have to show that her abuser is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, demonstrate that her marriage was in ―good faith‖ (i.e., a real marriage, not entered into only to obtain legal status), and produce other types of evidence relating to their relationship, the abuse or other elements that will help prove that she is entitled to protection under federal immigration law.


Documents that an abused foreign bride should take with her (if possible and safe to do so):

  • Victim’s passport, birth certificate, driver’s license or other identification documents.
  • Marriage certificate, divorce certificate, children’s birth certificates.
  • Copy of abuser’s passport, green card, birth certificate, or other identification.
  • Wedding photos, children’s birth certificates, letters/cards/emails between the couple.
  • Evidence of injuries or abuse, including medical reports, photos of injuries, protective orders, testimony of witnesses, police reports, court documents, or other legal documents mentioning abuse.
  • Leases, bills, travel documentation, immigration paperwork, or other documents with the victim’s name and address to show proof of residence in the United States.
  • Utility bills, bank accounts, leases, tax returns, or other documents that show that the victim had some period of joint residence with the abuser.

The US-based National Domestic Violence Hotline addresses a number of concerns immigrant women have if they are victimized by an abuser.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund also provides up-to-date information about help for battered immigrant women.

For more country specific information, it is probably best to get in touch with a lawyer in your current country of residence. The Department of Immigration in that country will also be able to advise you about your rights in case of domestic violence.

If you or your family are victims of domestic violence seek help immediately. You need to do more than just sort out your immigration status. Get in touch with the police, a lawyer, a counselor or even women’s support groups.