Despite Abusing His Wife, Diplomatic Immunity Protected Him

By: Clarissa Arevalo, Domestic Violence Staff Attorney

 Annette and her children came to Washington D.C. when her husband – a member of the military of a country in central Africa – was posted to the embassy. Already a violent man, he became even more violent in the United States, but he was protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. Ayuda’s Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault team was able to help where the police could not. First, after a contentious trial, we secured a civil protective order (“restraining order”) for Annette and her children. Later, Ayuda handled Annette’s divorce and custody case.

The violence had escalated to the point where, on one occasion, Annette’s husband smashed her head into a heater and threw her across the room. Annette was certain he was going to kill her. Their daughter called the police, but they could do nothing because of his diplomatic status. Fortunately, the next time the police were called, an officer suggested that Annette talk to an organization like Ayuda about getting a protective order.

The trial was difficult, but Annette was brave, and her Ayuda attorney was fearless. And in the end, she won both the protective order and the eventual divorce! Asked how her life has changed, Annette said, “I have never been as happy and free as I am now. And my children are so happy because our home is safe and peaceful. I am so glad I met with the staff at Ayuda!”