Everyone has their own reason for immigrating. When former Ayuda client Selena* fled her home country in Central America after surviving domestic violence, her reason for coming to the United States was simple: Safety – for herself and her children.
Shortly after arriving in the U.S., Selena entered a romantic relationship with a man named Patrick*. But once he began to abuse her both emotionally and physically, Selena was done. She made the courageous decision to end the relationship.
Patrick, however, had other plans. He began stalking Selena, posting intimate photos of her online, and generally making her feel unsafe. Selena kept her composure and reported his crimes to law enforcement. With Ayuda’s assistance, in 2016 she began the process of applying for a U Visa, which allows victims of certain severe crimes and their family members to legally remain in the U.S.
Although the U Visa is one of the strongest legal protections available for immigrant survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence, it comes with built-in roadblocks. For one thing, U Visas are only granted if the survivor complies with “reasonable requests” from law enforcement. In Selena’s case, she was called on to testify at her abuser’s trial. Despite the intense, combative questions that Patrick’s counsel threw Selena’s way, she ultimately prevailed. Her abuser has been convicted.
But the best part: Selena has been granted her U Visa after a long six years of waiting and can safely continue her path to recovery. Today, Selena is happily living with her two children after getting remarried last year.
*Names and photo have been changed and some details omitted to protect our client’s privacy.