Student groups shed light on domestic violence in the undocumented community

PAVE and Dreamers of UW-Madison meet to discuss domestic violence amidst national awareness month. 

PAVE and Dreamers of UW-Madison meet to discuss domestic violence amidst national awareness month. 

Image By: Jon Yoon and Jon Yoon

A group of 16 UW-Madison students gathered Monday night to discuss Domestic Violence within Undocumented Communities, an event sponsored by Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment and Dreamers of UW-Madison.

The event focused on the unique challenges undocumented communities face when confronting issues of domestic violence.

The discussion is part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, celebrated in October to recognize and combat domestic violence.

Domestic violence affects people of all genders, ages, sexual orientations, races, ethnicities, religions, social standings and immigration statuses, PAVE Evaluation Coordinator Delaney Heffner said.

“We are working to dismantle the specific narrative that a survivor is a certain race or certain class,” Heffner said.

Joined by Heffner to facilitate the event was Jazmin Vargas, president and co-founder of Dreamers of UW-Madison.

“[Domestic violence in the undocumented community] is important to address,” said Vargas. “It is an issue not specific to only one group.”

Heffner said domestic violence is not always spousal and it is not always physical — it can be between anyone under one roof, and can be emotional or financial.

Undocumented immigrants face higher domestic abuse rates than natural born citizens, but the exact numbers don’t exist, due in part to the barriers they face when seeking help or justice from domestic violence. These barriers include racism and discrimination, language barriers, blackmailing, immigration status as coercion and the fear of deportation.

Vargas said you can learn about the experiences of undocumented immigrants and give them resources as well as believe and respect them in order to help. 

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