VAWA Self-Petition- What Happens to Your Abuser?

VAWA has truly been immense in helping combat domestic abuse. It does so by helping foreign abuse victims escape the grip of their abusers via the VAWA self-petition. This act also helps guarantee that petitioners do not have to remain in abusive relationships for fear of deportation or removal by offering them a residency permit and a pathway to naturalization. 

This has proven to be a valuable incentive to encourage victims to leave their abusers. However, one concern that is often left lingering is understanding what happens to the abusers after a petition is filed. Luckily, this article will address that concern by explaining in detail, the effects of VAWA self-petition on your abuser. 

Understanding How VAWA Self-Petition Affects Abusers 

First of all, it is important to note that VAWA prioritizes victim safety above all else. Hence, abusers are not notified when a VAWA self-petition is filed against them. This is a move to ensure victims do not suffer more at the hands of their abusers who may become angry at the decision to petition against them. Also, it helps prevent such persons from jeopardizing the VAWA self-petition investigation process. 

That doesn’t in any way signify that abusers are allowed to go scot-free without being held accountable for their actions. After all, the goal is to address the issue of domestic abuse once and for all. However, it is not entirely the place of VAWA to hold abusers to a ransom or issue punishment for their actions. Again, this does not mean that abusers will not be brought to justice if need be. It just entails that VAWA is most concerned with ensuring the safety of abuse victims, as is in line with their objectives. 

VAWA Objectives 

VAWA, which stands for the Violence Against Women Act, is pledged to help domestic violence and abuse victims secure safety away from their abusers. It encompasses a broader range of provisions to ensure the comfort of victims, and it applies to spouses (male or female), parents, and children of abusive US citizens. That said, here are some of the main objectives of VAWA, and what it stands for. 

  • VAWA Support Services: VAWA helps ensure that victims of domestic violence and other forms of abuse are guaranteed a safe and comfortable life away from the abusive relationship. This includes the provision of legal aid, counseling, shelter, and permanent residency. It also makes sure that such individuals are granted access to basic rights such as work and travel permits. 
  • VAWA Victim Protection: Again, the main goal of VAWA is to ensure that victims of domestic abuse get adequate protection from their oppressors. However since VAWA may not be directly tasked with issuing penalties to abusers, it helps provide the resources to the concerned law enforcement services. It provides the means necessary to investigate these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. 
  • VAWA Public Awareness: VAWA does not only respond to domestic abuse cases but aims to prevent them altogether. One way it goes about this is by educating the general public and bringing awareness to the issue. These services help emphasize the negative effects of abuse on individuals and society at large. 

Consequences of VAWA Legal Actions for Abusers 

VAWA ensures a list of legal actions against abusers to help sever the circle of abuse and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. However, it first ensures the safety of victims before pursuing any punishment for offenders to prevent them from suffering any more oppression. Here are some of the legal repercussions and consequences your abuser may face after your VAWA self-petition. 

  • Criminal Punishments: One of the primary ways VAWA holds abusers accountable for their crimes is by issuing criminal penalties to them. Of course, the degree of the punishment is decided by the severity of their offense and their previous criminal history. Typically, abusers are reprimanded with penalties such as fines and probation, while they are also subjected to compulsory counseling. 
  • Imprisonment and Sentencing: For advanced cases of abuse, especially those that are life-threatening, you can expect the abuser to face steeper penalties. In such cases, imprisonment or enhanced sentencing may be guaranteed. This punishment can also ho for repeat offenders who have shown no signs of repentance. 

Another consequence that abusers may have to face after a VAWA self-petition is societal stigma. It usually often comes to the forefront when such persons are trying to get employed. Of course, nobody wants to hire an abuser into their organization, and since it reflects on their record, it becomes an added consequence for them. 

Legal Rights Against Abusers 

Of course, VAWA often takes over the fight for justice for VAWA victims by ensuring the matter is followed up by the concerned law enforcement agencies. However, victims may still retain the right to pursue several civil and criminal actions against their abusers. Most times, these claims fall under battery, aggravated assault, sexual assault, or attempted homicide, depending on the form of abuse suffered by the victim. 

Also, penalties are issued accordingly, if the accusations are found to be true and the evidence issued matches the results of the investigation. However, one common solution that applies regardless of other extra punishments is a restraining order. This means that the abuser will be restricted from coming within a specified distance to the victim for their protection. If the abusers violate these orders, then they risk suffering enhanced consequences such as criminal charges. 

The Coleman Law Group Can Help You 

Whether you are just starting your VAWA self-petition or pursuing legal rights against your abuser as an immigrant, you’ll most certainly want a VAWA lawyer to assist you. This is because the VAWA self-petition and immigration laws can be too complex to navigate by yourself. That said, the Coleman Law Group is always on hand to help ensure the success of your VAWA self-petition. You can count on our experienced lawyers to get your application across the line without the regular hassle that comes with the immigration process. 


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