Attorneys discuss helping women facing abuse
WMUK’s Gordon Evans reported on the One-Billion rising event to raise awareness about violence against women. He also spoke with Susan Reed, supervising attorney for the Michigan Immigrants’ Rights Center and Megan Reynolds, managing attorney of the Battle Creek office of Legal Services of South Central Michigan.
Reed says her office sees immigrant women from all walks of life from all over the state. That includes women who are immigrants and are victims of violence and concerned about their legal status. Reynolds’ office represents domestic violence survivors who are ready to leave that relationship. She says they have to find housing, income and often fight for the custody of their children.
Reed says her office can do a lot for domestic violence survivors even if their legal status in the country is in question. She says the law provides protections for women. But Reed says the level of fear is very high. She says many women are worried about being deported or never seeing their children again.
Reynolds says the most dangerous time for a woman is when she tries to leave an abusive relationship. She says official reports are likely to under-represent the actual number of cases of violence against women. Reynolds says women are not likely to report domestic violence themselves, it’s often a third-party that makes the first call.
Both Reed and Reynolds say that abusers will go to great lengths to exercise control. A woman will not have time alone, her phone calls will be monitored and her use of the Internet will be watched. While men are not immune from violence, women are more likely to be the victims of domestic assault or trapped in an abusive relationship.
Both Reed and Reynolds say there appears to be cultural progress on the issue of violence against women. But they say it is still prevalent, and victims of violence need help when that happens.