To petition successfully for a Green Card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), it’s important to make sure that you clearly demonstrate you suffered from “battery or extreme cruelty” from a U.S. Citizen spouse, parent or child, or a Lawful Permanent spouse or parent. You must obtain and present compelling evidence of the abuse you faced. Read on to learn about the key components of demonstrating battery or extreme cruelty for a VAWA petition.

Basics of the VAWA Petition

VAWA was signed into law in 1994 to help protect victims of domestic abuse. It includes a provision to allow people, without immigration status, to self-petition for Lawful Permanent Residence and obtain a Green Card, if they have suffered abuse at the hands of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent family member. The provision extends to parental, spousal, and child abuse, and includes protections for victims of both physical and emotional abuse. If applicants can demonstrate proof of “battery or extreme cruelty”, and meet all the other requirements, they will have a strong VAWA petition and be one step closer to getting a Green Card!

What does “Battery or Extreme Cruelty” mean?

Both battery and extreme cruelty are grounds for protection under VAWA so that victims of all different types of domestic abuse are protected. “Battery” refers to physical forms of abuse, while “extreme cruelty” refers to verbal and emotional abuse.  Physical abuse includes shoving, being hit, sexual assault, and other forms of physically inflicting pain on a body. Verbal abuse includes threats, taunting, demeaning language, explicit language, cursing, and other words that have a negative effect on your mental state. Emotional abuse includes deliberate attempts to make you feel a certain way to do something you do not want to do, to create negative views of yourself; and it includes dishonesty and manipulation. Sometimes the forms of abuse can overlap, and it may not be clear to you that something is a form of abuse as an isolated event. However, if something causes you to feel harmed, threatened, in danger, or violated in a physical or emotional way, there is a strong chance that it is a result of abuse.

How do I demonstrate “Battery or Extreme Cruelty”?

Regardless of what type of abuse you faced, you will need to submit a Declaration with your application, which is a statement that details the relationship and the abuse. This is your opportunity to tell your story in full. If you are a victim of battery, you can prove it with photos, doctor’s letter or hospital records, police reports, and any other similar form of documentation of physical abuse. 

Extreme cruelty can be slightly more difficult to prove, as it does not have the physical component that battery does. However, there are still some crucial forms of evidence that can successfully prove your case. A psychological evaluation discussing the abuse you faced, any trauma you are undergoing, or any clinical diagnosis tied to the abuse you faced or are facing, will be extremely helpful to your petition. This is especially necessary for demonstrating emotional abuse. Additionally, other evidence includes text or Facebook messages showing abuse, manipulation, or humiliation by your family member; financial records showing abusive control of personal finances; affidavits from friends and family who can speak to abusive behavior; and any other evidence you can gather demonstrating emotional, psychological, or verbal abuse.

Why does it matter so much to establish “Battery or Extreme Cruelty”?

Proving that you have suffered from battery or extreme cruelty is a key component of the VAWA petition, and this requirement must be met. The evidence of abuse you provide is the most important way you can demonstrate that everything you wrote in your affidavit is truthful and corroborates your story. It is a critical part of tying your story together and highlighting how and why you qualify for a Green Card under VAWA.

If you are interested in learning more about VAWA and how to assemble the necessary evidence for your case, please contact us and we will help you put together a strong VAWA petition and help you obtain a Green Card.

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