Spousal abuse in immigration cases – Psychological evaluation

spousal abuse spousal abuse Spousal abuse in immigration cases – Psychological evaluation 146420313 0 final 300x300In this blog post we will discuss the legal background of spousal abuse petition in immigration cases, types of abuse and challenges in Psychological evaluation.

In 1994 President Clinton signed The Violence against Women Act. (VAWA).

VAWA has  provisions to allow noncitizen victims of domestic violence to receive immigration relief independent of their spouse or parent through “self-petitioning”

There are two types of Petitions used in spousal abuse cases:

  • I-360 is for a self-petitioning abused spouse
  • I-751 caters person who two-year green card through marriage but now the spouse is applying to remove the conditions on her temporary Green card

The Act covers the following spousal abuse:

  1. A physical, sexual, or emotional abuse incident
  2. Followed by a reconciliation period in which abused may be apologized and promised not to do again
  3. The “calm” period in which abused hope that such an incident is over.
  4. Any incident can trigger “tension” that creates anger and the victim feels insecure
  5. The tension leads to another abuse incident and this cycle continues until the victim get escape from domestic violence.
  6. Sometimes there exists no cycle of abuse. The victim may be abused without any known reason. The motive could be a discriminative, impulsive, racist, eccentric, psychopath. It is also a fact that the absence of violent patterns may cause great psychological harm.


Immigrant women make up a higher percentage of those who suffer spousal abuses. The possibility of them escaping such an abusive environment can become slim. So they end up in such relationships due to lack of support, language differences, alienations, financial dependency, and the law. Often, the abuser will resort to using the victim’s immigration status to blackmail her, leaving her with no choice but to remain in the abusive relationship. Immigrant women are more exposed to this compared to their counterpart U.S. citizens because they are not aware of existing social and legal services.

Spousal abuses are of various forms:

Verbal abuse: This type of spousal abuse is the most common, and others tend to generate from this one. A spouse uses insulting, criticizing, blaming, threatening, undermining, and unfair terms for the abused individual. Utilizing racial, social, or religious slur is equally a kind of verbal abuse. Verbal abuse comprises the use of any derogatory or harmful words, threatening, undermining, trivializing, blaming, or accusing words to make others feel bad, particularly family members, or cause self-esteem harm.

Physical abuse: This could come in a direct or indirect form. It has to do with an individual becoming abused by their spouse through hitting, slapping, hair pulling, scratching, as well as the use of harmful, heavy objects to cause pain. That is equally a criminal offence. Indirect is when an inconsiderate spouse switches of their A.C. or heating system to inconvenience the other person.

Psychological abuse: The coercive nature of this type of abuse puts the abused individual in a helpless state, even without any verbal or physical abuse. In this case a spouse is often confronted about where, what, how, when, and why they did what they did.  Other violations have to do with infringing on the spouse’s right to use the internet and embarking on actions that will further depress the abused. Emotional abuse and psychological abuse are quite similar on various levels. Psychological abuse deprives the abused of the freedom to use their mail, freedom to socialize, and liberty to call. It also has to do with isolation and stealing of documents to sabotage victim’s immigration case.

Sexual abuse: This has to do with sexual aggression and extremism to the disadvantage of the abused. It comprises unwanted connections, unethical touches, and anything that can be considered harmful while sexually meeting with the spouse. Sometimes a spouse can force the abused to engage in fellatio, cunnilingus because they are intoxicated. Anal sex can result in pain and bleeding.

Religious abuse: This type of spousal abuse uses the excuse of spiritual inferiority to maltreat the abused. In this type of abuse, the abused person suffers from false adherence and verbal denigration.

Abuser’s profile should be captured to track any possible personality disorder, psychopathic patterns, which include child behaviour, impulse control disorder paranoia, parasite lifestyles, or reckless actions. The abuser can have a history of drug abuse. The abuser might not be using drugs when the spouse is around or at home. Still, symptoms such as dizziness, slurred speech, nystagmus, lethargy, unsteady gait, depressed reflexes, tremors, psychomotor retardation, muscle weakness, or tremors will be noticeable. Other symptoms include blurred vision, stupor, diplopia, signs of withdrawal, insomnia, high-pulse rate, transient psychosis, anxiety, psychomotor agitation, or seizures. The bullying should be equally noted.

Victim’s mental health should be considered as well. The victim may be a stressor, dealing with symptoms of intrusion, negative alterations in mood and alterations in reactivity and arousal.

The victim may suffer from depression, low energy, helplessness, agitation, low self-esteem, fatigue, suicidality, humiliation, shame, or self-blame.

The abused will be vulnerable to panic attacks, which include heart palpitation, short breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, choking feeling. The symptoms are untraceable to any form of physical abuse. Plus, they aren’t caused by mental abuse or substance abuse

Mental health victims ought to be taken to mental health facilities for treatment, with complete access to resources like support groups, psychotherapy, psychiatric care, religious/spiritual support, friends, and family help.

It’s relevant that professionals alone are allowed to evaluate a case of spousal abuse.