Therapist’s Role in MD VAWA Applications

Generally, if an individual has been through a situation of abuse, talking to a therapist or psychologist will definitely help. In the majority of these cases our firm has handled, their initial meeting with their attorney is the first time or one of the first times that the victim has really sat down and spoke about the abuse.

A Maryland VAWA immigration attorney understands the number of ways psychologists or therapists or psychiatrists can help in these cases, and it’s not just by providing additional documentary evidence.

Moving Past the Abuse

Often, the lawyers will send people to a therapist not just to document their abuse for the VAWA application, but also to get them help to move them forward from an abusive situation and to deal with the trauma that they have been through.

If an individual has been in an abusive situation, speaking to a therapist will always help because it will help them in their personal life, not only in the VAWA application.

It can also help because a lot of times when we’re preparing these applications, it’s really requiring the applicant to re-live the abuse and that can be really traumatic.

So sometimes, it’s just helpful to have  the therapist there in a supporting role who can help them deal with the kind of emotions and psychological issues that come with talking about this type of situation.

Professional Letter

Generally, if a person can provide a letter from a licensed professional who can attest to the harm and the psychological damage that has been inflicted on them by this abuse, it will definitely help their case. However, it is important to note that it is not always enough.

Simply getting a letter from a therapist does not mean that the applicant is going to prove substantial harm. It will definitely help and is generally advisable but it is not a guarantee that your case will be approved, certainly not.

Drafting the Declaration

Working with a therapist or psychologist in many cases can be helpful for the client even with helping them draft their declaration. Often, if it is the person’s first time they are talking about all of the abuse and it is just too much to fully process.

A lot of times people struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and it’s difficult for them to recall details of the situations and exchanges. However, specific details are really important when submitting these applications because so much is riding on their personal statement.

A lot of times, a therapist can help the lawyer and the applicant to craft the statement and to remember those details and to put it down on paper and nail down a timeline as well as to come to terms with what happened and move past it. So in those cases meeting with a therapist can really help the case. In cases where there is not a lot of hard evidence, the VAWA application will rely on the declarant’s statement of abuse.

The declaration needs to be very well-crafted and followed generally like a chronological timeframe of the abuse. The basic start of the declaration would start with how the applicant met the abuser, when the abuse began, and so on. The declaration needs to touch on all aspects of the abuse – physical, emotional, psychological, sexual. Sometimes even financial control that abusers assert over victims can qualify.

Supporting Evidence

The types of supporting evidence and documentation that will be required for a VAWA application will completely vary depending on the type of case. In many cases, the evidence will speak for itself and the statement from the victim is just icing on the cake, in order to provide the context and details and background of the abuse.

In most cases, even if there is a police report or a medical report, those are not the only times that the abuse happened. It is generally a pattern of abuse and it is almost always more abuse than what those documents will show. So even in cases where strong supporting evidence exists, proving suffering of the applicant by telling the whole story and personal account of the abuse is necessary.