Types of Abuse Considered in Maryland VAWA Applications

The legal requirement someone needs to prove to USCIS to qualify for VAWA is that they have suffered battery or extreme cruelty by their spouse, who is a US citizen or permanent resident.

There is no minimum period the abuse must have continued for to be eligible for approval under VAWA. If the abuse occurs for a longer period of time, it is easier to prove that it qualifies under extreme cruelty, but a one-time incident could meet the requirement. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, and any other treatment that constitutes extreme cruelty would satisfy the abuse requirement for a VAWA application. If you think that you qualify under the VAWA, you should consult with an experienced Maryland attorney who can help protect your rights.

Mental and Physical Abuse

When going through the process of the application, the personal statement is the most powerful component to establish abuse existed in the relationship. There can also be letters submitted from individuals who had personal knowledge of the relationship and can attest that abuse occurred. A letter from a therapist or psychologist attesting to their abused state following the abuse can be helpful as well.

Physical abuse is not required to submit a VAWA application. Someone can qualify for VAWA and meet the extreme cruelty prong if there has never been any physical contact that led to the abuse. Further,  they do not need to have reported the abuse to the police or be involved in a criminal proceeding against the abuser for the abuse to be eligible.

The types of supporting evidence and documentation that might be required for a VAWA application can vary. Each case is different so the variation will depend on what type of abuse it was and what type of resources that were sought during the abusive situation. If someone went to a domestic violence shelter, documentation that they sought help there would be beneficial for the application. If someone called the police, the police report would be essential in this case.

Help of a Therapist

Letters of support from a therapist or psychologist will generally help your case because it is corroborating evidence that you suffered mental, emotional, or psychological hardship. There are, however, situations where a letter from a therapist or psychologist is not sufficient, but in most cases, it will help to corroborate your declaration.

In addition to providing corroborating evidence for the abuse, the therapist can help draft the declaration, which is the personal statement. The therapist can also help the abused access those memories so they are able to better and more accurately craft their statement on their own.

The personal statement is the most important piece of evidence in every VAWA application. Even if there is a police report or medical evidence that shows you have been a recipient of physical abuse, there is always more that is unsaid since it is, almost always, not a one-time incident.

In many cases, the abused suffer severe psychological, emotional, and physical trauma. If they are talking about the abuse for the first time in an attorney’s office, it may not be the best environment to recall all of the details. A therapist or psychologist can help work with a client to get through that, and then an attorney can further help with the process of applying.