About Mil Mujeres
Sixteen years without her daughters has turned her life upside down
Ms. Adela Cuevas is a survivor of domestic violence. She endured years of physical, verbal, mental, economical, and sexual abuse at the hands of her ex-partner. Fortunately, Ms. Cuevas was able to stop the cycle of silence and stop her abuse when she notified the authorities on December 27, 2012, and cooperated with the investigation, to the best of her ability. Ms. Cuevas was determined to protect her children and herself from her abuser, so she went on to obtain an order of protection. Ms. Cuevas also found herself forced to move to a shelter for battered women for her safety and the safety of her children. At the shelter, Ms. Cuevas received professional help from counselors who assisted her to overcome her depression, which was a result of living in constant abuse, fear, and stress. Today, Ms. Cuevas is a proud survivor, a stronger woman and happy mother.
Last year, Ms. Cuevas filed an application for U nonimmigrant status, and on August 18, 2014 it was determined that the evidence submitted with her petition appears to demonstrate that she has established the eligibility requirements for U nonimmigrant status. However, the statutory cap for U nonimmigrant status has been reached for the fiscal year of 2013-2014. Meanwhile, Ms. Cuevas has received a notice of deferred action, which made her eligible for employment authorization. This document was granted to her on January 13, 2015. Unfortunately, Ms. Cuevas’s two derivative daughters (sixteen and eighteen years old,) currently living in Mexico with their oldest sister, did not share the same benefits. Instead, they have to continue to wait in Mexico, apart from their mother, until U nonimmigrant status is available to them. This situation is tormenting to Ms. Cuevas as she has not seen her daughters for fifteen years, since she moved to the United States.
Ms. Cuevas was faced with the difficult decision of leaving her daughters in Mexico in order to better provide for them. Ms. Cuevas made this important decision after she was abandoned by the father of her children and she struggled to make ends meet. She tried her best to provide for her daughters, but it was very difficult for her. Ms. Cuevas comes from a modest background and received only an elementary school education, which often prevented her from obtaining a stable job or sustainable income. There were days that she did not have enough money to buy food for her children. Ms. Cuevas moved to the United States in hopes of finding better employment opportunities, so that she could provide a better life for her daughters.
Unfortunately, she was not able to bring her daughter’s with her because of her limited funds, also, because she did not want to expose them to any excessive dangers that present themselves when making the journey, undocumented, to the North American country. These dangers go from kidnappings to rapes and even possibly death. While she was willing to risk her life for the betterment of her daughters, she decided that her three daughters stay behind at the care of Ms. Cuevas’s mother.
Recently, Ms. Cuevas’s mother passed away, and now her two youngest daughters are cared for by Ms. Cuevas’s oldest daughter, who is currently twenty-three years old. Ms. Cuevas feels a big hole in her heart by this situation and wishes nothing more than to be reunited with her daughters and care for them in person. It makes her sad not to be by her daughters side, especially when they tell her how difficult it has been for them after their grandmother’s passing. Her daughters have expressed to Ms. Cuevas that they often feel sad, lonely and depressed. They also yearn for the day that they can be reunited with their mother and siblings.
Ms. Cuevas believes that if her daughters are allowed to come to the United States she will be able to better support them, both financially and emotionally. Now that she has work authorization, she wants to provide them with a better quality of life, a life that they deserve. For these reasons, Ms. Cuevas seeks the opportunity to bring her daughters to the United States through a humanitarian visa or through advanced parole procedures.
Sara Wins her U-Visa Case
December 06, 2013
My name is Sara. I am 55 years old and originally from Guatemala. I have been in the United States since 1989. I have four children born in Guatemala who currently reside with me. I am a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of my ex-husband. With the assistance of Mil Mujeres, I won my U-Visa case and now have legal immigration status and work authorization.
During the span of a seven year relationship I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by my ex- partner. I met my ex-husband in the mid 80’s. We had a child and in order to provide more for our family, he left to the U.S., leaving me in Guatemala to take care of our son. A year later he returned to Guatemala, and I was pregnant again. Our second child was born with complications and in need of delicate surgery. We decided to move to California so that my son could get treated here. After his two surgeries, I spent my time caring for him. After a few months my partner was becoming violent. He would drink and call me names and put me down. I remained with him because I had no job since I took care of my son and did not know anyone. I called 911 a couple of times, only once ending in an arrest where I served as a witness. After some time, he returned to our house and promised to be different. I gave him another opportunity and then we decided to get married. Yet, he became violent once again. He continuously wanted to demonstrate who was in charge in our house. One night, he was drunk and began to argue with me. The argument escalated until he pushed me onto some furniture, slapped my face with an open palm, and took the phone away from me. After, I made a point to call the police. He was then charged with Spousal Battery.
After years of abuse, I finally decided to leave for my sake and of my children. After the charges filed against him, I went to Mil Mujeres about my immigration status. With their help I was able to obtain my U-Visa. I currently live with my children away from danger and without the fear of deportation. Thanks to Mil Mujeres, I am free to live my life free from my abuser and looking to a better future for my children and me.
Isabella Wins her U-visa Case
November 11, 2013
My name is *Isabella I am 35 years old and was born in Guatemala. I have been living in the United States since 1980. I may have a degenerative disease called retinitis pigmentosa, as well as developmental issues since birth. Due to my ailments and disabilities, I have never been able to hold a job and my family takes care of all my needs. I have been victim of sexual assault. I am a survivor of rape when a man who was in my home to install a ceiling fan took advantage of me. With the assistance of Mil Mujeres, I won my U-Visa case and now have legal immigration status and work authorization.
On November 08, 2011, two men came into my house to install a ceiling fan. One of the men was a friend of mine and the other man *Y, I did not know. My friend left to get some supplies that he had forgotten, leaving me alone with *Y. I offered him a cup of coffee when he climbed down the ladder and grabbed my waist. He began to grab and kiss me even after I pulled away and told him, “No! No!”, leaving bruises and marks. Pushing him away seemed to anger him. He pushed me against the wall then threw me down on the kitchen floor. He pulled down my shorts and forcibly took off my underwear as he took off his pants. He laid on top of me and proceeded to rape me on the kitchen floor. Even when I tried to fight him off, he held me down with his weight. Then my nineteen year old nephew, walked in and ran to call 9-1-1 to get help. Before my nephew came back, both men had left. After the incident I was so ashamed that I did not talk about it. When the police arrived I denied anything happened.When I calmed down, I finally decided to report the incident. I spoke with the detectives and gave them permission to examine the clothes I had worn that day. I also provided details about the rape and the perpetrator.
After reporting the crime, I visited Mil Mujeres concerned about my immigration status. With their help, I was able to obtain my U-Visa. I have been attending therapy to work through the trauma of the rape and to recover from the pain resulting from the incident. I have difficulty sleeping and still have a lot of pain but am working through it. I have also enrolled in adult school to read and write in Braille and English. I am trying to make the most out of the opportunities available for me in the United States. I no longer live in fear of deportation or separation from my family who help me in everything I do. Thanks to Mil Mujeres I am stronger and feel more capable of living my life and looking towards a better future.
Valeria Wins her U-visa Case
October 16, 2013
My name is Valeria. I am forty years old and originally from Nicaragua. I have been in the United States since 2001. I have three children who reside with me in the United States. I am an indirect victim of sexual assault. My youngest daughter is a survivor of sexual assault at the hands of her kindergarten teacher in her elementary school. With the assistance of Mil Mujeres, I won my U-Visa case and have legal immigration status and work authorization.
My daughter Camila, was five years old and a student in kindergarten at her previous elementary school when she began to complain about irritation and a burning sensation when she used the restroom. On occasions she cried and complained, “it burns, it hurts me.” That’s when I noticed that on the weekend, when she did not attend school she had no swelling or rash on her private parts. A few days after, during her bath she began to complain of the pain and burning sensation again. When I asked her what happened, she began crying and told me that her teacher touched her. She then demonstrated how he had touched her by rubbing her private part. She told me that is how he punished her. Once I realized the seriousness of the situation, I called the school and spoke to the principal who asked me to come to his office with my daughter. When the principal asked her what happened, she repeated what she had told me at home and demonstrated how she had been touched. I expressly requested that the school notify the police.
Law enforcement interviewed my daughter and I. Wherein I proceeded to take her to a specialized hospital as my daughter’s teacher was taken into custody for allegedly committing, “lewd acts upon a child under 14 years old.” I transferred my daughter to another school because she could not return to her previous elementary school without crying. She suffered physical, mental, and emotional distress. As an indirect consequence of the sexual assault Elena had been a victim of, I suffered substantial abuse too. My children and I have been attending counseling and therapy as well. With the help from Mil Mujeres, I won my U-Visa case. I no longer live in fear of deportation or of being separated from my children. Thanks to Mil Mujeres, I am happy that I can remain with my children and help them in their future with the many opportunities they are offered in this country.
Sofia Wins her U-visa Case
October 2, 2013
My name is Sofia*. I am in my forties and was born in Central America. I have been living in the United states since the 2000s. I am a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of X*, my former intimate partner, who abused me physically and psychologically. Mr. X was very affectionate at the beginning of our relationship, but when I started getting along on my own and working, because I needed to send money to my parents and kids in Honduras, he started to change. Mr. XXX started drinking and using drugs. Every day he followed me whenever I left the house. He was tracking my every move, and I was scared because I was ignorant of the laws in the United States, and he always made me feel like I couldn’t make it without him.
He would tell me I was useless and used other offensive language to lower my self esteem. I had no one to turn to except one friend who always told me to leave him. I didn’t have a support system.
Mr. X was very aggressive. Once, I returned back to the apartment to pick up some clothes, thinking he was not home, but he was there, drunk. He started telling me there were ghosts in the apartment and that I wasn’t going to leave him there alone. I asked Mr. X to let me leave, but he said he would not. He then grabbed a knife and said he was going to cut out all my bad parts. He came towards me with the knife. I pushed him away, and ran to the bathroom.
I cried for help from the bathroom, and dialed 9-1-1. Mr. X screamed at me to come out, and when he heard me on the phone with the police, he said that he would make me pay. He managed to get into the bathroom, and took my cell phone and smashed it to pieces. I managed to escape the apartment and fortunately the police arrived minutes later. With the help of Mil Mujeres I won my U-visa case and feel safe now with legal status, permission to work in the United States, and I have the opportunity to bring my children here from my Country and give them a better future.
Natalia Wins her U-Visa Case
October 1, 2013
My name is Natalia. I am 47 years old and originally from Guatemala. I have been in the United States since 1986. I have a child that lives in Guatemala, and my other three children are U.S. born citizens. I am a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of my partner who physically, verbally, and emotionally abused me throughout our relationship. With the assistance of Mil Mujeres, I was able to win my U-Visa case and now have legal immigration status and work authorization in the United States.
I fled to the U.S. to escape a violent relationship I had in Guatemala, with the father of my first child. I met *Mr. A at a dinner during 2001. We dated for six months and then after a year we became official and he wanted to start a family. In 2002, I got pregnant and he began to change. He found out that I had a son with a previous man and he began to drink and become more aggressive. In 2003, our daughter was born and did not help me or attempt to assist me. He did not even care for our daughter once she was born. On one occasion, he kicked me so hard that I almost urinated from the pain. He also locked me out on several occasions. In 2005, I began with the domestic violence police reports and they lasted until 2007. He would later come back and ask for forgiveness and would refuse to eat until we got back together. In 2007, I obtained a Restraining Order against him and he was arrested for domestic battery. During this time, he attacked me twice. The latest incident was when he entered the house through the bathroom window, snuck into my bedroom, and stuck me in the face with his fist, multiple times.
I was done with the relationship and finally filed a report against him. I contacted Mil Mujeres concerned about my immigration status. With their help I was granted my U-Visa. My children and I currently attend therapy sessions who were also affected by the violence they witnessed. I no longer live in fear of deportation or being separated from my children. Thanks to Mil Mujeres, I am free to live my life free from my abuser and look forward to a better future for me and my children.
El Salvadoran Woman Wins U-Visa Case
July 29, 2013
My name is Paula*. I am in my twenties and was born in El Salvador. I have been living in the United States since 2008. I am the survivor of sexual assault. One day in 2011, I left to go to work in the afternoon. I got lost and was walking in an alley when I was approached by two men and one woman. They forced me into their van and cut my shirt and bra off with a knife. They were laughing and the took my clothes off. I told them to stop and that I had AIDS. The men just put condoms on and raped me. I felt so numb and disoriented. They dropped me off around where they had picked me up.
I was shaking and then they took my shoes off and with the blade of a can cut the bottom of my feet and said: “Stay there! don’t call police!” I told the police what happened and they are searching for the men and woman who raped me. It was a nightmare. I am dealing with sadness, nightmares, and flashbacks. With the help of Mil Mujeres, I won my U-visa case in July of 2013. I still have a lot of healing to do, but it really helps to know that I can be safe here with legal status and permission to work in the United States.
Honduran Woman Wins T-Visa Case
April 10, 2013
My name is Sara*. I am thirty two years old and I was born in Honduras. I came to the United States trying to escape from an abusive husband who raped me and physical abused me throughout the entire relationship. My first goal when I came to the United States was to find a job so I could send money to my family in Honduras. I stayed in Texas at first, but I decided to leave for New York to look for better opportunities. I left Texas in October of 2008. I saw ads about a van service that would transport you to different states for cheap. I got into a van that would drop everyone off in Silver Spring, MD and then switched to a van going to New York. While in the van, I started talking to the driver and owner of the van about my plans to go to New York. She told me that if I came back to Maryland to work for her that she would give me a stable job as a waitress at $300/week, with free room and board and extra money from tips. I thought hard about my situation. I did not know anyone in New York, and so I accepted the offer and went to Maryland to live with her. That was a big mistake. I was put in a cold storage room with no bed or furniture, not even a blanket, and I was forced to sleep on the floor. I was watched all the time by the woman and her relatives. I was never alone unless I was in the cold storage room. I was forced to work in the restaurant and the woman never paid me. She took my identity documents and told me that if I ran away she would harm my family in Honduras. She forced me to dance provocatively to the restaurant patrons and collect money from these patrons.
She told me that I had to let them touch me, and several of them touched and groped my breasts.
I felt that I was being exploited and used sexually but I had no way of stopping it. The woman had total control over me for many reasons. I finally managed to escape in December of 2008. I told the police what happened and they began to investigate the woman who trafficked me. She was eventually charged and found guilty for what she did. With the help of Mil Mujeres, I won my T-visa case in April of 2013 and feel safe now with legal status, permission to work in the United States, and the opportunity to bring my children here from Honduras.
Guatemalan Woman Wins Asylum Case
April 5, 2013
My name is Alejandra*. I am in my fifties and I was born in Guatemala. I fled to the United States in 2009, because I feared that my ex-husband would kill me. My ex-husband works as a bodyguard for a drug trafficking organization in Guatemala. He had a very traditional view of marriage; he thought that men owned and controlled women. One month after we started living together, he raped me. Sometimes I would resist, and he would get angry and hit me with a gun. One time, I refused to have sex with him and he went to find my 9 year old daughter and raped her. When I discovered what happened, I confronted my ex-husband and told him to leave our home. He did not listen to me. He forced me to leave my home behind at gunpoint and took me to a remote indigenous area where I did not speak the language. I was imprisoned by him for one year and attempted to escape. During that time I was subjected to brutal physical and sexual violence on a daily basis. He told me that he could do whatever he wanted because I was his wife which made me his property. I was finally able to escape the horrible situation and I fled to the United States. With the help of Mil Mujeres, I filed for asylum based on my fear of gender-based domestic violence. Thankfully, I won the asylum case in April of 2013. I am so happy to know that I am safe and that I do not have to fear going back to my country where I would be in danger because of my ex-husband.
Central American Woman Wins U-visa Case
February 17, 2012
My name is Monica*. I am in my thirties and was born in Central America. I have been living in the United states since the 2000s. I am a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of Julio, my former intimate partner, who abused me physically and psychologically, almost killing me with a knife one day when I tried to leave him. He waited for me outside my new home and when I got out of my car, he stabbed me 13 times and left me on the street struggling for life. When the ambulance arrived I was almost dead, but thankfully I survived. With the help of Mil Mujeres I won my U-visa case and feel safe now with legal status, permission to work in the United States, and the opportunity for my children to have a better future.
Mexican Woman Wins U-Visa Case
November 6, 2012
My name is Laura*. I am in my thirties and I was born in Mexico. I have been living in the United States since the late 1990s. I am a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of Pedro*, my former husband, who abused me physically and psychologically. One day he got home late to the house and tried to touch me and I didn’t let him because he was drunk. He grabbed me by the hair and took me out into the living room where two of his friends were and he hit me in the street. My sister called the police and they came and made a report of what happened. Later, a letter arrived at the house from the District Attorney’s office that said I had charges against Pedro for domestic violence. He became furious and he started to beat me. He grabbed me by the neck like he wanted to strangle me and he was screaming, telling me that he was going to kill me. My sister called the police and when they arrived he was choking me and it was the police that pulled him off of me. Pedro was put in jail and I divorced him and finally was able to escape his abuse. With the help of Mil Mujeres, I won my U-visa case in November of 2012. I am so happy to know that I will have a future, but I am even happier to know that my children will have a future with a mom who won’t be deported by immigration.
Guatemalan Woman Wins U-visa Case
October 11, 2011
My name is Ana*. I am 37-years old and was born in Guatemala. I have been living in the United States since the late 90’s and have children aged 12, 16, and 17. I am a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of my husband, Jeremiah*, and with the assistance of Mil Mujeres, two of my children and I obtained U-visas in October 2011.
I began living with Jeremiah when I was 18. He was always violent and constantly abused me. He hit me when he got drunk, even when I was pregnant. One day we went to a party and he hit me and put a gun to my head just because I was dancing with a friend. I was too afraid to call the police because he always said if he was deported he would kill my mother back in Guatemala.
A few years ago, in the early morning, I was asleep at home when Jeremiah abruptly came home. He was very drunk and was looking for food. He got very angry because I did not wake up immediately, so he entered the bedroom yelling that I had to go to the kitchen to make some food for him and his brother. Then he started to hit me and pulled my hair. I was crying and screaming because it really hurt, and I wanted someone to hear and help me. He got so crazy that he put a beer bottle in my mouth, and he pushed it so strong that it got broke, so my lips and tongue got cut. When he realized that the police were outside of the building, he tried to hide the beer bottles. When they came in, my mouth was bleeding and I told them everything that had happened. As a result, Jeremiah was arrested and taken to jail. When he was released from jail he was very violent because he blamed me for his arrest.
He eventually moved out, and I began to meet with a mental health therapist at a local community services to help me with my deep depression. Jeremiah has tried to come back home, but I told him that if he returned I would call the police. My youngest daughter is going to school. Now that I have my U-visa, I’m going to apply for my social security card and look forward to being able to work in the United States.
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