There are many different protections available for abused or battered women living in the U.S.—even if they are not full legal residents. The U.S. government has provided wives, mothers, and other victims benefits under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which provides help for abused immigrants who:

  • Have been abused by a spouse who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Are children (under age 21) who have been abused by a US citizen or lawful permanent resident parent.

In addition, you could be eligible for other types of immigration relief even if you are unmarried, if the person who abused you is not a legal resident, or if your abuser is not related to you.

What Kinds of Benefits Could You Get If You Leave an Abusive Situation?

You and your children could get many different benefits, such as health care, shelter, insurance, and other forms of relief such as:

  • Emergency Medicaid. This plan allows you and your family to get emergency room treatment, as well as hospital care for cancer treatment and dialysis.
  • Insurance. The Washington State Health Insurance Exchange allows abuse victims to get subsidies and help with copays and medical costs.
  • Medical Care Services (MCS). This program gives medical assistance to disabled immigrants or victims over age 65.
  • Children's and pregnant women's medical services. All low-income pregnant women and their children are eligible for these services (regardless of residency status).
  • State Family Assistance (SFA). This program offers cash assistance for eligible families with dependent children.
  • Pregnant Women's Assistance (PWA). Provides cash benefits for low-income pregnant women.
  • Food Stamps. Women can get help feeding their children through the state-funded Food Assistance Program.
  • Working Connections. This program subsidizes the cost of child care for working parents.

The first step you need to take to protect your family is to get away from your abuser. Read the related links on this page to find a safe place to stay nearby, or call the number above to tell us your story.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington