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Help with filing I-360 VAWA for abused spouse

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Hi there,

I met my husband two years ago, and we lived together for 18 months before getting married in October of last year. We got married in good faith: while he didn't necessarily agree with marriage, we were in love and he didn't want me to leave the country, so we had a small ceremony in our backyard just before Halloween 2014.

Our relationship had been controlling and difficult prior to the wedding, but after the wedding it became much worse. I think I knew even before we got married that he had some serious issues, however I loved him and believed he would work on those issues and that the relationship would improve. Instead, things escalated to the point where he was drinking every day, smoking pot heavily, being threatening and verbally abusive, etc. In November of 2014 he hit me in the face and pushed me several times. There was also a good bit of financial abuse, insofar as he voluntarily dropped down his hours at work and expected me to support him, despite the fact that, on an F1 visa, I was only permitted to work 20 hours a week on campus (which paid about $600 a month--definitely not enough for one person to live on, let alone two). I had come into some money from a deceased relative, and during the two years we were together he chewed up all $30,000 of it, mostly on eBay purchases. If I spoke up about this or suggested he might want to start working more, he became verbally abusive, gaslit me, put me down, and threatened me.

We decided to separate in February of 2015, but with a view to trying to make the relationship work after a trial period/some distance. He remained living at my address for one month. During that time I did not feel safe at home. On one occasion he found me texting another guy, grabbed my phone, and smashed the hell out of it. When I went to replace the phone the next day he became very angry and threatening. His goal was to cut me off from contacting anyone else, to make sure I was isolated, alone, and unable to report my abuse. The phone was literally BENT in half. (I don't have the phone anymore, as I had to return it to Sprint to get a replacement, under my insurance plan, which obviously I was keen to do as soon as possible. I also wasn't able to take photographs of the phone, as my phone is my camera...)

I spent most of the time away from home in February 2015, staying with friends, despite the fact that my mother owns the house my husband and I were living in, and my husband was not paying rent. I didn't want to rock the boat, or make things more difficult: I just wanted to be safe and away from him. On the one occasion that I did spend the night at our shared residence, he got me incredibly drunk and then, after I'd passed out in my (separate) bedroom, attempted to rape me. I did not report this to the police, because it took me several weeks to process what had happened. It's really difficult to accept and believe that someone you once loved is capable of doing that to you. In addition--it's New Orleans. The police are notorious for mismanaging rape cases, and I didn't want to go through the humiliation of reporting him to the cops, only to have them say "well, he's your husband, though..."

During this time I reported my abusive situation to several people, mostly friends, but on one occasion also to my mentor at university. She advised me to call the police and file a report, if for no other reason than to have it on record. I didn't know what I would say to the police. I was worried about my safety if my husband discovered I'd called the cops, and I was also still worried about HIS safety: during this time he was sending me threatening text messages on the regular, either threatening to kill himself, or to kill the guy I had started seeing.

Long story short, he eventually moved out and I've been living separately from him since March 2015. I am in the process of filing for a divorce, which he refuses to communicate about, and which I am uncertain he will deal with when he is served papers. It's his goal to make my life as difficult and miserable as possible. He wants me to be deported. He wants to ruin my life. He is doing everything he can to make this process as painful and hard for me as possible.

I also encountered him at a bar a few months after we separated. On that occasion, there are eyewitnesses who saw me go from pretty much sober to wasted within the space of an hour, despite the fact that my bar tab was only $30 (including drinks I'd purchased for my friend, who took care of me that night). I blacked out totally & woke up vomiting in my bed at home, with my friend taking care of me. Apparently my husband had, at some point during my blackout, "escorted me" to the bathroom. I have no memory of this. I have no idea what happened in that bathroom. My friend, who was at the bar, says that when I came out I was incredibly distressed and crying. I don't remember any of this. Again, I didn't report it to the police because I thought it was possible that I had simply gotten too drunk. It took me several days to realize what had probably happened and to work through the fear and shame of that. By that point, it would have been impossible to test for drugs in my system etc.

I guess what I'm asking is this: I spoke to an immigration lawyer, and he suggested taht I could file an I-360. However, aside from possibly some text message threads and facebook messages (which I can probably get from Sprint--many of them were on my old, now smashed, phone), I don't have "evidence" of abuse. My counselor has agreed to sign an affidavit, and my mentor at university will probably be willing to do the same. Is the I-360 "winnable" without photographic evidence of abuse, without a police report? I am willing, at this point, to go to the cops and retroactively report these crimes/file a restraining order. Will that help my case?

I'm scared to do all of this because, as a victim of trauma, it's a) difficult to rehash this stuff while I'm still emotionally and psychologically processing it and b) the idea of USCIS rejecting the case is terrifying, not just because my entire life and career will be upended, but because it would amount to a government entity telling me "sorry, but you weren't abused ENOUGH. Your trauma and suffering are invalid."

Any tips or suggestions on how I can improve my chances? Will affidavits be sufficient? Should I file a police report even though it's been several months since the assaults? Help.

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*** Thread moved from CR-1 Process forum to the Effects of Major Changes forum, where similar issues are discussed. ***

06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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At this point, it is your words without physical evidences. You need more established proofs to prove your vawa. A police report or restraint order is not enough. An experienced immigration lawyer will assist you better. Good luck.


12/06/2014: Package filed

12/31/2014: Fingerprinted

02/06/2015: In-Line for Interview

04/15/2015: Passed Interview

05/05/2015: Oath letter was sent

05/22/2015: Oath Ceremony

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