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Legal Information: Federal


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Laws current as of
August 15, 2022

What type of abuse can qualify me for a self-petition?

You must prove that you were the victim of “battery or extreme cruelty.” This is the phrase that is written in VAWA and it covers most forms of domestic abuse. The law defines battery or extreme cruelty as including, but not limited to:

  • being the victim of any act or threatened act of violence, including any forceful detention, which results or threatens to result in physical or mental injury;
  • psychological or sexual abuse or exploitation, including rape, molestation, incest, or forced prostitution; and
  • other abusive actions, including acts that, in and of themselves, may not initially appear violent but that are a part of an overall pattern of violence.1 

You should work with your domestic violence counselor to explain, in detail, all the kinds of abuse you suffered. For example, abusive acts that are not physical, such as threats to get you deported if you were to report the abuse to law enforcement could be included. If you are/were married to the abuser, you should also explain any abuse that your children suffered.

1 8 CFR § 204.2(c)(1)(vi)