Charity wins grant to battle abuse

A local charity has received a grant from the federal government to provide legal help to immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse.

New Hampshire Catholic Charities has been awarded $400,000 for its Legal Assistance for Victims program from the U.S. Department of Justice’s office on Violence Against Women, according to Cathy Chesley, director of the charity’s Immigration Services.

The grant will provide legal assistance to victims of domestic violence for the next two years, she said. “It allows our office to hire more staff members, including attorneys and accredited immigration representatives, to handle these cases,” Chesley said. “This grant is tremendous.”

She said domestic violence cases are particularly difficult when victims are involved in the immigration process. It’s not unheard of for abusers to use fear of deportation or separation from children to intimidate victims, Chesley said, and that doesn’t take into account the overall complexity of the immigration system as well as cultural and language barriers.

“Our legal staff knows how to deal with all aspects of the immigration process, and with this grant we will be able to dedicate staff members to helping abused women, children and sometimes men get out of dangerous situations without fear of being forced to return to their home country,” Chesley said.

For more information about the grant or New Hampshire Catholic Charities services, call Kim George, the charity’s managing attorney, at 889-9431.