We first met Catherine (not her real name) about a year ago. She told us about how she had entered into an arranged marriage in her home country to a man she only met briefly and how when she came to the United States to join him, her hopes for a relationship built on trust, respect and love came crashing down very quickly.
For over two years, Catherine’s husband used her as a domestic servant. She wasn’t a wife – she was a maid, cook and errand runner. She had to submit to sex anytime her husband demanded it. Catherine’s husband forced her to take a job doing work for one of his family members and all the money she earned went directly to him. He wasn’t shy about what he was doing – he often referred to his wife as a “slave.” He threatened to have her deported or killed if she ever called the police on him.
After their child was born, Catherine’s husband used the baby as a tool of control. He fled the state with their son and, without legal status, Catherine was scared to talk with law enforcement. She hasn’t seen her son in several years.
It was gut-wrenching listening to Catherine tell her story of how her now ex-husband destroyed her hopes, her self-esteem, and how he was trying to destroy her relationship with her child. We knew that what had happened to her was wrong and that the T visa for victims of human trafficking was the best solution for her lack of immigration status. We prepared her application, including pictures, statements, and a letter from her counselor. And then we waited.
Today, we received notification that her case was approved! I called Catherine to tell her the good news and between the tears, she said “thank you for making my day…for making my life…for making my and my son’s life.” I know that Catherine’s journey is far from over, but I know that she now has the confidence and security that lawful immigration status provides. She is a woman on a mission and I cannot wait to see how she continues to grow and thrive.