Americans Overseas 2017-04-10T10:00:16+00:00

Americans Overseas

AODVC serves Americans of all genders, races, ethnicities, religion, abilities, age and their pets, in international domestic violence situations.

We serve the estimated 9 million Americans living overseas, the 80 million Americans traveling overseas annually, and 450,000 American military personnel and dependents overseas.

Each year, approximately 25% of the US population lives, works, travels, studies, and/or volunteers abroad. Unfortunately, this population, as with any other population, is at risk for gender based violence, including domestic violence.

international domestic violence

Barriers to American Victims Living Abroad

  • No access to travel documents
    Abusers may hide or destroy passports, visas, birth certificates and other necessary documents
  • No permission to leave country
    In some countries, travel bans can be legally filed on survivors and children, barring them from leaving the country.
  • Abuser may be high ranking in the American Embassy, local government or corporation
  • Does not speak the language
  • Unfamiliarity with resources and legal system
  • No domestic violence laws
  • Local services may not be accessible to non-citizens
  • Undocumented legal status

 

Obstacles Facing Survivors After Returning Home

  • May be homeless, penniless and will probably not be able to recover any personal possessions or assets.
  • Protracted international custody cases
  • Locating and paying for an international family law attorney
  • Reverse culture shock
  • Lack of support network
  • Does not qualify for services such as shelter transitional housing
  • Difficulty finding employment due to a gap in work history
  • Credit history does not transfer from abroad
  • Abuser might have contacts in US looking for the survivor and children
  • Difficulty enforcing US alimony and child support orders in foreign countries.

 

International Family Law Implications

  • Through an international treaty, Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, an abuser can force a fleeing survivor to return the children to the foreign country.
  • The Hague Convention has no stated exception for domestic violence.
  • Abusers can also use other custody laws such as Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to gain custody of the children.

There are defenses to these actions. Survivors need to consult with an International Family Lawyer to assess their options.

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