By Stephanie Guevara
Inna Parizher and Lambreni Waddell, Attorney and Community Outreach Director from Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, informed students about the legal system’s response to sexual assault yesterday.
Along with other events occurring this month for sexual assault awareness, students are being exposed to different options of aid. Students were advised to report to someone immediately if they are being abused.
Students were informed about the difference between seeking legal help and counseling. Parizher said that a victim might want to seek counseling rather than legal help because it might help them on a personal level.
Lambreni told students that they should report any type of sexual assault. Sexual assault doesn’t only involve penetration or a physical touch, but also any case in which a person makes another person feels sexually uncomfortable.
At East Los Angeles College, students can find counseling services through the Sexual Assault Awareness and Violence Education Team.
Parizher also said that in some cases, victims have called the police for help because their spouses were the abusers, but the police didn’t take action.
“The law isn’t a perfect system. I’ve had clients tell me that they call the police (because their spouse was being abusive) and they tell them, ‘It’s your husband, stop fighting with him,” Parizher said.
Students were also informed about how the law protects undocumented victims. Undocumented victims can apply for U visas as a solution, if their spouse is threatening to report them to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A U visa is a non-immigrant visa for victims of certain violent crime who cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the offender. U visas are the first step toward a pathway for citizenship.
U visas became effective in 2008 and courts have ruled that only 10,000 can be granted each year.
In some cases, victims are denied U visas, because the investigations don’t provide enough evidence of the crime being too violent enough.
“Sometimes there is some sort of injustice made, but we still help these victims with their legal status,” Parizher said.
Parizher also said that the majority of undocumented victims believe that they don’t have the right to access legal support, however they do have the right.