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SAFE: Some domestic abuse victims declining help amid deportation fears

A local organization that helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse is seeing a recent trend that concerns them. They say it's related to deportation fears. (CBS Austin)

A local organization that helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse is seeing a recent trend that concerns them. They say it's related to deportation fears.

"Something was happening, she was a survivor of sexual assault or domestic violence, and she came to us for safety, which is what we are hoping to provide to all, and she did not feel safe here," SAFE Community Education Director Sandra Molinari said.

She shares a story of a domestic abuse victim, who was seeking help and protection, but because of her immigration status, she stopped seeking assistance.

"It worries me, because that means now she's going back out into the community into another unsafe situation," Molinari said.

It's a problem they've been trying to avoid for the past several months -- undocumented victims fearing they can't get the help they need out of fear of being deported.

"We are absolutely not legally obligated to work with ICE at all," Molinari told CBS Austin.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler has been outspoken about the passage of the "Sanctuary Cities" law since its proposal.

"Do you know what happens to a woman who is victimized and can't go to the police? She gets victimized again," Adler told a crowd at a leadership breakfast on Wednesday.

The law takes effect Sept. 1, but recent immigration arrests have stoked fears in the communities of targeted raids.

SAFE says that most of their clients are Hispanic, but they'll never ask for a person's documentation status.

"Our main goal is to help people stay safe," Molinari said.

They have a free 24-hour hotline for anyone needing help leaving an abusive situation. They can be reached at 512-267-SAFE(7233) or online.

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