Some women refugee and immigrants who come to Buffalo struggle with domestic violence and become easy targets for human trafficking. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says the International Institute of Buffalo provides important services for these women as they try to live a new life in our city.
"The fatality rate is higher for immigrant survivors then U.S. citizens. And that is because of their lack of cultural competence in what is availability to them when it comes to safety," said
Amy Fleischauer, Director of Survivor Support Services at the International Institute.
Each year her department serves about 160 domestic violence survivors from 45-different countries. For women from other cultural backgrounds they often don't realize their rights and support services.
"We talk about what is court. What is a judge. What role do police play here, which is often very different than some of the corruption and violence that they experience at the hands of law enforcement in their countries of origin," said Fleischauer.
The refugee and immigrant victims are walked through the process in obtaining court orders of protection or learning about child custody in criminal and family courts.
"I remember very distinctly the look on one of the survivors faces when she walked in and saw a woman was a judge, even that was really powerful to her," stated Fleischauer. "I think begin education about their rights is so important as an issue of human rights."
Some immigrants are exploiting through human trafficking. The International Institute helps serve 60 to 75-survivors a year. They're often easy targets of trafficking recruiters.
"The recruitment is happening in all different countries. Just last week we worked with individuals who were survivors from Guatemala, Honduras, India, Burma, Iraq, Somalia, The Republic of Angola, Canada, Ethiopia, Congo and actually ten other countries, so this is just in one week." noted Fleischauer.
But providing these type of services that educates and assists to protect from domestic violence and human trafficking can been costly for the International Institute. Thursday evening the organization hosts its premier fundraising event -- Buffalo Without Borders -- at The Lafayette. It celebrates the city's diversity with food, entertainment and items from many countries now represented in our region.
"We need to raise money to make sure that we don't turn anybody away and that we also can spend the time out in the community educating people about what we do, about what their rights are" said International Institute Executive Director Eva Hassett.
Hassett notes her organization has providing to the city's immigrant and refugee community for 96-years. "Life saving, intimate, powerful service to amazing clients," stated Hassett.
Hassett also stresses this population is very important to Buffalo.
"Really diverse Buffalo is powerful Buffalo," said Hassettt.
Hassett urges our community to appreciate the different races as positives that add to our life-long learning experience.
"We could be even better in terms of our relationships on the ground," Hassett said.