What is “extreme cruelty”?

Courtesy of Pixabay, labeled for reuse: https://pixabay.com/p-894846/?no_redirect

Extreme cruelty is a term often used within the context of Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) Self-petitions. VAWA is immigration benefit available for some relatives of U.S. citizens or Green Card holders who suffer domestic violence at the hand of their relative. Please see here for more information about VAWA Self-petitions.

Under VAWA, and among other requirements, the applicant must show they have suffered “battery or extreme cruelty” at the hands of the abusive U.S. citizen or Green Card holder. The law recognizes that domestic violence can take many different forms. It is not mandatory for VAWA Self-petitioners to have reported incident of violence and be able to produce police reports or orders of protection in order to show evidence on their case. Despite being helpful, formal reports to law enforcement are not an option in the minds of many victims who, fearful of retaliation, decide against reporting the abuse.

Here are some examples of forms of abuse that may be considered extreme cruelty against domestic violence victims:

  • Threats of violence or emotional harm, threats to report the victim to law enforcement in order to get them deported, or threats to withdraw immigration petitions that may allow the victim to gain lawful status.
  • Controlling the victim’s finances, demand for the victim to support the common household by themselves without good reason, not allowing them to keep their earnings, or not allowing them to receive training or go to work.
  • Isolating the victim, not allowing them to have any contact with friends or family, not allowing them to speak their language, or not allowing them to learn English.
  • Emotionally abusing the victim, lying about their immigration status or case, contacting family members or friends and lie about the victim, insulting and belittling the victim.
  • Manipulating their children, threatening to take the children away if the victim attempts the leave the abuser or report the abuse, threatening the deport the children if they are undocumented.
You can set up a consultation by clicking the link below.


To find out more about our services and fees contact Scott Legal, P.C

This website and blog constitutes attorney advertising.  Do not consider anything in this website or blog legal advice and nothing in this website constitutes an attorney-client relationship being formed.  Set up a one-hour consultation with us before acting on anything you read here. Past results are no guarantee of future results and prior results do not imply or predict future results.  Each case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Please note that the abuse still needs to be significant in order to be considered extreme cruelty and it is often helpful to show how the abuse is part of a pattern of behavior to control and dominate the victim.


  • Aretta Evans-hakim says:

    What if the immigrant is causing the us citizen extreme cruelty by doing the things that you have listed above. By making the us citizen feel that all they wanted from them was to get there green card. Making them feel that they have to fight or flight the situration .

    • IanScott says:

      Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate your business and look forward to helping you. Please find attached a link that you can use to set up a 30 minute ($150) or 1 hour ($250) consultation. The system allows you to select a lawyer and a day and time that is convenient to you. If you end up hiring the firm and your bill is greater than $2,500, we will apply this consultation fee to your final bill. Please reach out if you have any questions.


      Kind regards,

Leave a Reply to IanScott Cancel Reply

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.