Thousands of South Asian women in the United States are silent victims of domestic and sexual violence, unleashed by partners who control their lives. The troubles of these women are reflective of other immigrant communities from South America and Africa that also battle domestic violence. Experts note that victims, across the board, get stuck in the cycle of abuse because of language and education barriers, lack of legal access and the risk of deportation. "Many of the struggles South Asian survivors face echo across other immigrant groups," said Purvi Shah, a consultant on 'violence against women', who has worked in the field for 15 years. "It is for this reason that we all must work to eliminate these barriers and to mobilise our communities to end abuse before it even begins." Domestic violence is described as the "most pervasive yet the least recognised human rights abuse in the world" by the UN. One in three women has been physically assaulted at least once in her lifetime. The voices, that oppose the abuse in the immigrant community, have grown stronger than ever before but poorly funded grassroots groups have their limitations. Despite social and financial constraints in the past two decades, more than 20 support and advocacy groups against domestic violence have grabbed a toehold in the immigrant community. The 'Centres for Disease Control and Prevention' reported that in the US, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults, each year. In 2005, 78 percent of victims, from the resulting 1,510 deaths, were women. "The number of women being battered may not have decreased but the women seeking help has increased," said Mallika Dutt, who runs an international human rights organisation that operates in India and the US. However, the situation is different now. The community has transformed from first-generation immigrants to confident second-generation citizens; who are not solely preoccupied with making a living but are more sensitised to social problems of their neighbourhood. Even, as more women reach out to domestic violence groups, a toxic set of circumstances prevent the majority from getting assistance. Brides coming from South Asia are particularly vulnerable because their visa status prohibits them from working, getting a driving license or a social security number. A few women try to earn some under-the-table cash but men keep them isolated by locking them in the house without a phone. This has caused domestic violence groups to concentrate on economic empowerment through programmes like computer training, language classes, assistance with college applications and placement agencies. Still, others keep quiet because they cannot afford to lose face in the community or shame their families. If the couple has a dubious immigrant status, then the risk of deportation seals the silence. Whereas, a large number of women who seek help, return to abusive relationships due to lack of options coupled with false hopes of change in her partner. Though, studies show that the present financial crisis has led to an increase in violence but, economically empowered South Asian women are also silent victims of domestic violence because of the cultural handcuffs and the shame factor. The US offers better services for battered women, compared to the countries they leave behind, where, despite stringent laws, victims are subject to harassment by the police, especially in rural areas. On the other hand, many South Asian immigrants cannot access government services because of the language deficiency. However, the inability of governments, even in developed countries, to cope with the widespread epidemic, makes prevention vital. Khaleej Times