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Immigrant mother attempts suicide after speaking out about sexual assault in detention

The Outline reported on an exclusive interview with Laura Monterrosa, survivor of sexual assault at T. Don Hutto Detention Center, regarding her experience in speaking out while being confined in “hell.” Detailing her life story from El Salvador to the U.S./Mexico border, Monterrosa speaks of the life-threatening persecution she faced as an LGBT woman. “At ICE facilities across the country, immigrants often face the same abuse they fled in their home countries,” the data on ICE’s sexual assault problem reveals.

When she arrived to the United States and was subsequently detained, the abuse she knew from El Salvador only repeated itself. After learning of Monterrosa’s sexual orientation, a guard began touching her. “My hope disappeared in that moment. I didn’t think that, in the place where I was seeking refuge, the same thing would happen as in my country,” Monterrosa told The Outline.

The abuse worsened when Monterrosa faced retaliation for speaking out against the abuse. She has since been threatened with administrative discipline for refusing to eat in the same area as her abuser. “A week after we last spoke, Monterrosa tried to kill herself by overdosing on pain medication that had been left in her room by Hutto medical staff,” the article stated. Monterrosa survived the attempt with continuing health implications.

The article notes the history of abuse at the facility: in 2010, a guard named Donald Dunn was prosecuted for groping several women detained at Hutto while transporting them. Two other women also came forward when Monterrosa reported the abuse in November.