By Savitre “Rapture” Schaefferkoetter, Staff Writer
The Asian American young adult female. Is she a vocal, confident “gangsta” or a demure, subservient housewife? Most of us know we aren’t one or the other. Just as likely, the domestic violence victim doesn’t have one singular portrait. She wears many faces. She could be you or me.
What defines domestic violence? According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, domestic violence “is a repetitive pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over an intimate partner…abuse includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of abuse can be going on at any one time.”
Statistics show that domestic violence is prominent within our community. The website Reappropriate states that 40 to 60 percent of Asian American women report some form of domestic violence. Furthermore, a study from the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence (API-GBV) has found that “younger age, higher socio-economic status, alcohol- and substance-use disorders, depression and being U.S. born” were attributed to risk of domestic violence among Asian American women.
Why is this the case? A child may be involved. A victim may not realize the warning signs and reason them away as a bad mood or with “he’s usually nicer” and “he loves me.” This writer has observed in Asian Americans a romanticized view of love. Love hurts, love doesn’t come easy. These survival skills make us tough but does not enable us to act quickly when the symptoms arise. Asian American/Pacific Islander women may also fail to take themselves seriously. In a society where we often get categorized as cute and childlike, we often start to believe it ourselves. That status often makes it harder to take us seriously or to earn basic respect. Interestingly, “the probability of husbands’ violence against wives was higher when wives had a greater share of household chores,” according to the API-GBV study.
Why is this problem perpetuating? Many Asian Americans are raised with the idea of saving face. To fail is an embarrassment for yourself, your family and your community. To seek help outside of the community is taboo. If you involve an outsider, they will judge the community. A distrust between the police and the victim may exist, causing more problems.
What can we do to help this? Lift the stigma of seeking help. Victims must understand that modern providers maintain a confidentiality clause. Many providers are now more exposed to cultural aspects and are more sensitive to the nuances of pride and privacy among Asian Americans. In addition, help within the community is on the rise. One simply needs to have the courage to look.
Here is a link to for help and resources nationwide: www.api-gbv.org//resources/directories.php.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but we must strive to be aware of our situation everyday. While purple ribbons may fly high for these four weeks, let us stay educated forever in our minds. As an Asian American woman, are you involved in a relationship? Next, honestly ask yourself, is this relationship abusive? Finally, if that is the case, realize if you wish to be a statistic or if you wish to be a survivor, advocate and someone who could possibly help others as well.
- Special to The Jade Times