Telling the story of domestic violence in Asian American families

Published on
March 19, 2020

Domestic violence is a serious issue in Asian American communities, but the problem is rarely recognized, perhaps because of the “model minority” myth. Domestic violence poses a dire public health threat because it can result in injury or death, but in many Asian households, it’s still viewed as a private family matter. 

National surveys suggest that Asian American women are much less likely to report partner physical and sexual assault than women from other racial backgrounds. Often, Asian women feel too ashamed and afraid to call the police or to seek help, especially if they’re immigrants who face cultural and linguistic barriers.

For this project for the 2020 California Fellowship, I’ll explore the extent of domestic violence in Asian American communities. I plan to introduce the problem through personal stories, interviews with experts and statistics on prevalence. In particular, I’ll look into beliefs and cultural and socioeconomic factors that contribute to domestic violence in Asian families.

This project will also examine solutions. The silence and secrecy that surround domestic violence can make it difficult for any woman to seek help, but many Asian women don’t know about their rights or where they can find assistance. This piece will explore the barriers to getting help and how they’re being addressed in culturally sensitive ways. I plan to include information on resources, including multilingual crisis and information hotlines, shelters, legal assistance and peer counseling. 

There’s also a strong children’s health angle. Witnessing domestic violence can traumatize children and raise the risk that they’ll grow up to become abusers themselves. I’ll explore what is being done to break the cycle of violence in families. Some domestic violence advocates say that they don’t just help women, they help families.