“B” (pseudonym), an undocumented resident, has suffered from severe consequences due to his father’s anger management issues. “Anytime he gets angry or doesn’t get things his way, he screams and throws stuff in the house,” said B, who has lived in the U.S. for 15 years. “Mom and sister have both been physically abused. He even threatened us with a knife in his hand. I wanted to call the police, but I’ve been holding back in fear since I am not a legal resident.”
“A” (pseudonym), who immigrated to the U.S. after marrying a second generation Korean-American, recently escaped to Los Angeles. Her life was ruined as soon as she moved to the U.S. She said that her husband not only had an affair during their marriage, but also verbally abused her regularly. A even asked him for a divorce, which he declined repeatedly. She fled from her home to L.A. to seek professional help.
Some victims of domestic violence remain unaware or in denial that they are being abused, especially if they are unaware of what constitutes abusive behavior, or if their abusers manage to convince the victims that they are somehow at fault. If they do not seek help, the abuse often continues or worsens.
“Many Korean household still believe that letting a domestic violence case pass by will solve the problem,” said Korean American Family Services (KFAM) manager Eun-young Jeong said. “About 70 to 80 percent of those who are now assailants of such a case are ones who’ve been exposed to domestic violence. It’s likely that the level of abuse will only get worse once it starts.”
As such, it is important to understand what behaviors fall under the umbrella of domestic violence. Most domestic violence cases are assailants asserting authority to control the other members of the family. Examples of domestic violence include:
▶ Verbal abuse
▶ Inability to control anger
▶ Threatening the family over money
▶ Throwing things
▶ Physical abuse
While it is difficult, it is essential for domestic violence victims to seek help as soon as possible. Counselors advise that domestic violence between spouses often leads to abuse of their children.
KFAM and Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF) are providing free support for the victims of domestic violence. The two organizations are offering a 24-hour hotline in Korean to support and counsel victims.
“Some in immigrant households are reluctant to report domestic violence cases because of their status in the country,” said CPAF’s Sowmya Murnpy. “The LAPD will never ask for a status of a person who reports a domestic violence case. Our organization is also providing various support programs for free, including shelter for the victims for three months.”
▶ KFAM hotline: 888-979-3800, CPAF: 800-339-3940
By Hyoungjae Kim