Asian-American panel views domestic violence

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The seemingly intractable scourge of domestic violence among Asian Americans was front and center at a panel discussion last week in Flushing.

The April 14 conference, called “Out of the Darkness: Confronting Domestic Violence in Our Community,” brought together representatives of academia, community organizing groups, the corporate world and law enforcement in an engaging conversation about ending abuse in the Asian-American Diaspora.

As panelist Jerin Arifa, the manager of the New York Asian Women's Center's Project Speak Out program who is also active in the National Organization for Women, said, Asian communities are sometime especially vulnerable to the ravages of domestic violence and the silence that all too often accompanies it.

Whether they avoid confrontation as a result of fatalism, immigration concerns, the belief in karma or other cultural issues, ´╗┐many Asian domestic violence victims never leave their abusers or seek help, Arifa said.

And with that reluctance comes a toll. Last year the NYPD took 247,000 calls about domestic violence incidents, and 75 people — 24 of them children — were killed as a result of domestic violence, according to NYPD Sgt. Stephen Kurz.

“The pan-Asian community must get out the message that violence will not be tolerated against our mothers, our sisters and our daughters,” Arifa said, echoing the statements of other panelists.

The panel members and attendees are working hard at their varied organizations to bring domestic violence out of the shadows, get the word out about ways to get help and educate the Asian population about its dangers.

“One way that all of us can get involved, can get engaged, is by educating ourselves and knowing what resources are available in the community for domestic violence victims and survivors,” said CUNY School of Law Professor Donna Lee, the discussion’s moderator.

Larry Lee, executive director of the New York Asian Women’s Center, which hosted the event at the YWCA, at 42-07 Parsons Blvd., put it simply. He said there are a couple of things he wishes everyone knew about domestic violence to begin the process of stopping it from continuing in the future.

“There’s domestic violence in the Asian-American community. The victim is not to be blamed. And there are places where you can get help,” he said.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 11:00 am, October 12, 2011
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