Americas Stop Asian Hate

Domestic violence problems brought to fore after being ‘silenced’ for decades

By Cesar Antonio Nucum Jr.

SAN FRANCISCO – Prostitution is regarded by many historians as the oldest profession that had the stigma to many conservatives who would rather consider it as illegal and even punish the prostitutes for “peddling their bodies” while feminists see it as a form of economic coercion or exploitation that makes consent to it as “impossible”.


In the same level of dilemma is domestic violence that, according to author, essayist, and activist from University of California Davis Angela Davis is “the oldest and most pervasive form of violence in the world” that has long been accepted as just an inevitable part of the complex fabric of family relationships across all cultures, including mainstream American culture.


Encouragingly, however, today there is a growing movement to break that mindset is emerging even as data revealed that the rate of domestic violence has not fallen as one out of 3 women and one in 6 men in the US have experienced domestic violence at some point in their lifetimes.


Presently, Davis can breathe easily as fifty years or many decades after silence about this issue during her childhood based on the assumption that nothing could be done during her childhood, there’s a public commitment to end domestic or gender-based violence for good.  


This was the topic discussed during a conference organized by Ethnic Media Services on domestic violence sponsored by Blue Shield California Foundation and the Black Freedom Fund that focused on efforts to find solutions through legislation, reforms in the judicial system and grassroots mobilizing through social media by survivors of abuse themselves.


Aside from video remarks by Angela Davis, others who lent their precious time for this event included California State Senator Susan Rubio, a Democrat from Baldwin Park, Tina Swithen, the founder of One Woman’s Battle, and Viji Sundaram, reporter for the San Francisco Public Press and Co-Founder of Narika, a nonprofit advocacy group working with South Asian American women.


In her remarks, Davis impressed that the question of silence that has been in most human societies for hundreds of years that somehow also led to victims learning how to hide incidents instead of coming out with it that only served to add to the problem of the survivor.


“One of the reasons I wrote the book called Blues Legacies andd Black Feminism was because listening to black women blues singers, Bessie Smith, Mahraini, and so forth, Ida Cox, Rosa Henderson, so forth… many of them saying about violence. They sang about what was happening to them in their relationships,” imparted Davis.


Davis was sad that domestic violence was just something that existed and nothing could really be done about it except to find solutions involving escape that violence was necessarily a part of human relationships unlike today when a vast number of people are so politically engaged.


For her part, California State Senator Susan Rubio, herself a survivor of domestic violence, has authored a number of bills addressing the problem, including the HELP Act, made it her mission to act on the problem particularly as a state legislator since she started in 2018.


“The victims are not given the resources that they need. And so when we think of a victim with children, they’re having to make a choice whether they leave the relationship and end up on the street homeless with their children or stay in that relationship and be abused and battered. So that’s that wasn’t a real choice as many victims are allowed to stay in shelters 30 to 45 days and then they’re on in the street again,” rued Rubio who did her part in easing this problem with her Help Act.


Rubio contend that for the victims, thinking long-term means asking themselves: do I take it in want to be homeless or do I want to stay in this abusive relationship? There is no middle ground or a solution, Rubio says, and with the Help Act, victims are required to be called now we are requiring that we call them on a company, women who leave a relationship and end up being on the street, but don’t get priority. Some are reported to being on the street up to 10 years before they got helped which is just unacceptable and Rubio thinks everyone has the right to be housed and feel safe.  


Other measures Rubio introduced and passed to law were the:


1) Phoenix Act. which extended the statute of limitations for victims of domestic violence from three to now five years although the bill originally would have extended it to 15 years;  and


2) The Piqui’s law, named after Aramazd Andressian Jr. or Piqui, a Pasadena California five-year-old boy who was killed by his said to be ‘abusive’ father after a trip to Disneyland in 2017 while in the process of divorce with Piqui’s mother. This law would prohibit the court from ordering family reunification treatments, programs or services.. and ensures that judges involved in domestic violence and child custody issues receive additional training.


“We tend to think that domestic violence happens to women or men. We know it happens to men as well. We tend to think that those that have higher degrees, perhaps we’re educated, have experience with the system, will not fall victims to domestic violence,” Rubio explained. “I was a local council member. I have a bachelor, some masters, I was a teacher for everything that you would need to recognize the signs to perhaps, prevent yourself from falling victim to, domestic violence, but it happened to me.”


Rubio learned that “there really there are no barriers it could happen to anyone it doesn’t matter who you are” and she is now interviewing women and discover more and more that it seems like it’s happening to a lot of professional women because perpetrators know how important their reputation is and know how important their career is so they spend a lot of time threatening the victims by either going to the media and going public with it which is  extremely embarrassing for a victim who is also about to deal with public scrutiny aside from being victim-shamed.   


“After my case and my story broke, hundreds of women reached out to me through social media, email. I became somewhat of a diary for these women and I knew I knew there was a calling I knew that I was placed in this position to do something about it and through their experience and some of my own experience I’ve been able to tackle issues one by one as the years progress and so I’ve already third open partners with about 25 bills in the legislature,” Rubio added.


Rubio also strongly believes that a step towards solution of the problem on domestic violence is education on how to seek and get help as a lot of victims don’t know that there’s help.


“What I hear a lot is immigrant women being threatened with their, their status, immigration status. And especially if you’re in a dangerous situation. So I think for these immigrant women, and especially you’re in a dangerous situation. So I think for these immigrant women, I would recommend to go to a domestic violence advocate, domestic violence shelter just to seek guidance because you need someone at your side, guiding you through the process,” Rubio advised.

(This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American )