‘What drove a madman to do this?’ Domestic Violence probed in Monterey Park shooting

Reports of domestic violence surged in 2020, and have been on the rise in Los Angeles and across California ever since. Yet domestic violence reporting among Asian Angelenos remains far lower than for other groups, data show. Those who work with survivors and perpetrators in California’s Asian American Pacific Islander communities say those figures belie the struggle they see behind closed doors.

“If you say we run a domestic violence hotline, no one’s going to call, because no one thinks they’re a domestic violence survivor,” said Debra Suh, executive director of the Center for the Pacific Asian Family. “There’s a very different standard of thinking who a domestic violence survivor is.”

Cultural barriers can make it hard for some survivors to acknowledge abuse, or to seek help when they need it, advocates said.

To be sure, “Asian” is a broad umbrella encompassing many distinct ethnic groups, faith traditions, languages and cultures. Even Lui’s linguistically and ethnically homogeneous Mandarin-speaking clients are split between highly educated engineers on one side, and restaurant workers and truck drivers on the other.

Yet practical barriers prevent many survivors from reporting abuse.

“There’s a concept in white communities that leaving your spouse is the only answer, but for many in our community, it’s not,” said Manjusha P. Kulkarni, executive director at the AAPI Equity Alliance. “They don’t want physical violence, but having to leave or having him jailed or deported does not make their lives better. If he gets deported, what happens to the family?”