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How Domestic and Sexual Violence Impacts Asian American and Pacific Islander Women

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As an anti-violence nonprofit organization, we believe that this month represents an important opportunity to raise awareness about an issue that deeply affects Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women throughout the United States: domestic and sexual violence.

In March, an Atlanta-area man went on a shooting rampage that targeted Asian women and Asian-owned businesses. While local police initially dismissed the idea that this was a hate crime, it was clearly an example of racialized sexism rooted in hate and harmful stereotypes. Today, we are looking deeper — at the broader impact of gender-based violence on AAPI women in the U.S.

According to the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, physical and sexual violence is all-too-common for AAPI women. Specifically:

  • Between 21 and 55% of Asian women in the United States experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime. These numbers are based on samples taken from six Asian American ethnic groups:

    • 22.4% of Vietnamese women experience partner abuse

    • 21.8% of Filipino women experience partner abuse

    • 19.5% of Indian women experience partner abuse

    • 19.5% of Korean women experience partner abuse

    • 9.7% of Japanese women experience partner abuse

    • 9.7% of Chinese women experience partner abuse

  • In a national survey, 18% of AAPI women reported experiencing rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

These numbers are significantly lower than the rates of abuse reported by other ethnic groups in the United States. For example, in the same national survey, 45% of Black women reported experiencing this same type of abuse. This may be due in part to cultural norms that normalize this type of abuse, or barriers that may prevent AAPI women from reporting abuse or seeking help. A 2018 study on intimate partner violence among South Asian women found that there were a number of factors that affected the rate of violence against women in this community, including:

  • Cultural normalization of abuse

  • Gender role expectations

  • Need to protect family honor

  • Arranged marriage system

  • Patriarchal cultural system and financial dependence

  • Threats to immigration status

  • Women’s fear of losing children and being on their own

While some of these factors may be specific to Asian American women, others are common in communities across the United States — such as gender role expectations and the normalization of abuse.

At Blackburn Center, we know that gender-based violence, like domestic abuse and sexual assault, can happen to anyone — and in any community. We provide services for all victims and survivors, and work hard to help prevent this type of violence from happening in the first place. If you need help, we are here for you 24 hours a day: 1-888-832-2272. Calls to our hotline are always free of charge and can be anonymous.



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