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Asian-American women must learn that abuse is not acceptable, and they do not have to submit to it to be "good" and "dutiful" wives.
The community norms of the entire American community indicated that domestic abuse is extremely widespread, and it is common in the Asian-American community. Abuse has negative affects on the entire community, because it creates an aura of shame and degradation over the community, and it creates discord between families, friends, and acquaintances. Finally, it places the entire community in jeopardy, because Asian communities are extremely close-knit. There are leaders in the Asian communities who want to make sure the Asian culture exists and thrives in America. Because of this, they often counsel women to stay in abusive relationships because it supports the culture and belief systems of the group in general. One writer notes, "community gatekeepers are interested in maintaining the status quo in order to preserve the culture. Church leaders, for example, preach the acceptance of private suffering for the sake of peace" (Rimonte 331). Thus, the community can keep women bound into abusive relationships rather than supporting them to leave relationship and make it on their own.
Majorities of women do not report the abuse because of language and cultural issues. Researchers in Massachusetts note, "many immigrant adults are unaccustomed to using formal services to solve personal problems; and deep cultural issues of privacy, obligation, and shame prevent women from reaching out" (Yoshioka and Dang 1). Even in the most understanding communities, there are often few social workers that speak Asian languages, and so the victims are often marooned with no support, no friends, and what seems like no hope. The communities need to recognize that abuse is not acceptable, and rather than condone it, community leaders should lead the march for change and additional support services for abused women in their communities.
Mental health issues are some of the most important in the study of domestic abuse. It has been shown that many abusers have psychological issues, and continued abuse causes women to feel as if they are "wrong," "bad," and deserve the abuse. Thus, the abusers continue to dominate them because they threaten them with more violence and convince them the abuse is their own fault. It is quite common for Asian men to dominate their wives sexually, including withholding any type of birth control to continue dominance over the women. There is tremendous pressure on Asian-American women to hold the family together, present a harmonious family unit publicly, and "save face" at all costs. These researchers note, "For some Asian communities, the family/group unit takes precedence over an individual's life. The obligation of the individual is to be loyal and committed to the family" (Wang et al. 140). Thus, the mental health of the group is more important than the mental health of the wife, and even then, the mental health of the group may be entirely dysfunctional, but the family must always put forth the best face, never admitting there is anything wrong behind closed doors. This belief system does not encourage personal growth and transformation, and so the mental health of the entire family may suffer. The mental health of many abusive relationships is shaky at best, and this can filter down to the children as well.
Obviously, just as abuse affects the victim and her mental health, it affects the family and the child rearing of the parents. If children watch their parents fight, and their father hit their mother, they begin to form the idea that it is all right to beat or hit a woman. The Massachusetts study concludes, "As adults, child witnesses are more likely to believe that men have the right to discipline their wives" (Yoshioka and Dang 29). Many researchers believe that corporal punishment of children can lead to behavioral problems in the children later on, including the belief that corporal punishment is an appropriate solution to domestic difficulties. Thus, if the Asian-American child is to grow up NOT to be an abuser, Asian-American families may have to rethink how they discipline and rear their children, to assure less family violence in the future. Unfortunately, research shows that when women are abused in the home, children are often abused as well. One writer notes, "At the Center for the Pacific Asian Family, for example, two-thirds of the population in the shelter are children. One-fourth of them have been abused; the remaining three-fourths are at risk of abuse by both the father and mother" (Rimonte 335). Thus, domestic abuse affects the children as much as it affects the adults, and if abuse continues, the children may carry on the tradition in their own families. Children who witness ongoing abuse are often traumatized and afraid. Sometimes, they believe they are the cause of the abuse. Clearly, children are negatively affected in many ways. They are often "passive and withdrawn, use aggressive behavior to handle situations, and have impaired peer relations" (Rimonte 336). Often, because their mothers cannot communicate with social workers, they are the "go-betweens," and take on adult responsibilities when they are still too young to be burdened with such matters. Children suffer in these relationships, and their suffering can follow them into their adult relationships.
Asian-American women must learn that they have the right to be free from abuse in their own homes. They must learn there are places where they can go to get help. Massachusetts researchers note, "The lack of natural, informal support networks among recent immigrant populations, as sense of isolation stemming from language barriers, unemployment or underemployment, and the experience of discrimination cause many women to live in fear with few alternatives" (Yoshioka and Dang 1). As the problem of domestic violence in the Asian community is studied more effectively, new recommendations and solutions will certainly be established. One recommended solution is to actually address the high rate of domestic abuse in the Asian community. The problem cannot be swept under the run and ignored. It is an important problem that affects all aspects of the family unit. Asian-American communities need more domestic abuse facilities and shelters, and they need to do more to educate women about abuse, and what they can do to stop it. In addition, there should be screening for domestic violence at all health centers, especially those that primarily service the Asian-American community. In the case of Vietnamese women, they need to be educated that men do not have the last say in the home, and they do not have the right to abuse their wives, no matter what their culture dictates. Currently, there is a great need for social workers that speak Asian languages and dialects. Because there are few workers who can help native women, and so, the problem is exacerbated in the Asian-American community because there are few resources available for women to help themselves. More programs need to be developed with the Asian woman in mind. In addition, more research needs to be done into the causes of Asian-American violence and abuse, and researchers need to discover the unique dynamics in Asian-American relationships and culture that lead to abuse in the first place. If educators can then educate Asian-American women what to look for, and what to avoid in their relationships, then abuse may decline, and the cycle of continued abuse that runs in families may come to a stop. Asian-American children also have an influence in the home, and there should be educational programs in school that teach children about abuse in the home, and how to reach out to social workers and family centers for help.
Asian culture often creates barriers for women to stand up for themselves, but these barriers must be removed to create a better environment for Asian-American women everywhere. There are certain dynamics present in almost all abusive relationships, and if more women could understand these dynamics, they might be better able to avoid abuse or remove themselves from abusive relationships. Asian cultural barriers do not have to mean that women must take abuse. If women are to break the cycle of abuse, many researchers believe that Asian-American women must be able to see themselves as victims, and understand that abuse is wrong. Husbands do not have the "right" to abuse their wives, no matter what. There are many ways to help women stand up from themselves, but if these problems are not addressed, more women will become abused wives, and more children will continue the cycle in their own relationships.
The attitudes of Asian-American women must change, and this is difficult for Asian-American men. Often, male immigrants have their own issues when they move to the United States. They may be facing economic difficulties that force the wife to work. While women may find this liberating, men may find this threatening to their domination and masculinity. Men may feel they lack control in this new world that empowers women, and so, they may abuse…[continue]
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