Domestic violence is a difficult subject to bring up and talk about for many families. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that one out of four women and one out of ten men face abuse from an intimate partner or spouse. Reports point to a dramatic rise in domestic violence since the start of COVID-19. Experts in the field discuss prevention, and reconciliation programs that engage abusers as well as survivors, children and immigrant households who are in abusive households.
Reverend Aleese Moore-Orbih, executive director of California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, who has over 15 years of experience in family violence advocacy. Moore-Orbih explains: “Some see domestic violence as a personal issue, but it is actually a societal problem. Domestic violence isn’t part of the conversation, like drug trafficking, human trafficking and other issues that are considered societal. There’s a question of if involving the criminal justice system is a relevant response to domestic violence, and the resounding answer is no, it hasn’t been and why would it be in the future. What law enforcement was designed for has nothing to do with domestic violence.”
Monica Khant, executive director of the Atlanta-based Asian pacific Institute on Gender-based violence. She received she J.D. from the New England School of Law in 1998. Currently serves on the board of directors at the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (GCDAV). Khant explains: “I’ve spent 20 years as an immigration attorney. We provided legal services for victims of domestic violence. A lot of my experience comes from serving people firsthand and seeing what nuances the immigrant community experiences in domestic violence cases. We’ve also heard from organizations that serve the AAPI community that it has been harder for survivors of domestic violence to reach out for help, since they are in quarantine and in the same household as their abuser. Accessing information has been challenging for them as well, since
some immigrants do not have the same tech access others have. Many immigrants work in the service industry and being without work has led to higher dependence on one partner, which may increase stress in the home. Financial dependence is a factor that can lead to increases in the likelihood of domestic violence survivors not being able to leave. Some are not eligible for unemployment benefits since they do not have permission to work in this country. The services that have increased are food and housing. Many non-profit foundations have been providing housing relief funding which has been a huge help for survivors.”
Tina Rodriguez is the Restorative Justice Practitioner and Board President of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, adds: “Regarding prevention of domestic violence, I think the offender and the victim should both be involved in the process. And there has to be some cultural accountability. The reason I say cultural accountability is because we need to stop being codependent in more ways than one. We rely on education for domestic violence prevention from systems that have helped create pain. We need to hold ourselves accountable for educating our sons and daughters. If I look up prevention models online, for example, none will talk about the social roles men are expected to fulfill, as being the main provider in the household. No one talks about the pressure if you are a Black man and get screened out five jobs your interviewed for and are qualified for. Same for Latino men, there is an expectation to not fund only our family here but our family in Mexico as well, but the pressure and trauma from being in that situation added to the violent impulses, like it did in my story and many others.”
Jerry Tello is the founder of Training & Capacity Building at the National Compadres Network. Over the last forty years, Tello has dedicated his efforts to “La Cultura Cura” or efforts addressing systems and community transformational healing and has served as a principal consultant on Scholastic Books focused on reaching low-income families. Tello explains:
“I grew up in a Black and brown neighborhood. I grew up in a society seeing how the people closest to me were mistreated. Like many other men in my neighborhood, I learned feelings would make you vulnerable. I forgot how to cry and kept all the grief and trauma I experienced inside. As I got older, I learned how heal again and I helped others on learning how to feel. I believe communities have their own healing powers in itself, and we can all help one another by healing generations to come.”