Cultural Barriers May Prevent API Sexual Violence Survivors from Seeking Help
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, and according to the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, the number of Asian American women who have experienced sexual violence could be as high as 55%.
Monicah Yonghang, bilingual advocate with Asian Services in Action Ohio, explained various cultural barriers prevent many API survivors, including immigrants and refugees, from reporting sexual violence and accessing services.
"We also noticed that they internalized a traditional gender norms," Yonghang pointed out. "Meaning that the men have more power over women, and some violence against women are just justified and OK."
The Immigrant and Refugee Ohio Coalition to End Sexual Assault hosts a conference May 26 on sexual violence and the best ways to serve communities and survivors.
Leela Karki, another bilingual advocate with Asian Services in Action Ohio, noted concerns about public shame also factor into women's hesitancy to seek help.
"There is a fear that oh, if I get added to that data, like other people, I'm going to be exposed to other people," Karki stressed. "They're gonna find out that it happened to me because the community itself is so intertwined together."
Taylr Ucker-Lauderman, chief officer of communications and engagement for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, said it is important for advocacy groups to take into account specific cultural needs when providing services.
"We find it extremely important to uplift the work and voices of those in various cultures, and especially people of color in the immigrants and refugees," Ucker-Lauderman emphasized. "We believe this is truly integral to ending sexual violence and serving survivors in our state."
Research shows sexual assault has many long-term impacts on women, including increased risk of chronic pain, diabetes, depression, suicide, and substance abuse.
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