“It’s a challenge to navigate the system as a victim. There are several barriers women in the South Asian community face: the lack of information, the lack of awareness that help is out there and understanding that it is okay to reach out.
I’m currently separated from my husband and in the process of getting a divorce, but when I was experiencing domestic violence, my biggest challenge was not getting immediate community support. It was so difficult to escape the violence I was experiencing—and that my two children were witnessing—because I felt like I had no one to turn to.
In our culture, the issue of domestic violence is very personal. It is seen as a failure on the part of a family and is shrouded deeply in the stigma of shame. It remains taboo for us to ask for help, because it’s seen as a personal failure. We’re not encouraged to step out of the boundaries that have been created by our culture.
But the key to fighting these cultural stigmas and barriers is awareness. I have been working with a United Way-funded organization for five years. It provides a safe space for these women to come and reach out for help.