The Invisible Among the Invisible

Lianne was 17 years-old when her parents sent her off to live with her uncle in California. They hoped that the Korean teenager could have a chance at a better future by immigrating to the United States

A tragic car crash one night killed Lianne’s uncle suddenly, leaving the then 18-year-old alone and afraid. Lianne became undocumented and resorted to working at a Los Angeles-area restaurant for less than the minimum wage.

According to the American Community Survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2014, an estimated 1 million undocumented immigrants reside in Los Angeles County

Seeking company, she took to online dating and met Ashley. Lianne did not tell her family that she identified as queer, and this was the first time she openly sought a same-sex relationship online.

A 2013 study by The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law shows that more than 40,000 adult API immigrants identify as LGBTQ

Lianne moved in with Ashley after three months of dating. Soon after, she noticed that Ashley became controlling. Ashley constantly asked Lianne where she was going and often accused her of cheating. Ashley proceeded to pinch and slap Lianne when she became upset. When Lianne attempted to leave, Ashley threatened to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport her. Lianne sought help from her friends, but they dismissed her by saying that it was no big deal. Lianne felt discouraged and decided that there was no other choice but to stay in this abusive relationship.

Lianne, whose name has been changed to preserve her anonymity, is an example of a domestic violence survivor who is caught in the unique intersection of being both an immigrant and a queer individual. As we wrap up Immigrant Heritage Month and Pride Month in June, CPAF recognizes this special and unique population who may not have the privilege of speak out freely and safely when it comes to domestic violence and sexual assault (DV/SA). The more intersecting identities a person has, the more vulnerable they become.

Our sister agency Asian Women’s Shelter (AWS) in San Francisco has a Queer Asian Women and Transgender Support (QAWTS) program that provides comprehensive services for queer survivors of violence

Immigrant survivors of domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault (SA) make up the majority of the clientele at the Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF). Last year, CPAF received more than 3800 hotline calls in 18 different languages. Additionally, CPAF housed more than 100 survivors and their children in our shelters. Although CPAF has not seen many clients identifying as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ), CPAF is here to help everyone seeking refuge from domestic violence and sexual assault via its 24-hour confidential hotline: 1-800-339-3940.




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