What If This Happened To You?

Domestic violence can be a difficult subject to talk about when you don’t know the audience very well. But what if I showed you a story of someone who looks like you or someone you love?

Visual storytelling can be a powerful way to break through some barriers that currently exist in many communities and in particular API communities when it comes to talking about domestic violence or sexual assault (DV/SA).

CPAF’s hope is to produce a collection of stories featuring survivors from various Asian and Pacific Islander (API) backgrounds. We plan to share these stories with the hope that the audience can identify with the survivor and develop a stronger personal conviction to help end DV/SA in their community. We also hope the videos will serve as empowering tools for other survivors, leading them to seek help or to share their personal journeys as well.

We are currently seeking API survivors to be featured for the upcoming Survivor Series episodes. Please contact us if you feel led to share your story with others in this way.

-Christine Lee

CPAF Thanks Bank of America for Support in Helping Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

CPAF is thankful for Bank of America’s partnership to help us meet the critical needs of the individuals and families we serve.

Leaders from Bank of America’s Asian Leadership Network – Southern California visited CPAF this summer as part of a continued partnership with the organization.

This summer, Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF) received a $10,000 economic mobility grant from Bank of America to sustain and enhance our services for low-income, homeless survivors of domestic and sexual violence. CPAF is thankful for Bank of America’s partnership to help us meet the critical needs of the individuals and families we serve. This support helps CPAF respond to the needs of survivors who have difficulty obtaining jobs due to limited English, or lack of résumé writing skills or community connections due to years of isolation and abuse:

• More than 1.4 million Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) reside in Los Angeles County. 1 out of 2 API immigrant women have been physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abused, and they are the least likely to report abuse or access services, facing multiple barriers.
• At CPAF, we help survivors increase their economic resources and establish safer homes for themselves and their children.
• Our staff and volunteers provide coaching for financial literacy, budgeting and job seeking in languages such as Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese.

We look forward to partnering further with Bank of America to build healthy and safe communities and nurture change together.

CPAF is here to help those seeking refuge from domestic violence and sexual assault through our 24-hour confidential hotline: 1-800-339-3940. CPAF’s mission is to build healthy and safe communities by addressing the root causes and consequences of family violence and violence against women. CPAF is committed to meeting the specific cultural and language needs of Asian and Pacific Islander women and their children.

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.




CPAF attends “Engaging Boys and Men Conference” featuring Dr. Jackson Katz

On Tuesday June 20th, CPAF staff attended the “Engaging Boys and Men Conference” hosted by House of Ruth and featuring author, filmmaker, and educator Dr. Jackson Katz. The goal of the conference was to address the need to engage men and boys in the fight to end domestic and other forms of violence.

Katz’ main point was that men’s violence against women not only hurts women, but also hurts men – including boys who grow up in households with domestic violence. While men are more often the perpetrators of gender violence, they are also the victims – however, men are often absent when addressing the issue of intimate partner violence.

Katz posed the need to hold individuals accountable for their actions while simultaneously confronting the attitudes that underpin social systems excusing men’s use of violence against women.

The conference provided interesting learning points for CPAF as we continue working with boys and men in our prevention and intervention work.

Interactive Art featuring CPAF Survivors – Opening Reception, June 11

A collaborative mural created by survivors of 11 agencies in Los Angeles. (Click here for a closer look at CPAF’s panel.)

Over the many years, CPAF has been fortunate to partner with A Window Between Worlds (AWBW), a local agency committed to helping empower survivors through artistic expression.  This partnership has provided our clients countless opportunities to process the trauma they experience and help them on the journey to transitioning into a life free from intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

In the past year, CPAF was invited to join in a 2-year AWBW art initiative entitled “At the Core: Transforming Trauma Together”.  The first year consisted of creating a collaborative mural created by clients of 11 LA County agencies, and was led by AWBW Artist-in-Residence Fabian Debora, who conceptualized and created the design of the overall piece. Each of the 11 agencies was given a section of the mural to paint and decorate around a central theme that each agency generated for its community. For CPAF’s Transitional Shelter residents who participated in this project, the central theme was “What does healing look like in the context of our culture?” The process of creating the art piece served as an invaluable opportunity to share their struggles and to deepen understanding and connection among the shelter’s families.  The resulting artwork became a dynamic expression of their persevering hope and optimism. We at CPAF are so honored and proud to provide our contribution to AWBW’s art initiative. We would like to invite you to come view the final artwork which will be displayed at the San Fernando Valley Arts and Cultural Center. Details are below:

At The Core: Transforming Trauma Together
Opening Reception: Sunday, June 11th  2-5pm
Exhibition runs from June 7th through June 24th.

San Fernando Valley Arts and Cultural Center
18312 Oxnard St.
Tarzana, CA 91356
For information on parking, click here.

Statewide Training Held on How to Be Culturally Responsive

The Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF) helped launch a pilot training series to help strengthen cultural responsiveness practices across California. As an organization that has been dedicated to helping Asian and Pacific Islander survivors facing cultural and linguistic barriers, it was a fitting task for CPAF to partner with other agencies in a joint mission to eliminate all forms of violence.

MYLAR Training in Petaluma, CA
Photos Courtesy of Everyday Impact Consulting

Six organizations met in January 2017 to collaborate on an unprecedented model of learning. Since then, the group has been traveling across the state to bring together service providers in an effort to increase access to victim services. This project, known as the MYLAR (Multi-Year Language Access Resources) Collaborative, is being led by My Sister’s House and Everyday Impact Consulting. Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence (API-GBV), Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF), Korean American Family Services (KFAM) and Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) round out the group.

This exercise is called Blanketed By Blame and is designed to help participants see the structures that can cause harm and how they can be different

The training location alternates each month from NorCal to SoCal to cities in between. Adopting a diversity framework, enhancing leadership/budget strategies, and increasing language access at each workplace are examples of what participants learn in reference to serving victims of crime more effectively throughout the state.

The MYLAR training includes many styles of learning. Session three is a panel discussion on budgeting and staffing for cultural responsiveness

The training is free and open to any organization or government/social service agency that is willing to reflect on its current practices and be open to making necessary improvements to better serve its population. Post-training technical assistance can also be provided. 

Here is the current list for upcoming dates and regions:

8/24/2017 (Thursday) – Alameda / Contra Costa

8/25/2017 (Friday) – San Jose

9/14/2017 (Thursday) – Bakersfield

9/15/2017 (Friday) – Fresno

11/2/2017 (Thursday) – Ontario / Riverside

12/8/2017 (Friday) – San Diego

1/25/2018 (Thursday) – Chico

1/26/2018 (Friday) – Sacramento

To RSVP, please email Sherrie Calibo at sherrie@everydayimpactconsulting.com.

This project is made possible by the California Office of Emergency Services and the Office for Victims of Crime.

This blog was written by Christine Lee, CPAF’s Community Engagement Manager

Why I Love Mom – Special Blog for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Throughout the month of May, we are encouraging readers to take a moment to reflect on the mothers or mother-like figures in their lives. May also happens to be a special month celebrating Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States, so we thought it was the perfect opportunity to share a few stories from the CPAF staff to get you started in thinking about your own relationships. Here are a few prompts that you can think about as you get started on your journey of gratitude.

Anna Lee, Development Coordinator

Anna Lee and her mom, Jane Lee

Why I Love My Mom:

“My mom is my rock, though I haven’t always seen it that way. I am truly blessed with the family I have, and a strong mother whom I choose to turn to when I need guidance or solid, foundational advice.

Mama Lee is smart – she’s quick to calculate, and it’s hard to get anything past her. In that way, I guess she ingrained in me the horrible feeling of lying and why I avoid it today.

Mrs. Lee is hands on – before calling a technician, she’ll troubleshoot the problem herself, and if she needs a professional to do it, she’ll call them, but she’ll know the problem and solution better than they do 80% of the time. Again, nothing gets past this woman. She’s taught me to take initiative.

She’s definitely more firm than gentle. When I sought sympathy, she’d call me out on the real problem instead – keeping me in check, and being real always. She taught me not to pity myself or seek pity from others; she taught me to admit my wrongs and be stronger for it.

Oh, and she’s 5 feet. That just makes all the above that much more entertaining. What’s not to love?”

What I Learned from Mom on Being Asian American:

“Growing up, being Asian was never directly pointed out or discussed in my family. I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian community, and never really thought too much about being Asian. Even when I brought purple rice to school for lunch in 5th grade, questions were asked, but I wasn’t phased. I maybe felt weird a couple times when I would wear shoes INSIDE the house of some of my friends.

I think the more impressionable discussions come from very recent times, when my mom talks about her mom and family – about how they were impacted by the Korean War, and the hardships that stem from a patriarchal society where the man is respected and the woman isn’t, especially the daughter-in-laws of families. My grandmother has lived a tough life with a lot of unfortunate and scarring events, to say the least. When I asked my mom how she and her siblings all turned out to be fairly healthy and “okay” even with such a traumatic past between their parents, she responded, “‘It’s because of your grandmother. Her strength. Her love. That is why the mother is so important.'”

Christine Lee, Community Engagement Manager

Christine Lee and her mother Kyong Lee. Courtesy Pat Shannahan, The Arizona Republic

Why I Love My Mom:

“My mom brought me up with a lot of love in a country that was foreign to her.

She was a single mother, and she raised me without a dad but gave me a loving family atmosphere despite that with three aunts and a pair of grandparents.

My mom sacrificed a lot of things in life, like her career, to make sure that I have the best chance of success living in America.”

What I Learned from Mom on Being Asian American:

“My mom taught me about hard work and perseverance.

She made sure I was well-rounded (playing piano and violin; taking ice skating and swimming lessons; going to Kumon and other tutoring services) so that I can get into a good college and live a life she couldn’t live.

My mom told me that she gave up being a nurse when she immigrated to America during the 1970s. The language barrier was too difficult for her to overcome, so she started a small business then made her way into becoming a government employee.

My mom wanted me to be a doctor or engineer like many other Asian moms, but she compromised when she learned that I really wanted to become a storyteller. She believed in my desire to do something other than what she had hoped for and has been supporting me ever since.”

Michelle Esperanza, Development Director

Michelle Esperanza, Development Director at CPAF

Why I Love My Mom:

“My mom is pure love. She is kind, thoughtful and caring about her family and community. She is an inspiration.”

What I Learned from Mom on Being Asian American:

“Mom came here as a child when her father, who served in the U.S. Navy, moved his family here. She lived in Florida in the late 1950s – where people stared at them openly, came out of their shops to ask where they were from – and California in the 1960s. She continues to lives her life with grace each day and celebrates Filipino family traditions while incorporating elements from her life as an American.”

Ellen Hong, Community Program Director

Ellen Hong, Her Two Daughters, and Her Mother Li-Shun Huang Hong

Why I Love My Mom:

“My mom is one of the most humorous, compassionate, nurturing and humble people I know.  As a Taiwanese immigrant, she and my father pastored a small Taiwanese church.  When my mom wasn’t working or taking care of our family, she spent a lot of time visiting parishioners, particularly those who were ill or elderly.  I recall a particular woman named Peggy who was diagnosed with cancer whom my mom visited on a weekly basis.  As busy as my mom was, she would cook for Peggy and bring her chicken soup with special Taiwanese herbs.  Not realizing it at the time, these visits gave me a window into my mom’s love and compassion as an outward expression of her faith, which has left a lasting impact on me.

As a mom of two girls now, I also hope to instill values of love and compassion in my children the same way that my mom instilled that in me, through her actions and her words.”

What I Learned from Mom on Being Asian American:

“My mom has always taken pride in being Taiwanese, but she is also incredibly open when it comes to those who hold differing world views.  Her humility is evinced in the way that she actively gleans and learns from others’ perspectives.  While she has faced the struggles common to many immigrants, she also doesn’t see herself as a victim.  Rather, she boldly engages and looks for opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences. She is the lifelong learner that I hope to be.”

How to teach young people about sexual assault?

Use current day events as an opportunity to foster critical thinking and discussion

Two weeks before Denim Day on April 26th 2017, four of CPAF prevention youth leaders led a discussion on the controversial court case that lay the foundation for Denim Day with their peers and adult allies at Alhambra High School. CPAF’s youth leaders explained the actual court case and facilitated a discussion on whether the court’s ruling was fair or not.

Statistic: 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted at one point in their life (nsvrc.org)

For those who were unfamiliar with the case, CPAF youth leaders shared that in 1999, an 18 year old girl in Italy was learning how to drive when her 45-year old instructor drove her to an isolated spot, forced her to get out, and raped her. This crime against the girl eventually got the attention of the highest court in Italy. In the end, the court ruled that the girl could not be raped since she was wearing tight jeans, as the girl must have given her consent if they were taken off.

The discussion on the court case ended up leading to a larger discussion on sexual assault of women in our society. Students wondered why women tend to be blamed for causing the assault because of what they were wearing or how they were acting while men were not as often held accountable for their actions. This point led one student to ask why at their high school there are more campus policies regulating what girls can wear compared to what boys can wear.

One student shared that if this case happened in the present day, the judge probably would rule in favor of the girl, which resulted in other students sharing about recent cases that proved otherwise- including the Brock Turner case and the case of Emma Sulkowicz, who carried her mattress around Columbia University until her rapist was removed.

In the end, we concluded that our aim wasn’t to attack any particular group, but that we wanted to come together to fight for what is right so everyone can be better off.

Discussions like these can give young people the space to share their perspectives and learn together- and ultimately, help change the narrative to re-shape norms and beliefs we hold around sexual assault.

Guest Blog for SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month)

Guest blogger Nina is a Junior at Westridge School for Girls

Nina, on the left, and her friend Therese were a part of CPAF’s API Youth Forum in 2016

I learned more than an average teenager would about domestic violence and sexual assault as one of CPAF’s Youth Leadership pilot program participants. I took CPAF’s 65-hour training and volunteered last two summers at CPAF’s emergency and transitional shelters. As I’m preparing to go to college, I became increasingly aware of how prevalent sexual assault is across the country. Studies show that one in five women are sexually assaulted during college, which means that I or a friend will become a target too.

I began researching how different universities respond to sexual violence, and I wanted to share these resources with those who may also be looking for a safe campus to call their home-away-from home for the next few years.

Who to ask: These groups and organizations should be most knowledgeable on this topic.

  • Student Advocacy Groups or Student Peer Counselors: Many colleges have them, and they should be able to provide the most accurate information on how the administration treats the students who are sexually assaulted, and the students who assaulted them.
  • Title IX Officers/Coordinators: Since 2011, colleges are required to have a Title IX Officer/Coordinator who takes reports, investigates allegations, and adjudicates sexual assault cases. They also educate the campus community about sexual assault via prevention programs.
  • Counseling/Health/Violence Prevention Center: Most colleges will have one or more of these.

What to ask: These are some basic questions students and parents can ask when visiting campuses.

  • Are there any trainings during orientation that address sexual assault awareness or prevention?
  • How does this school react to sexual assault cases?
  • How does this campus support victims of sexual assault?
  • Are there policies that hold sexual assault perpetrators accountable?
  • Has this campus ever been investigated for violating Title IX?
  • Can you tell me how to access your school’s Clery Report? (The Clery Act is a federal law requiring all colleges participating in federal student aid programs to disclose crime statistics and summaries of security policies every year.)

Keep in mind:

Colleges don’t want to be known for having high levels of sexual assault, so they may underreport. In these cases, do your own research (search local news reports, police logs, etc.)

Special thanks to Daren Mooko, the Title IX Coordinator at Pomona College, for his guidance.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and CPAF’s Volunteer Coordinator Elizabeth Denny took this picture of the Clothesline Project while tabling at UCLA

Call Your Congressional Representative: Support Funding for Programs for Domestic Violence Survivors

According to the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV), twenty-six California members of Congress signed on in support of Violence Against Women Act and Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (VAWA & FVPSA) funding, and thirteen signed on in support of Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding. Here is a link to CPEDV’s list of signers and you may look up your congressional representative here.

We encourage you to call your member of Congress and thank them for their support; and if they did not sign on, feel free to call them to ask them to support this important funding.

Below is a sample phone script (courtesy of CPEDV) to call members of Congress who signed onto VAWA and VOCA Letters; feel free to adapt the areas as needed for your member of Congress.


To thank your member of Congress for supporting funding for programs for domestic violence survivors:

  • Hello, on behalf of Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF), I want to thank the Congresswoman/Congressman for signing on to the “Dear Colleague” letters in support of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) & Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) funding, [as well as the letter in support of Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds].
  • As you know, these funding sources provide foundational, essential funding to support programs serving survivors of domestic violence in the district and all across California and the country.
  • We deeply appreciate the Congresswoman/Congressman support for this funding in the Fiscal Year 18 Appropriations bills. Thank you.


To ask your member of Congress to support funding for programs for domestic violence survivors:

  • Hello, on behalf of Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF), I want to thank the Congresswoman/Congressman for signing on to the “Dear Colleague” letters in support of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) & Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) funding, [as well as the letter in support of Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds].
  • As you know, these funding sources provide foundational, essential funding to support programs serving survivors of domestic violence in the district and all across California and the country.
  • We would deeply appreciate the Congresswoman’s/Congressman’s support for this funding in the Fiscal Year 18 Appropriations bills. Thank you.

Thank you for your support! CHANGE INVOLVES YOU.