Asian Services In Action, Inc. (ASIA) Helps Refugee Women Domestic Abuse Victims

Asian Services in Action, Inc. Reaches out to Immigrant and Refugee Women Dealing with Domestic Abuse 

Northeast Ohio, continuing a proud history, welcomes refugees and immigrants from around the world. Yet, as anyone moving to a new neighborhood, a new school, a new job, a new city knows, such transitions are challenging and stressful. Now, imagine that stress compounded by having to flee your home because of civil unrest or religious persecution or political chaos, arriving at your new home and not having any friends, and, on top of it all, not being able to speak the language that everyone else around you speaks.

Asian Services in Action, Inc. (ASIA) offers a variety of classes to assist newly arrived immigrants and refugees with help to ease that transition. Some of the services it offers are English language classes; parenting classes; citizenship classes; and self-sufficiency classes.

In spite of these services, however, the stress that many immigrants experience can be even worse for the women. Most speak no English and must rely on their children and spouses to be their only gateway to the wider community. This isolation makes immigrant and refugee women especially vulnerable to domestic violence, especially if they belong to communities where a strong stigma surrounds such issues.

For these reasons, ASIA has developed a Domestic Violence program for women who find themselves in a violent relationship. Any woman who contacts ASIA will be given confidential and free services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, regardless of country of origin or nationality. In 2017, for example, ASIA assisted women who were Jordanian, American, Nepali, Bangladeshi, Saudi Arabian, Taiwanese, Moroccan, Iraqi, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Burmese, and Bhutanese. ASIA helps these women find safe housing, legal and medical assistance, financial planning, as well as counseling and support.

Though ASIA is able to help many women, not every story has a happy outcome. A particularly gruesome tragedy impacted the people at ASIA last year when media reports surfaced of a Chinese woman who was found dead in her apartment. In July 2017, Qihong Chen was decapitated, allegedly by a man she was in a relationship with. She had been receiving help from ASIA before her death.

According to Kitty Leung, Senior Manager of Children, Youth, and Family Services Department, one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome is the difference in cultural values and expectations for women. In some communities, women are not allowed much independence or choice. They have little control over their own finances or their own futures. Often, they may not have the family support network here to be able to make the right decisions for themselves or to understand what a healthy relationship is.

For these reasons, Leung believes that combatting domestic violence must also involve all members of the community. She leads a Bystander Intervention program that elevates awareness in the community at large of the many behaviors that constitute domestic violence. In addition to identifying unacceptable behavior, the program also teaches people about the resources that bystanders can go to when they witness instances of domestic violence. By reaching out not only to victims and perpetrators but also to their family, friends, and neighbors, Leung hopes that she can help the people who want to help but don’t know how. And that she will never again read about a horrible tragedy like what happened to Qihong.

For free and confidential assistance with domestic violence issues, please call (216)369-7616 or contact Kitty Leung at

Joon-Li Kim

Joon-Li Kim is a freelance writer and editor. Most recently she edited and ghostwrote portions of My Iran: Memories, Mysteries, Myths, 2nd ed., 2015.

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Volume 14, Issue 14, Posted 5:57 PM, 07.17.2018