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OVW Proudly Stands with AANHPI Communities in the Pursuit of Safety and Justice

As May draws to a close and we move into June, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) continues to honor the richness of the cultures, distinctive histories and influential contributions of the Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community. As President Biden proclaimed, “Throughout our history, they have represented the bigger story of who we are as Americans and embodied the truth that our diversity is our strength as a nation.”

The celebration of AANHPI communities should not only be about recognition, but also about reflection and action. As we continue our pursuit of safety and justice for all communities, we draw from the lessons given by AANHPI civil rights activists like Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama, whose courage and commitment to justice continue to inspire Americans from all walks of life.

OVW’s mission is to keep communities safe from domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. However, this cannot be accomplished without our AANHPI leaders and grantees, who work tirelessly to provide culturally specific services. They help us fulfill our mission by meeting the needs of all survivors, especially those who have been historically marginalized by systemic barriers and whom mainstream service providers are unable to reach. 

Our AANHPI grantees work at the intersection of multiple issues of race, gender and class to address the unique experiences, cultural contexts and challenges faced by the AANHPI survivors. This includes providing culturally sensitive and language-specific services, raising awareness about violence against AANHPI women within the community and broader society and advocating for survivors of violence within unfriendly systems that do not recognize or adequately address their specific needs.

As we celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month and the progress made by culturally specific service providers, we cannot forget that the last three years have been tremendously difficult for many AANHPI communities across the nation. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought an untenable surge of anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes. Misinformation and xenophobic rhetoric fostered an environment of fear and discrimination, which unfairly scapegoated the AANHPI community for the global health crisis. The FBI reported hate crimes against Asians more than doubled between 2019 and 2021and hate crimes against women increased by 25%. For our AANHPI grantees, these dual trends underscore the precarious intersection of racism and misogyny that they must navigate when serving survivors of gender-based violence.

AANHPI communities have a diverse array of strengths; however, the lack of sufficiently responsive services by mainstream providers leaves many survivors of violence facing numerous challenges. These may include language barriers, unaddressed mental health concerns and crucially, insufficient access to educational and economic resources that can trap many survivors in abusive relationships. Additionally, survivors face unique cultural barriers that may cause them to abstain from reporting gender-based violence to preserve community honor. OVW’s AANHPI grantees are critical to prevent these harms.

Understanding the varied needs and experiences of AANHPI survivors is a complex challenge. The diverse communities comprise over 50 ethnic groups that speak more than 100 languages. One-size-fits-all approaches fail to address the unique experiences and challenges faced by different AANHPI communities. Therefore, culturally and linguistically relevant services are necessary to ensure justice for all communities. Like many of our grantees, AANHPI serving organizations are often the first point of contact for victims seeking help and they are lifelines that offer culturally relevant support, fit to the experiences of the communities they serve. Their work is not only reactive by providing shelter and counseling services, but also proactive, as they engage in community outreach, prevention programs, and policy advocacy.

The list of AANHPI resources below is not exhaustive, nor is it representative of the tapestry of service providers across the United States.

  • The Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence is a national resource center on domestic violence, sexual violence, trafficking, and other forms of gender-based violence in the AANHPI community. 
  • The work of the National Organization of API Ending Sexual Violence (NAPIESV) centers on AAPI survivors. Healing from trauma is the goal of sexual assault survivors, so the NAPIESV provides crucial, culturally relevant healing and wellness practices for survivors from the AAPI community.
  • In Georgia, Raksha aims to provide healing, empowerment, and justice for survivors of violence, and it works on anti-Asian hate in the context of gender-based violence.
  • In Illinois, KAN-WIN provides culturally competent services, community engagement, and advocacy for women and children across Asian American communities and beyond. The organization’s mission is to end gender-based violence and to ensure that historically marginalized groups can reach their full potential.
  • SEWA-AIFW is a non-profit organization that supports the South Asian community in Minneapolis. It provides access to health care and family violence resources, wellness information and resources, and elder socialization activities. It uses OVW funding to engage with the community through multiple programs, including book clubs and programs for elders and the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Asian Family Support Services of Austin, or AFSSA, supports Asian and other immigrant families that are dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking in central Texas. With OVW funding, AFSSA provides phone support, referrals, and system advocacy to all parts of Texas and outside of the state for those who cannot access similar services within their local jurisdiction.
  • Asian Women’s Shelter in California works to end domestic violence by promoting the social, economic, and political self-determination of women and all survivors of violence and oppression. It supports culturally grounded and language-accessible crisis lines, emergency shelter, transitional housing, community engagement and violence prevention programs, training and education programs, systems and policy advocacy, and cultural change initiatives.

We are honored to spotlight the work of our AANHPI grantees. Like the communities they serve, their diversity is a source of tremendous strength and vibrancy and contributes immeasurably to the fabric of American society.

To learn more about OVW’s culturally specific programs, please visit our website.

Updated June 1, 2023

Civil Rights