|Hmong working on improving domestic violence response|
Published October 14 2010
A new initiative aims to change how Hmong leaders handle domestic violence cases in their communities.
A new initiative aims to change how Hmong leaders handle domestic violence cases in their communities. Supporters say their current approach is too dated and narrow.
Women’s advocates say while the Hmong don’t suffer domestic violence or sexual assault any more than other groups, many cases go unreported. That’s because a Hmong victim who calls police or a women’s shelter for help is often seen as disrespecting their clan, and may be ostracized.
Mao Khang works with Hmong cases for Women’s Community Victim Services in Wausau. She’s helped form a special committee that’ll work with Wisconsin’s 18 Hmong clans, to be more receptive to domestic violence cases.
Khang says current clan attitudes are “old school”, and limited to thinking of abuse claims just in physical terms. She says when clan leaders talk to an abuse victim, they’ll ask if they’ve been hit or slapped by their spouse or love. If not, they’ll send her back, encouraging her to be patient.
“People don’t understand that screaming, yelling, verbal and mental abuse leads to physical abuse and even murder,” says Khang. She says in recent years, there have been several disturbing cases of domestic squabbles escalating into violence.
Khang says she hopes clan leaders will learn intervention and mediation skills, and take on a more active role in working with the legal system and counseling services.
Famed Hmong leader General Vang Pao backs the effort.