This past Thursday, June 11, 2009, Peripheral Blur hosted the event “Silent No More” at Stargate Night Club. The event featured some of the best artists in the Hmong Community today, but there was more to the event than just partying. The event put the spotlight on domestic violence.
Domestic violence is defined as the continuing crime and problem of the physical beating of a wife, girlfriend or children, usually by the woman’s male partner (although it can also be female violence against a male). This should also include when a person is continually demeaned by his/her partner through words on a constant basis, which results in that person feeling less than their worth.
Talking about domestic violence often makes people feel uncomfortable, as if it’s a taboo topic. We’ve either witnessed it, been a victim, know a victim, or maybe you’re the perpetrator of the violence yourself, but that needs to change. There are people out there losing their lives, because no one had the courage to step in and help them, or no one knew that it was going on because the victim didn’t tell anybody out of fear of further retribution.
Unfortunately, domestic violence is more common than any of us would like it to admit. We need to know that it can be talked about. If you are victim, come forward and get yourself the help you deserve. No one deserves to be someone else’s punching bag. Whether you want help getting out of the relationship or getting help for the person who is using you as their stress relief, all you need to do is speak up. Do not silence yourself. Your life and the lives of your children, if you have any, depend on it.
There isn’t a specific profile on the type of person who perpetuates domestic violence. I’ll give you an example. I used to work for the Saint Paul Parks & Recreation. During my time with the city, I worked at Desnoyer Park Recreation Center. There was a Hmong family that spent a lot of time there. They were all great to hang out with and get to know. When they moved, I was disappointed because I enjoyed their company. The little brother was hilarious. Fast forward to July, 2004 and I see on the news that a young man stabbed his wife 63 times, killing her. He fled to Illinois and was caught when he tried to get an escort. His name was Moua Her and his wife was Sheng Vang—a life taken too soon.
Apparently they had problems during their marriage and there was a pattern of abuse. She did the right thing by deciding she didn’t want to be a part of that relationship any longer. It seems that he couldn’t handle that and ended up killing her. I never had the pleasure of meeting her when they lived near Desnoyer, but I’m sure she was a wonderful person.
I would have never thought he was “that type” to be like that, but it goes to show that you just never know. He was an awesome big brother to his siblings, was a good student, and an all around nice guy, when I knew him. I’m not sure what changed, but something in him snapped.
Recently the topic of domestic violence made national headlines when Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna prior to the Grammy Awards. I don’t care what caused this to happen, because I’ve seen the pictures and there isn’t any excuse good enough. If anything good came out of this it was that it gave teachers, parents, etc an open forum to discuss this with their kids/students. Hopefully everyone can learn from it.
There are too many examples of these types of incidents, not only in the Hmong Community, but in the United States, as well as all around the world. This needs to stop. Violent behavior is learned and breeds more violent behavior. It’s on all of us to put a squash to this type of conduct.
If you are victim, please get yourself help. If you are the one doing the hitting, it’s not too late to get the help you need. This behavior can be changed if you want it to. It’s up to you to make that call.
If you witness this type of behavior, you need to speak up and or step in to help out. No one is saying you have to be a superhero, but a simple phone call is all it takes. It’s like the lyrics in the song “How Come, How Long” by Babyface & Stevie Wonder, which goes on to say:
How come, how long?
It’s not right, it’s so wrong.
Do we let it just go on?
Turn our backs and carry on?
Wake up, it’s too late,
Right now, we can’t wait.
She won’t have a second try,
Open up your hearts,
As well as your eyes.
She tried to give a cry for help,
She even blamed things on herself
But no one came to her aid.
‘Nothing was wrong as far as we could tell’,
That’s what we’d like to tell ourselves
If you are victim of domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or if in eminent danger, call 911.
If you have any questions or comments about this article, you can leave comments here or email me at RyanM@hmoodle.com (Ryan Madland)