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Analysis of the Problem and Our Work

Within the history of the movement to end violence against women, sexual violence has historically been marginalized in favor of domestic violence; although both fights are ongoing and worthy of our support, general support for survivors of sexual assault pales in comparison to the support for survivors of domestic violence. Shelters for domestic violence victims are numerous compared to sexual assault crisis centers. In addition, programs serving sexual assault victims find little financial and public support unless also serving domestic violence victims.

The trend in Asian Pacific Islander communities in the United States is similar to mainstream communities – programs and services that address domestic violence are more numerous compared to those that address sexual assault. Yet, the number of sexual assault victims and the complexity of the abuse are significant for API women and girls. Sexual violence is especially difficult to confront or discuss –because of on the part of not only the victim, but also from the service provider. Sexual Assault is an issue that is discussed less by Asian Pacific Islanders since it is perceived to be connected to sexuality, a taboo subject, rather than a power issue.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 6.8% of Asian Pacific Islander women in their lifetime are raped or are victims of attempted rape, but acknowledges this estimate is likely too low as Asians are thought to be least likely to report sexual assault for reasons of language, culture, and mistrust of law enforcement. Women from API communities have experienced sexual assault in a number of situations such as in their intimate relationships; incest or other forms of child sexual abuse; sexual assault in refugee camps; in conflict zones or in a domestic worker situation or as trafficked victims just to name a few. Women of all races are most likely to be assaulted by men of their own race, except API women. According to When Violence is No Stranger, API women are most likely to have a white assailant; this is more illustration of some of the unique factors at play in our community when it comes to sexual violence.

There are few linguistically-appropriate services offered on the breadth of sexual assault issues in the API community. Some survivors have reported having a focus on sexual violence rejected by some in the API domestic violence advocacy community as a part of rejecting compartmentalized services. However, this notion silences the occurrence of sexual violence in the API community and speaks to the lack of information and understanding of the context of sexual assault by many in the community. Further, this unintentionally results in the secondary importance of the sexual violence experienced by a domestic violence victim. NAPIESV was created by API anti-sexual assault advocates to give voice to the experiences of API women and girls who are victims of sexual assault.

NAPIESV’s goal is to provide technical assistance for organizations serving survivors of violence against women on developing and/or enhancing their capacity to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services to Asian and Pacific Islander (API) survivor of sexual violence.