Taiwanese American Women Raising Awareness of Domestic Violence


by Deana Chuang

On Sunday, April 21, 2013, the NATWA convention in Los Angeles came to a close with NATWA II’s panel entitled, “Taiwanese American Women Raising Awareness of Domestic Violence.”  The panel consisted of three speakers – Deborah Chuang Servino, Grayce Liu, and Jong-Ling Wu – and was moderated by NATWA II Co-Coordinator Deana Chuang.

Jong-Ling started the panel with general information about the pervasiveness of

NATWA II Sunday Panelists and moderator Deana Chuang, far left.

domestic violence.  She reported that the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence found that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.  In 1999, the National Violence Against Women Survey found that Asian women are the least likely to formally report any kind of physical victimization when compared to women of other ethnicities.  The Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, Inc. published a survey in 2000 of ethnic Chinese containing the following findings:

  • 24% surveyed know a woman who has been physically abused or injured;
  • 21% say they know a woman whose partner insults or humiliates her regularly;
  • 14% say they know a woman whose partner keeps her from seeing her friends and family;
  • 14% say they know a woman whose partner keeps her from going to work;
  • 18% saw their father regularly hit their mother; and
  • 18% said the women should not tell anyone about the abuse.

The first of the three panelists, Deborah Chuang Servino, currently sits on the Orange County Superior Court handling juvenile dependency matters.  Appointed by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzennegar in 2009, she is the first Taiwanese American judge to be appointed to the Orange County Superior Court.  A graduate of Duke University and U.C. Berkeley’s Law School, Judge Servino had a distinguished career in private practice and with the Attorney General’s Office prior to her appointment to the bench.

Judge Servino spoke about the prevalence of domestic violence issues in criminal, family, juvenile, and dependency courts.  In her current assignment, she spoke of domestic violence issues affecting decisions on whether to remove children, what services to refer, and how to decide custody arrangements.  Domestic violence particularly affects immigrant families, she noted, due to economic vulnerabilities, isolation, language barriers, immigration status, and stigma from a victim’s home country.  She described the difficulty that children face, as they often serve as reluctant translators for law enforcement.  Judge Servino recommended pointing victims to resources, such as the National Domestic Violence hotline, and raising awareness in the community.

The second panelist, Grayce Liu, currently serves as the General Manager for the City of Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and is responsible for the overall management of the department.  Appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2012, she is responsible for budget development, strategic planning, programs and services, policies, personnel, and constituent and City government relations.  Prior to this, Grayce served as the Community Program Director for the Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF) and the co-chair of the Asian and Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Task Force in the San Gabriel Valley.  She became involved with the Task Force as a result of the closing of many shelters in the San Gabriel Valley due to budget cuts.

A lawyer by training, Grayce became involved in domestic violence issues because she wanted to end the stigma and shame surrounding the issue.  She spoke of CPAF as a model for other shelters due to its emphasis on empowerment and culturally and linguistically accessible services.  Grayce volunteers to teach self-defense and is trained in Krav Maga, an Israeli form of

NATWA 2013 President Bertha Huang with NATWA II panelists and moderator.

martial arts.  Grayce strongly recommended being supportive of friends who may seek your help regarding domestic violence issues.  She recommends assessing the situation first, as not every woman can leave immediately and police involvement may elevate the danger.

The last panelist, Jong-Ling Wu, received her B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Mental Health from USC.  She has worked at CPAF for six years, starting out as a volunteer, and currently holds the position of Senior Advocate/Hotline Coordinator.  Jong-Ling spoke about the services at CPAF being divided into an emergency shelter and a transitional shelter.  The emergency shelter provides protection to women in immediate danger and connects her to resources relating to relocation, divorce and custody issues, public benefits, and restraining orders.  The emergency shelter can house clients for two to three months.  The transitional shelter prepares clients to transition into independent living by providing long term services such as English language classes and vocational skills training.

Jong-Ling emphasized that domestic violence is not just a woman’s issue, but a community issue that affects all socioeconomic classes.  She recommends listening to women without judgment and being conscious of the woman’s emotional readiness to take action.  She emphasized trusting the victim’s instinct of what is safe, as she has expertise on the batterer and the situation.  Jong-Ling also provided a list of resources for shelters specializing in Asian Pacific Islander issues.

In the end, all three women educated the audience on domestic violence issues and provided us with valuable insights on addressing this intractable problem.  Additionally, as a result of NATWA’s efforts in collecting used cell phones and accessories at the convention, Jong-Ling collected 203 phones to take back to CPAF, raising $1,015 in funds to go towards replacing the vans at their emergency and transitional shelters.  We hope this is just the beginning of NATWA’s work in addressing domestic violence in our communities.


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