Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Breaking Free from Generations of Abuse

domestic violence
Muse: Jasmin Rahman | Photographer: Viren Shinde

*trigger warning: domestic abuse and emotional abuse

Emotional and domestic abuse can be difficult to identify in brown communities. No one speaks these words out loud, and we’re trained that this is what love looks like. What may feel right also hurts, and we carry guilt that we are the cause of that hurt.

My story is an example of how relationship standards can be transmitted from generation to generation — subconsciously. Growing up with conflicting messages of what a healthy relationship looks like can blur the lines around control, jealousy, negative criticism, manipulation and isolation making them seem like a typical side effect of love. These messages are instilled in us from an early age and can manifest in various forms in adulthood.

When my mom was divorced from my dad, I was six years old, so theoretically I had limited exposure to him and their relationship. It wasn’t until I was 19, and found myself in my third consecutive abusive relationship. It was then that my mom brought the red flags to my attention I had been blind to my entire life. She made direct parallels to my dad that led me to the jarring realization that abuse isn’t just physical, but emotional, and I unknowingly was seeking men who were like my dad.

I then found myself in four consecutive abusive relationships by the age of 22, one that continued on and off for over 10 years between the ages of 14-26. When I started working in the mental health field that I started recognizing how these relationships had impacted me. Having positive male role models in my family didn’t prevent me from falling into abusive cycles. Innately, I felt as though I didn’t have a voice watching my mom be silenced by society my whole life. She was never truly able to make decisions for herself, between being born and raised in America in the ’60s by strict parents to going into an emotionally abusive marriage, then returning to my grandparents home post-divorce.

Just because your environment and experiences involved abuse, doesn’t mean you can’t break free, heal and have healthy meaningful relationships. Be patient with the process and allow yourself the time to heal. I want to share what I’ve learned working with people who have experienced abuse and from my own experiences.

Listen to your loved ones, I was often told that people couldn’t read me, I wasn’t happy, and didn’t express my feelings. The walls I protected myself with were REAL, my body was protecting me from vulnerability and possible danger. I didn’t know how to react to niceness, and everything I knew I deserved. After five years of therapy, I learned to open up to my close friends, who didn’t know what I experienced until a recently and made it a habit to reach out when I needed support. I practiced mindfulness to catch myself in moments where I felt disconnected or was restricting myself from being vulnerable.

Abusive relationships can often result in a diminished sense of self and self-esteem. Allow yourself the time and space to reconnect with yourself and find your voice. I had become a submissive woman who couldn’t connect with her voice, or get gas for her car alone. I still catch myself saying “I don’t know” or “whatever you want” and learning how to handle certain tasks I was used to having done for me. I truly felt that I couldn’t make decisions, or handle life’s bumps without the support of my ex as he led me to believe. It took two years of soul searching and dating men who were the complete opposite of him to recognize that my perspective on dating was flawed and work through my trigger responses.

It is common to be extremely reactive to triggers such as people, places, words, things, smells, acts/actions related to abusive experiences or the abuser. Some of these triggers may result in automatic reactions such as physical startle responses, panic attacks, rage and shutting down. Once you become aware of your own triggers and responses, you can learn how to cope with and eventually extinguish them. Take your time to notice the themes in your reactions, find healthy coping skills you enjoy doing (mindfulness, relaxation, distractions) and communicate with those around you. I found it helpful to expose myself to my triggers intentionally with my close friends and allow myself to feel every emotion that surfaced, then create a new fun memory in that space. Communicate your triggers when dating a new person and allow space for conversation around how to make you feel safe.

Make lists and check them thrice! Make lists of the unhealthy aspects of your abusive relationship, characteristics in that partner you wish to avoid, and lists of what you would like in a healthy relationship and partnership. These help us stay accountable and set a new standard for ourselves. Everyone deserves a healthy, loving, respectful relationship. Create affirmations weekly or daily to help remind yourself that you are enough, you are safe, you are love.

Are you or someone you love living in an abusive relationship?

Abuse includes physical, sexual and emotional harm. Abusive relationships are cyclical in nature and have patterns; they can stem from dysfunction and unrealistic/irrational ideas about what it means to love. Physical abuse includes hitting, aggressive pushing, grabbing, or any unwanted or aggressive physical contact including sexual violence.

Emotional abuse can be more difficult to detect and heal from. Signs of emotional abuse include control, guilt, and manipulation. Creating dependence on the point of self-doubt. Isolation for extended periods of time causing the person to be without contact for days to weeks which often leads to guilt, anxiety, and depression. Other indicators include name calling, put downs, extreme and negative criticism that encourage self-hate. This behavior can stem from the abuser’s personal history of trauma, jealousy, and insecurity.

It’s healthy to seek help, go to therapy, and allow yourself to heal and break the generational cycles of abuse. There is a life after living through abuse, everyone’s journey is unique. Be patient with your journey, you’re not alone. 

If you suspect you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, the following South Asian organizations are available for assistance:


PO Box 1021, Huntsville, AL 35807
24-hour Hopeline: (256)-509-1882 and toll-free crisis line: (800)-793-3010
Phone: (256) 698 – 4446

ASAFSF, Arizona South Asians for Safe Families
PO Box 2748, Scottsdale, AZ 85252-2748
Hotline: 1-877-SAFE-711 (1-877-723-3711)
ASAFSF is a registered, nonprofit, community-based organization providing support and services to victims of domestic violence in the South Asian community in Arizona.

PO Box 697 Santa Clara, CA 95052
Helpline (888) 8 MAITRI (800.862.4874)  Mon- Fri 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Office (408) 436 8398
Fax  (408) 503 0887
Cultural Displacement, Conflict Resolution and Domestic Violence – Transitional House services available.

P.O. Box 14014
Berkeley, CA 94714
Hotline (800) 215 7308 
Office  (510) 540 0754 
Fax     (510) 540 0201
DV organization

Orphans & Battered Women Foundation International, Inc.
2680 N. Vista Glen Road
Orange, CA 92867-1739
Office (714) 637 1613
Fax    (323) 725 6969

17918 South Pioneer Blvd. Suite 206
Artesia, CA 90701
Hotline (888) 724 2722
Office    (562) 402 4132
Fax      (562) 402 6096

DV organization

My Sahana
P.O. Box 361301
Milpitas, CA 95036-1301
Office: (408) 657 9569
Awareness about mental health, emotional health, and overall well-being in the South Asian community by providing culturally-sensitive information as well as helpful resources and tips.

South Asian Network
18173 South Pioneer Blvd. Suite 1
Artesia, CA 90701
Helpline (800) 281 8111
Office    (562) 403-0488
Fax:      (562) 403 0487

O. Box 14161
San Francisco, CA 94414
Voicemail (415) 487 8778
Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender South Asians.

P.O. BOX 271650
West Hartford, CT 06127-1650

Raksha, Inc.
P.O. Box 12337 Atlanta, Georgia – 30355
Office (404) 876 0670
Toll-Free (866) 725 7423
Toll-Free (877) 672 5742
Helpline (404) 842 0725
Fax (404) 876-4525
DV organization

Apna Ghar
4753 N. Broadway, Suite 502 Chicago, IL 60640
Crisis line      (800) 717 0757 Illinois only
Out of State  (773)334 4663
Office           (773) 334 0173
Fax              (773) 334 0963
DV Organization – Shelter services available.

Hamdard Center
228 E. Lake Street, Suite 300
Addison, IL 60101
Office    (630) 835 1430 (630) 860 9122

Khuli Zaban
Chicago/Illinois/ Ohio/Michigan/Indiana areas
Phone  (312) 409 2753
The South Asian/Middle Eastern Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Women’s Organization.

ASHA Asian (Women’s) Self- Help Association
P.O. Box 34303
West Bethesda, MD 20827
Hotline (800) 799.7233
Office  (202) 207 1248
DV organization.

Counselors Helping Asian Indians (CHAI, Inc.)
4517 Redleaf Court
Ellicott City, MD 21043
Office (410) 461 1634 Ext 2

Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence
24 Hour Multilingual Hotline: (617)338-2355

P O Box 1345
Burlington, MA 01803
Office (866) 4SAHELI

Michigan Asian Indian Family Center (MAIFS)
28650 11 Mile Rd Suite 218 Farmington Hills, MI 48336
Hotline (888) 664 8624
Office (248) 477 4985
Helping DV victims, widowed/divorced spouses, mental depression, and medical illness patients, and elderly persons.

P.O. Box 3103 New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Office (732) 435 1414
Fax    (732) 435 1411
DV Organization, Transitional House services available.

24-Hour Multilingual Helpline: 1.888.888.7702
9 Mott Street, Suite #200
New York, NY 10013
Monday, Wednesday-Friday: 9am-6pm
Tuesday: 9am-7pm

Islamic Center of Long Island, Domestic Violence Committee
835 Brush Hollow Road
Westbury, NY 11590
Office (516) 333-3495Fax (516) 333 7321

11-45 Union Turnpike, Lower Level
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Office (516) 487 0929
Fax     (718) 459 2971

Saathi of Rochester
P O Box 92
East Rochester, NY 14445
Office (585) 234 1050

Sakhi for South Asian women
PO Box 20208
Greeley Square Station
New York, NY, 10001
Helpline  (212) 868 6741
Office      (212) 714 9153
Fax          (212) 5648745

1012 Oberlin Rd, Raleigh NC, 27605
Office phone: 919-831-4203
Office fax: 919-839-6203 24/7 Crisis Hotline: 1-877-NC-KIRAN Email: Website:
DV organization – Promote the self-reliance and empowerment of South Asian women who are in crisis through outreach, peer support, and referrals in a confidential manner.

ASHA- Ray of Hope
4900 Reed Road,  Suite 300, Columbus Ohio -43220
Office number: 614-326-2121
Helpline number: 614-565-2918 (24/7)

South Asian Women’s Empowerment and Resources Alliance (SAWERA)
P.O. Box 91242 Portland, OR 97291 0242

Helpline (503) 778 7386
Office     (503) 641 2425
DV – organization – Provides free referrals to South Asian women domestic violence (DV) victims seeking shelter, legal help, job placement, childcare and counseling.

Service and Education for Women Against Abuse (SEWAA)
P.O. Box 1591 Havertown, PA 19083
Office  (215) 62 – SEWAA

Asians Against Domestic Abuse (AADA) 
PO Box. 420776 Houston TX 77242Office  (713) 339 8300
DV help to all Asian women

An-Nisa’ Hope Center
P. O. Box 1086,Spring, TX 77383-1086
Tel: (713) 339-0803 Fax: (281) 719-0355
Services include Education and Career Training, Shelter, Medical and Legal Assistance, and Outreach. Promoting a new beginning through: Outreach, Education, Counseling. Bridging the gap with: Training, Job placement, Medical, and legal aid. Other Goals: Providing a safe and healthy, Islamic Environment

P O Box 832802
Richardson, TX 75083
P.O. Box 571774
Houston, TX 77257
Office  (713) 981 7645
DV organization

P. O. Box 3665
South 5th Street
Austin, TX 78764
Office  (512) 703 8745
DV Organization – to work toward preventing abuse in family relationships, to break the cycle of violence and pursue a cycle of peace.

O. Box 22291
Seattle, WA 98122-0291
Toll-free  (877) 922  4292
Hotline    (206) 325 0325
Office       (206) 568 7576
DV organization – Provides translation and interpretation services, referrals to shelters, counseling, medical services, legal and immigration services, community outreach, and training.

DV organization – Provides a safe and supportive environment, promotes awareness and acceptance, and fosters positive cultural and sexual identity for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning(LGBTQ) and additional gender or sexual minority South Asians in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area.

By Jasmin Rahman

Jasmin Rahman is a makeup artist, creative director, and therapist with a passion for igniting social change through beauty. As … Read more ›

Painful Sex is More Common Than you Think

Close up on couple having intimacy moments

Ten to 28% of the world’s population of women experience painful sex. Keep in mind, that this is just what is reported. As embarrassing and as vulnerable as you may feel, you are absolutely not alone. The good news is that in addition to your traditional medical care to treat painful sex (also known as dyspareunia) such as medication, injections and surgery — a conservative approach is effective and long-lasting. Conservative care ranges from pelvic floor physical therapy, chiropractic care and acupuncture which are beneficial in treating the root cause of painful sex, as well as symptoms, for long-term healing. 

Some of the signs to look out for if you experience pain are:

  1. Deep pain/burning during or after sex
    • Pain descriptors: sharp, stabbing, deep, dull, burning
  2. Vaginal Dryness
  3. Low Libido
  4. Tightening at the vaginal opening

[Read Related: 12 Beliefs About Sex That South Asians Need to Throw Out the Window]

Treatment Options 

Treatment options for painful sex such as pelvic floor physical therapy, chiropractic care and acupuncture provide a long-lasting and profound effect on the pelvic floor and address your entire physical well-being.

The pelvic floor is a layer of muscles that range from the pubic bone to the tailbone. The purpose of these muscles is to assist in bowel and bladder control, support a baby during pregnancy and contribute to sexual sensations. Just like any other muscle in your body, these pelvic floor muscles can become tight or weak which can be a contributing factor to pain.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Pelvic floor therapy can assist by strengthening and relaxing the muscles which is necessary to relieve pain during sex. 

[Read Related: My Awkward First Time at the Gyno]

Chiropractic Physician

Chiropractors can be extremely beneficial with assisting in helping relieve pain. Associated pain and discomfort can originate from the lower back and buttock muscles. Chiropractors are trained in taking a history and performing a neurological, orthopedic and soft tissue examination to identify treatment options. Deep tissue massage, skin rolling, Active Release Technique, muscle energy technique, ice, heat and electrical stimulation are just to name a few.


Acupuncture can activate the human dopamine system which helps regulate hormone levels and can assist in psychological factors. Acupuncture can improve mood, decrease pain and can be vastly beneficial in managing pain and mental health symptoms. 

Ask for help

“Everyone is having pelvic pain and no one is talking about it”

  1. Start with seeing your gynecologist who you trust for a history and examination of current symptoms to rule out any other medical conditions that could be a contributing factor to symptoms. 
  2. Locate a pelvic floor physical therapist through Apta Pelvic Health or Pelvic Rehab.  
  3. Locate proper chiropractic care that is trained as a licensed acupuncturist; look for credentials such as DC, LAc. 

[Read Related: Not Your Auntie’s Tips: 5 Sex Myths Busted]

How to talk to your partner about this in a safe/healthy way

Being open with your partner about your symptoms and painful sex may seem like a difficult conversation. Intercourse should never be painful and learning when to stay ‘stop’ is important in communication. Talking about pain before, during and after sex is important also in your own health diagnosis to see if pain symptoms are improving or becoming worse. Having open communication does not only benefit your relationship but most importantly, your own health.

To experience these symptoms may seem taboo or unheard of but quite frankly, they are common in many women. Women deserve to be directed to proper healthcare. 

Disclaimer: These are based on recommendations from a board-certified chiropractic physician and licensed acupuncturist. If symptoms become new or worse, consult with a primary care physician and or OBGYN to co-manage symptoms.


Reference: Tayyeb M, Gupta V. Dyspareunia. [Updated 2022 Jun 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:


Photo by anushkaniroshan stock photo ID: 2071991336

jasmine bhoola
By Jasmine Bhoola

Jasmine Bhoola DC, LAC - A chiropractic physician and licensed acupuncturist in Midtown East Manhattan. A graduate from the University … Read more ›

South Asian Masculinity and Mental Health: Can we Find a new way Forward?

toxic masculinity

What is South Asian masculinity?

Masculinity and mental health have come under greater scrutiny by researchers, particularly as traditional masculinity is often cited as the reason why men are less willing to reach out for support regarding psychological issues. However, the influence of masculine norms on well-being has been insufficiently viewed through an intersectional lens and is understudied within South Asian mental health. From a South Asian context, traditional masculinity can include focusing on material success while displaying suppressed emotionality, which can be manifested through anger or practicing other harmful behaviors.

[Read Related: Brown Boys Do Cry: How Toxic Masculinity Screws With Us, Too]

In order to understand its influence, it is critical to examine the impact of traditional paradigms of masculinity across the diaspora. For instance, some traits associated with traditional masculinity among South Asian men include displaying control over others. A Sri-Lanka-based study found that most male participants “associated manhood with dominance…” A Forbes India article asserted how boys in India are “taught to … apply themselves to the task of growing up to be a strong, unwavering support system for their families,” which in turn forces them to be silent about topics that may make them seem weak. This pattern of behavior becomes manifested in a particularly harmful way because boys grow up with the inability to handle their emotions or formulate healthy coping strategies during challenging circumstances. 

These norms can have drastic implications and harm other community members. For instance, a focus group conducted among Nepali men found that failure to deliver for their household economically as breadwinners eventually resulted in heated disputes, which escalated and led them to engage in domestic violence. The presence of domestic violence can also be observed through media stories on the pervasiveness of gender-based harm within South Asian communities, as seen in the murder of Sania Khan. 

Traditional masculinity also hides the wounds that South Asian men may be battling within themselves. One paper asserts that for a sizable number of Indian men, “…sadness and despair find a distorted manifestation in destructive behaviors that deny their emotional pain to themselves and to others.” Thus, performing conventionally masculine behaviors can mask deeper mental health issues. 

Repercussions of South Asian masculinity on mental health

Because of the pressure to adhere to such strict standards of conduct, traditional masculinity has significant, greater repercussions for mental health and well-being. For instance, because of the narrow ability of men to compartmentalize their feelings, this restrictive emotionality can result in an inability for others to recognize their mental health issues, thus failing to target the deeper causes of men’s behavior. Furthermore, men themselves might engage in fewer help-seeking behaviors. This is also further complicated due to gaps in culturally competent services that can serve South Asian men when they do utilize support systems. 

Additional social forces experienced by South Asian men might explain mental health outcomes, particularly when considering the role of immigration. Among South Asian American men in the United States, one study noted that “a lower social position” within their community was linked to higher distress, indicating how critical it was for first-generation men to be leaders and actively participate in their ethnic community’s organizations. Thus, social expectations of men within South Asian communities influenced their well-being, as did their social status and relative power. 

What we can do to change the status quo on South Asian masculinity and mental health 

In order to ensure that men in South Asian cultures can embrace their mental health, it is important to formulate a prudent, welcoming paradigm that encourages greater help-seeking behaviors. Greater attention to this topic can also contribute to theories on feminist and sociocultural therapeutic frameworks, which both offer the following includes suggested remedies:  

Challenging gender stereotypes and encouraging mental health care as a means to discuss issues about well-being

It is imperative to encourage South Asian men to show more emotion, thus changing the existing narrative and social pressure they face to limit the expression of their feelings. Fortunately, there is a platform, known as @BrownManTherapy, that posts content about the struggles South Asian men experience. Furthermore, therapy ought to be recommended as a means to deal with mental health concerns, which should be combined with support from the community. 

More South Asian male clinicians

In addition to instituting changes in community norms, there needs to be more diverse representation in the mental health field. In doing so, there will be greater platforms to have conversations about the negative repercussions of traditional masculinity that are unique to South Asian men. Furthermore, it is critical to challenge the social stigma that mental health is a female-dominated profession or that seeking therapy is emasculating. 

More research studies examining cross-cultural differences in masculinity across South Asian cultures

The connection between masculinity and mental health ought to be investigated much further. Studies should particularly assess masculinity within non-white contexts in order to examine the standards of manhood across several communities and truly understand the unique stressors men face across different cultural backgrounds.

[Read Related: These 5 South Asian Men Are Opening up About Their Mental Health and Toxic Masculinity]

While the connection between South Asian masculinity and mental health is not discussed among psychology professionals, it is critical to study the association since it plays a role in South Asian gender inequities and in mental health behaviors among South Asian men. More broadly, given the prevalence of intimate partner violence within the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and the role of patriarchal norms in inflicting this harm, it is now more important than ever to reimagine expectations surrounding men’s behavior. 

By further examining the problems caused by adherence to traditionally masculine norms and implementing certain solutions, these ideas can be challenged and dismantled to create a progressive and more inclusive model of manhood. Above all, identifying and eradicating toxic ideas rooted in traditional South Asian masculinity will lead to liberation for all people.

If you need additional resources, please visit:

Photo: Shutterstock/Roxanne 134

paritosh joshi
By Paritosh Joshi

Paritosh Joshi is a graduate student in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. His background includes a Master of … Read more ›

Shedding Light on South Asians and Intimate Partner Violence


In July 2022, Sania Khan’s life was ruthlessly taken from her by her ex-husband. Sania was a young, vibrant South Asian woman – a creator and photographer who had the courage to step out of an abusive marriage, even in the face of community norms that discourage women from speaking out. While this tragedy seemed to stir a consciousness in the South Asian diaspora that we can no longer justify the status quo, it is far from the only such incident. Just months later in December of 2022, Harpreet Kaur Gill was stabbed to death by her husband in Vancouver. While the most extreme cases like those of Sania Khan and Harpreet Kaur Gill are highlighted by mainstream media, a small body of research provides evidence that intimate partner violence experiences are equally, if not more, prevalent in South Asian communities than the general population in the US or Canada. That’s why we need to do more as a community and throw light South Asians and intimate partner violence.

[Read Related: A South Asian Daughter of Divorced Parents Speaks up After the Tragic Death of Pakistani-American Photographer Sania Khan]

Violence prevention researchers have long used traditional gender roles to explain intimate partner violence in South Asian countries. These norms are deeply entrenched beliefs in society about appropriate roles for people based on their gender. In South Asian communities, these norms typically privilege men in intimate relationships. These beliefs are further perpetuated by mainstream media. For example, despite historic criticism for its depiction of harassment as “romance” or abuse as “lovers’ quarrels,” Indian cinema has only normalized toxic masculinity and violence as a form of conflict resolution with its hundreds of millions of viewers.

Despite the identification and investigation of these norms in South Asia, there’s so much we still don’t know about diaspora communities, especially in relation to South Asians and intimate partner violence. In the US, South Asians have become one of the fastest-growing populations, but we remain unaware of how the stresses of raising a family in a different culture, and the weight of growing up between two worlds, affect these norms, expectations, and experiences among South Asian immigrants, the second generation and beyond. 

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at how these norms are enacted to influence intimate relationship dynamics, discuss the recent rise in intimate partner violence, and explore the work that researchers, policymakers, and program implementers can do to address violence in South Asian diaspora communities.

[Read Related: On Domestic Violence: Model Minority, Private Pain]

Social Norms and Violence in South Asian Diaspora Communities

Why does it take catastrophic events to serve as a call to action? For one, the “model minority myth” continues to portray South Asians in America (who originate from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) as a healthy and wealthy group. As a child of Indian immigrants, I always thought this was just a frustrating trope that lived rent-free in my head next to the eternal question, “Log kya kahenge?(What will people say?) However, I have realized that this constant worry is not just an innocent preoccupation. It’s the result of a dangerous spiral beginning with the portrayal of South Asians as a model minority and the need to maintain that well-to-do image. This only reinforces the traditional gender norms that overlook men’s perpetration of violence and encourage women’s silence, crippling any efforts to understand the scope of the problem and draw attention and resources to address it. 

The Impacts of COVID-19 on Intimate Partner Violence

Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the frequently-uttered phrase among researchers, practitioners, and advocates alike was “one in three” — one in three women ages 15-49 experiences physical and/or sexual violence inflicted by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic however, rates of violence against women rose dramatically, prompting UN Women to call for recognition of this “Shadow Pandemic.” During the height of the pandemic, the social isolation that came with lockdowns and quarantine procedures to curb the spread of disease made home a more dangerous place for an increasing number of women. As communities seek to rebuild, the inequities in access to and use of potentially lifesaving services have deepened. Now more than ever, it is critical that we shine a light on the many intersections of our society to prevent South Asian women’s experiences of intimate partner violence from being pushed even further into the shadows. 

[Read Related: How to Talk to Your Child About Domestic Violence: 5 Tips for Parents]

Addressing the “Shadow Pandemic”

First and foremost, to better understand South Asians and intimate partner violence, we need better data disaggregated by racial/ethnic group. Since the 1980 Census, only those of Indian origin have had a fill-in bubble. All other South Asian groups have to write something in, decreasing their participation. South Asian communities in the US are not a monolith and they are certainly not all of Indian origin. This perception, fed by our lack of data, likely privileges the Indian community in America and limits the visibility of other South Asian communities. 

More accurate information will help us better understand where the need is greatest. We can make a stronger case for more equitable resource allocation, improve South Asian language materials for survivors, and enhance provider training programs, accounting for the specific cultural implications of disclosing and seeking treatment for violence in South Asian communities. Public health researchers should increase efforts to understand the prevalence of experiences of violence, the environmental factors that make South Asian women in America vulnerable to experiences of intimate partner violence, and how it impacts their health.

While outstanding organizations such as Narika in California and Sakhi in New York are leading the charge in raising awareness, running active helplines, and providing support, they cannot be the sole safe space for survivors. While the system’s failure to protect Sania is not an isolated incident, it has served as a wake-up call.

All South Asian women in America should be able to be healthy and safe and lead lives free from violence, coercion, or abandonment. To achieve this, we need better data, more research, culturally-tailored resources, and appropriate legislative action that will allow for prevention, screening, and treatment efforts to finally take root.

 Intimate Partner Violence Resources:

  1.     National Domestic Violence Hotline Call: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224; Text: “START” to 8878
  1.     National Dating Abuse Helpline Call: 1-866-331-9474
  1.     National Sexual Assault Hotline Call: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
By Sneha Challa

Sneha holds a PhD in Global Health and is currently a researcher at the University of California San Francisco working … Read more ›