Our Causes

For decades, Womankind has been serving survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual violence of all ages. We provide innovative healing services and award-winning assistance to women and their children. Depending on circumstance, they have access to a safe place to live, assistance with housing, employment, English language training, legal immigration assistance, financial empowerment, and so much more.

Domestic Violence

1What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors in which an individual establishes and maintains power and control over another with whom he/she has an intimate, romantic, marital or family relationship. Abusers often use threats, intimidation, isolation, violent acts and other behaviors to establish and maintain power and control.

The followings are common types of abuse that may be used sparingly or consistently throughout a relationship.

  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Verbal Abuse
  • Emotional/Psychological Abuse
  • Economic Abuse
  • Immigration Abuse
  • Marital Rape
  • Domestic violence occurs in the relationship where abusers and survivors know each other, and could happen both in adult and adolescent intimate or familial relationships. The abuser and survivor may be married, divorced, separated, cohabiting, have a child together, dating or simply part of the family. They may be heterosexual or homosexual. The relationship may be long-term or may have just started. Domestic violence can occur in any type of intimate partner or familial relationship.

    2Identifying Domestic Violence Abuse

    Use these guidelines to determine if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence.

    Has your partner ever:

  • Punched you
  • Slapped you
  • Kicked you
  • Bitten you
  • Pulled your hair
  • Sexually assaulted you
  • Kidnapped you
  • Held you hostage
  • Does your partner ever:

  • Publicly shame you
  • Try to isolate you from others
  • Try to dominate you
  • Stalk or follow you
  • Threaten to kill or harm you, or someone you love
  • Intimidate you with weapons
  • Take your money or deny you financial resources
  • Threaten to take away your children
  • Deny or minimize abuse
  • Accuse you of being unfaithful
  • Threaten suicide
  • Try to force you to do something
  • Profile of an Abuser:

  • Entitlement thinking
  • Avoidance of feelings of helplessness, fear and powerlessness
  • Denial about the impact his behavior has on himself and others
  • Benefits from institutional and cultural forms of inequality
  • Potentially aggravating factors: substance abuse, mental illness
  • 3Prevalence of Domestic Violence

    Consider these Startling Statistics:

  • Nearly one in three adult women experience at least one physical assault by a partner during adulthood.
  • It is estimated that between one-million and four-million women suffer nonfatal violence from an intimate partner every year.
  • 30% of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.
  • Of those victimized by an intimate partner, 85% are women and 15% are men.
  • Intimate partner violence results in nearly two-million injuries and 1,300 deaths nationwide every year. That is more than three deaths per day.
  • Domestic violence is the number one cause of homelessness in 44 percent of cities surveyed.
  • It is estimated that domestic violence costs more than $900 million a year due to lower productivity, staff turnover, and absenteeism and an additional $900 million in earnings lost by victims of intimate partner violence.
  • Abused women are twice as likely as non-abused women to have poor health and physical and mental problems, even if the violence occurred years before.
  • According to the Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, 41-60% of Asian and Pacific Islander women reported experiencing domestic violence during their lifetime.
  • Human Trafficking

    1What is Human Trafficking?

    Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons, through force, fraud, or coercion for involuntary servitude, debt bondage, slavery, or commercial sex.

    It is a violation of basic human rights and is often considered to be a form of modern day slavery. It exploits vulnerable human beings for the goal of obtaining labor or commercial sexual services.

    Human trafficking:

  • can overlap with domestic violence: an intimate partner may exploit the victim in order to force or manipulate them to perform acts of labor, sex, or both.
  • can happen where you live: although traffickers often transport victims through borders, human trafficking can occur domestically or internationally for foreign nationals.
  • can be both labor and sex trafficking, and sometimes those areas overlap.  Sexual acts can be considered labor in certain circumstances.  A common misconception is that trafficking is all about sex and prostitution, so therefore a lot of labor trafficking crimes go unreported.
  • can be big or small: trafficking may be a part of organized criminal activities with an extensive network of traffickers that exploit a person; however, it can also happen on a smaller scale, such as domestic servitude cases.
  • 2Identifying Human Trafficking Abuse

    Identifying human trafficking situations can be difficult. Generally, traffickers use the vulnerability of the person, whether it’s due to their inexperience, age, language challenges, or economic circumstance to maintain control.

    Some examples of control can be:

  • Physical: a victim is kept in locations where there is complete control by the trafficker.
  • Indirect: increasing debt holds a victim within the control of the trafficker. This can often be accompanied by threats if a debt is not paid.  
  • Withholding: a person’s freedom of movement (e.g., ID or passports) are kept by the trafficker.
  • Authority: an employer, family member, intimate partner, a foreign national.
  • Resources: a victim is not allowed to reach out for assistance or is not made aware of options.
  • Common signs of human trafficking:

  • Forced or tricked into doing sex work for money
  • Forced to work because of the huge debt you owed, which never seems to be paid off
  • Unable to go anywhere on your own without your employer or interpreter or other controlling persons
  • Feeling fearful, anxious, nervous or paranoid at saying no to the demands to work or providing sexual favors
  • Restricted in your movement either by physical confinement or restraints, or by the taking away of your passport or ID or other documents that allow you to freely travel
  • Restricted from your access to freely seek medical help, legal assistance, etc.
  • Lacking control over your money or your work schedule
  • Threatened physical harm on yourself or your family if you did not continue to provide labor or sexual services
  • Profile of a Trafficker:

  • Controls you by physical restraint or psychological manipulation, as well as methods of isolation
  • Gains a benefit from your work, including sexual services, whether that benefit is monetary or otherwise
  • Controls how much you get paid, how you get paid, and how much debt you owe
  • Makes you feel like you have no choice but to continue to follow their commands, often brainwashing you to feel like they are the only ones you can trust
  • Tells you what lies to tell authorities, medical staff, or lawyers/judges who may talk to you to offer you assistance
  • Traffickers may be strangers or a network of people who control your movement. They can also be employers and intimate partners.

    3Prevalence of Human Trafficking

    The following statistics is according to the Polaris Project, a national non-profit focused on eradicating slavery networks that rob human beings of their lives and their independence.  The Polaris Project runs the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and the national hotline for trafficking victims. In 2014, their hotline received reports of human trafficking case in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

    More than 18,000 total cases of human trafficking have been reported since 2007.  There are an estimated 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, 5.5 million of who are children.  14.3 million of those are victims of labor exploitation.

    In 2014, the International Labor Organization estimated that forced labor generated $150 billion in profits a year worldwide.

    Sexual Violence

    1What is Sexual Violence?

    Sexual violence is any sexual act you were forced to do, when you did not want to. Most often, people think of ‘rape’ when anyone mentions ‘sexual assault’ or ‘sexual violence’; however, sexual violence is much broader, encompassing power and control exercised by an intimate partner, by strangers, or anyone using methods that are of a sexual nature.

    There is no “typical” type of perpetrator: they can be anyone, including an acquaintance, classmate, employer (often referred to as ‘sexual harassment in the workplace’) or family member, as well as someone who you had no previous contact with. Most of the time, people who commit sexual violence are people that we know well and trust. All perpetrators have one thing in common: they are using sex as a method to intimidate, threaten, and control the victims.

    This intimidation and control shows up in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Forcing the victim to engage in sex
  • Humiliating their body or sexuality
  • Forcing them to watch porn
  • Calling them bad words that are of sexual nature
  • Harassing them on the street
  • Forcing them to have sex with other people
  • The public commonly associates sexual assault with rape, but all states have varying laws as to what this is legally defined as and what punishments different types of sexual assault carry. Even though a common characteristic of sexual violence is the lack of consent, the definition of this also varies in the legal system. As a result, many times, a victim is blamed for not saying no and this silences their ability to come forward.

    Sexual violence can happen to anyone, of any gender, and can occur at any point in life – from child sexual abuse to those later in life. Sexual violence can occur in a relationship or in a marriage. Sometimes in Asian cultures, it is assumed that sex is a duty and cannot be refused, so marital rape is accepted, even if it is not seen as such. In some culture, it is sometimes assumed that sex is a duty and cannot be refused. Even if sex is viewed this way, it is still considered marital rape.

    Because talking about sex itself is taboo in many societies, the barrier to disclose sexual violence is tremendous. Especially when a victim is made to believe either by a legal system or a culture or family member, that they are at fault for the acts, silence amongst survivors or an unwillingness to seek services is common.

    2Identifying Sexual Violence

    Often, sexual violence is confused with only being narrow criminal definition of rape. Popular media have also sensationalized and targeted only those where rape is perpetrated by a stranger or stalker; therefore, many in relationships with the perpetrator may not consider themselves survivors of sexual violence. However, it is much broader than that.

    Sexual violence is often used by the perpetrator in order to dominate, control, and degrade. Depending on the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim, this can take many forms. It is an exploitation of the sexual vulnerability of the survivor. It often encompasses a physical aspect, but there is almost always a large amount of humiliation and emotional injury that leads to a lot of emotional turmoil.

    In Womankind’s anti-sexual violence program – One Again – we often see that the emotional aftermath of sexual violence leaves survivors with a disconnect between the body and the mind. One Again works with survivors in the path to recovery in order to help regain a healthy balance between mind and body after sexual violence.

    You are a survivor of sexual violence if you were ever:

  • Touched sexually without your agreement, on any part of your body
  • Forced to have intercourse
  • Sexually harassed at work or somewhere else
  • Made to have oral or anal sex
  • Fondled over or under your clothes
  • Any unwanted sexual activity without your permission
  • Profile of a Perpetrator:

  • Thinks that (s)he has the right to access an individual’s body and do whatever (s)he wants to do
  • Uses the individual’s vulnerability regarding sex to make them feel helpless, afraid, ashamed and/or powerless
  • Uses physical or emotional methods to overpower the victim, bully them or manipulate them into sexual act(s)
  • Ignores the victim’s objections to sexual advances; or does not ask for permission for sexual contact
  • Anyone can be a perpetrator of sexual violence – male or female, older or younger, a family member or a community member, or a stranger.

    3Prevalence of Sexual Violence

    According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), a national anti-sexual assault organization, approximately 80% of sexual violence survivors are under age 30. Each year, there are about 293,000 victims of sexual assault. About 68% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Approximately 4 out of 5 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim; 47% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.

    In the Asian community, as many as 1 in 5 Asian women is a victim of sexual violence. Often it occurs within domestic violence. Yet only 8% of Asian women report a sexual assault crime, statistically lower than the 26% that report for other races and ethnicities.

    Later in Life Abuse

    1What is Later in Life Abuse?

    Domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual violence do not discriminate and could happen to anyone at any point in her/his life. Later in life abuse is defined as the abusive use of power and control against persons, who are over the age of 50 at the hands of their partner, family member, and/or trusted professional.

    For survivors of later in life abuse, their perpetrator can be their adult child, which makes their situation more complicated and difficult. Their adult child may take advantage of their parental love and/or threaten parental insecurity to continue abusing them. They may need to depend on their adult child to function daily and even survive. They may need to overcome various obstacles, such as financial and linguistic barriers, to receive care and support from persons other than their adult child. For Asian survivors of later in life abuse, they may possibly need to be concerned about the image and face of their community as well as how they will be treated and perceived by their community.

    2Identifying Later in Life Abuse

    Survivors of later in life abuse would need to face and cope with their health concerns including but not limited to cognitive, physical, and psychological challenges in the midst of suffering various types of abuse. Their perpetrator could threaten their confidence and memory by targeting and attacking their cognitive challenges. Their perpetrator could be perceived as loving and caring by others, which would further confuse them. Their perpetrator could over-exaggerate their various challenges in order to discredit their voice and story of later in life abuse. Their perpetrator could essentially convince them not to seek support through various manipulation and tactics.

    Does your in-laws, adult child and/or caregiver ever:

  • make you feel helpless and/or powerless
  • make you feel silenced and/or voiceless
  • make you feel alone and/or isolated
  • make you feel monitored and/or controlled
  • make you feel intimidated
  • make you feel limited and/or restricted
  • make you feel exhausted and/or fatigued
  • make you doubt your abilities, especially your memory
  • make you think you are always wrong
  • make you ask permission to do anything
  • chronically forget to take care of your needs
  • chronically ask you to do things on your own when you actually need support to do so
  • chronically move your important belongings away from your reach
  • chronically hide your important belongings from you
  • chronically change schedules that significantly disrupt your routine
  • Profile of a Perpetrator:

  • S/he thinks s/he is entitled to do whatever s/he wants to do
  • S/he avoids acknowledging helplessness, fear, and powerlessness
  • S/he avoids acknowledging the impact of her/his behavior on her/himself and others
  • S/he takes advantage of institutional and cultural forms of inequality
  • S/he takes advantage of trust, respect, and/or relationships
  • Her/his abuse may possibly be worsened by other factors, such as caregiver stress, abuse of substances, and/or struggles with mental illness
  • S/he may have been affected by experiencing and/or witnessing abuse
  • Perpetrators of later in life abuse may be male, female, or gender non-conforming.  There may be multiple perpetrators of later in life abuse.

    3Prevalence of Later in Life Abuse

    The following statistics is according to the findings from “Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study” (2011) prepared by the New York City Department for the Aging, Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University and Lifespan of Rochester, Inc.: The most common form of elder abuse, as self-reported by survivors, is financial abuse. The study also reported high incidences of psychological and physical abuse. 76 out of every 1,000 senior New Yorkers are survivors of elder abuse in a one year period. 9% of all New York City residents who are over age of 60 are survivors of elder abuse. An estimated 260,000 seniors statewide have been survivors of at least one form of elder abuse in the past year.

    There are no national studies of elder abuse in the Asian communities so prevalence is difficult to ascertain. At Womankind, 17% or one out of every six survivors are 50 years of age or older. Also, perpetrators of later in life abuse tend to be their in-laws, adult children, and homemakers.

    How Can I Help Someone?

    You can make a difference in stopping the cycle of violence. Not addressing a potentially abusive situation only serves to perpetuate it. Finding out more about the safety of your friend or family member can help. The most important thing to remember when you talk with your friend or family member is to remain non-judgmental. The abuse is not the victim's fault. Here are some things you can do:

  • Listen to their story with open ears and an open mind. Keep all information confidential.
  • Let the victim know that they are not alone, and that you are there to listen to and support them.
  • Create a safe environment where the victim will not be judged or feel uncomfortable sharing their story.
  • Choose a location to talk that can afford you and your friend or family member some privacy.
  • Here are some things NOT to do:

  • Don't tell the victim that you know what they feel like, unless you really do.
  • Don't tell the victim what she must do. Rather, DO provide options.
  • Don't blame the victim or cause them to feel more guilt by saying things like, "Why didn't you…" or "Why can't you just leave?"
  • Provide validating messages:

  • Tell the victim that you hear them. Be emotionally affirming.
  • Tell the victim that it is not their fault and that no one deserves to be abused.
  • Tell the victim that everyone has a right to live free from violence, and she has options.
  • Provide information about domestic violence - you can use the information in this website or tell the victim that they can call Womankind's helpline. A victim has options.
  • Safety Plan: Visit the safety plans section of our website. Print out a copy of the safety plan and give it to the victim, or just share some of the information with her to help her protect herself and her children.
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