[Flushing, NY] On Friday, October 2, 2020, The Korean American Family Service Center (KAFSC) hosted its 23rd Annual Rally Against Domestic Violence in front of the Queens Flushing Public Library. For more than two decades KAFSC has organized its Silent March and Rally Against Domestic Violence to bring the community together and raise awareness of the domestic violence that is prevalent yet all too silent in our Communities, a fact which is highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising incidences of violent incidents at home globally. Enforcement of social distancing and other safety measures such as shutting down schools and businesses mean that our survivors and their children are trapped at home and face additional violence and challenges. Financial difficulties compounded with social isolation exacerbates existing abusive relationships.
At the height of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders from March to June, KAFSC received 1,283 calls to our 24 hour bilingual hotline, of which 88% were related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. Our immigrant survivors and their children were forced into dangerous and explosive situations that resulted in violent incidents at home. It is critical, now more than ever, that our community knows that domestic violence will not be tolerated, survivors have rights, and help is available in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways.
“During the pandemic, the number of monthly calls to our 24-hr bilingual hotline has tripled; the number of DV cases have increased by 43% — so much trauma to treat; so few resources. But thanks to KAFSC’s dedicated staff, along with our board, supporters, allies, community members, and other CBOs, who are here today standing in solidarity, KAFSC continues to be a safe haven for our immigrant survivors and their children.,” KAFSC's Executive Director Jeehae Fischer said. She added, “Every day, our clients’ extraordinary journeys remind us of the resilience deep in all of us, and how crucially important our mission is at KAFSC. My fervent wish is one day to live in a violence-free society where each of our survivors and their children can lead a healthy life based on dignity, compassion and mutual respect.”
Today we are taking both a physical and symbolic stand. To show our community that we are here to support and that help is available. It is also a time for us to break the silence that surrounds this issue and dismantle the stigmas that are still associated with domestic violence. In particular, we are reaching out to the immigrant community in Flushing with messages of hope and support that they are not forgotten and will not be overlooked. Organizations like KAFSC, and the many community partners both here and virtually, have services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
The rally was conducted in a socially responsible manner with social distancing and masks required for all participants. In addition, to limit the crowd size, the rally was organized by invitation only and not promoted to the community at large to participate. The rally was live streamed through KAFSC’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/kafsc) so that the community could participate virtually.
13 community partners joined in support of the event with some organizations participating in-person. NYPD 109th Police Precinct Commanding Officer John O’Connell was in attendance along with many state and local elected officials and government representatives (full list below), many who expressed their support for KAFSC and survivors of domestic violence.
Congresswoman Grace Meng said, "Domestic violence continues to impact too many women and families. This heinous crime is unacceptable and nobody should be subjected to this type of abuse. I thank the Korean American Family Service Center for continuing to shine a light on this problem, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic where many have been trapped at home with their abusers.
The Korean American Family Service Center has been shedding light on the issue of domestic violence for more than two decades. The unfortunate truth is that domestic violence does exist in our communities. Through these annual rallies, the KAFSC is able to showcase the support system that exists for anyone who is a victim of abuse. People need to know they are not alone, and there are many professionals, leaders and organizations ready and willing to help them if they feel helpless or trapped. Together, we must continue to work to put an end to domestic violence in our community,” said Toby Ann Stavisky, New York State Senator
Thank you to the Korean American Family Service Center for sponsoring this annual silent march to raise awareness about domestic violence, and for their work every day to help create a violence-free community,” stated John Liu, New York State Senator. “This longstanding event is even more important at this critical time, when the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about rising rates intimate partner violence.
"I am proud to once again join the Korean American Family Service Center at its 23rd Annual Silent March to acknowledge that domestic violence exists and that is unacceptable. Victims of domestic violence should know that KAFSC is available to provide support and help them understand their rights," stated Edward Braunstein, New York State Assembly Member
"Partnering with community-based organizations to raise domestic violence awareness is essential to maximizing outreach and support," said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows). "I am grateful to KAFSC for their leadership in this work through events such as the annual march and ongoing advocacy efforts that empower survivors across New York."
Assemblymember Ron Kim said, "Domestic violence continues to remain a serious and life-threatening issue in our country, and the plight of victims has only become more acute during this health crisis, when so many are unable to leave their homes or otherwise keep away from their abusers. During a time of scarcity and austerity, we should not forget about some of the most vulnerable members of our society. In fact, we should do even more to encourage them to seek safety, shelter, and closure from abusive and dangerous living conditions."
“We thank the Korean American Family Support Center for this opportunity to help tell survivors they are not alone,” said Cecile Noel, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence. “Survivors need us now more than ever in these extraordinary times. COVID-19 puts into sharp focus the vulnerabilities that many people in our city face every day, especially gender-based violence survivors; and it highlights the barriers and challenges that we know keep people from seeking help and finding safety. Our partnership with the Korean American Family Support Center is vital to assisting survivors, and their event gives New Yorkers another way to show their support for survivors.”
“Although we are not able to march this year because of the pandemic, I am honored to stand once again with the Korean American Family Service Center in support of its efforts to raise awareness about domestic violence. Sadly, domestic violence has been underreported during the pandemic. That makes the work of the KAFSC more crucial than ever,” stated Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz
"No person should be subjected to abuse by an intimate partner,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. “I pledge to support survivors and their allies at City Hall and applaud KAFSC for their outreach efforts to protect and support domestic survivors in New York City. We cannot stay silent.”
Council Member Peter Koo stated, "Not only has the COVID-19 crisis engendered a rise in domestic violence and sexual abuse, but it has made it more difficult for advocates to reach these vulnerable populations. Today we march to let these victims know that there are resources and people ready, willing, and able to help them end the cycle of abuse. "
Confirmed Government Officials & Representatives
Congresswoman Grace Meng (Representative Sandra Ung)
New York State Senator John Liu
New York State Assembly Member Ron Kim
New York State Assembly Member Edward Braunstein
Commissioner Cecile Noel
New York District Attorney Melinda Katz
Queens Borough President Sharon Lee
New York City Council Member Peter Koo
New York City Council Member Barry Grodenchik
Confirmed Community Partners
Asian American Federation
Chinese-American Planning Council
Korean American Association of Greater New York
Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York
Minkwon Center for Community Action
New York City Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence
Queens Family Justice Center
Sakhi for South Asian Women
Turning Point for Women and Families
Violence Intervention Program, Inc.
Women for Afghan Women
YWCA of Queens