CPAF training & the Clothesline Project

By July 20th, I will have spent 65 hours of my summer learning about and discussing domestic violence and sexual assault (yeah this isn’t an uplifting post, but sadly these are things that happen to about one in four women in the U.S. and therefore topics that need to be addressed). These sessions are part of a required training to volunteer/work for an organization in Los Angeles called the Center for Pacific American Families (CPAF) which provides services mainly to immigrant women and their children. The dates of the training happened to coincide with the weeks that I’m here before I head to Hawaii for all of August. Since I didn’t seek out any job or internship for these short six weeks of my L.A. summer, I figured it would be a worthwhile way to spend my time.

Some facts and statistics:

  • As many as 1/3 of all relationships experience partner abuse
  • One in four women in the United States are affected by sexual assault, including harassment, child abuse, and rape
  • Domestic violence is often cyclical, both within a given relationship (often escalating over time) as well as intergenerationally
  • Immigrants (mainly women and children) are less likely to seek and receive support for domestic violence and sexual assault due to many reasons including cultural and language barriers, immigration status, and community isolation
  • The roots of gender violence are power and control
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a couple of weeks now, which made me remember I had these photos from a Clothesline Project that was up at UCLA back in May. The project is a creative outlet and non-violent way to raise awareness about violence against women. It features t-shirts decorated artistically by survivors, co-survivors (family members and friends of survivors), and advocates for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, representing these women and hung out on clotheslines in a public place. The sight is eerie and powerful.
The training I’m doing is hard, but important. It’s crazy when you look around and realize that so many people you know (and don’t know) are affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. We’ve been holistically discussing the societal roots of these issues, their legal and medical aspects, and how to be an effective advocate for survivors. CPAF, the organization doing the training, provides culturally sensitive and Asian language-specific services for survivors,  including emergency (temporary) and long-term shelter and a multilingual telephone line for support and crisis. From what I know so far, it’s a great organization, and I’m hoping to volunteer on the hotline once the training is done.
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