Photo provided by Lan Pham.
Photo provided by Lan Pham.

Domestic violence victims should never feel like they’re alone. Survivor and advocate against domestic violence, Angela Flores, a pseudonym, spoke about her experience.

Flores has faced huge changes and challenges in her life ever since she and her ex-husband separated. Raising her two children has been difficult. She has to worry about finding a day-care for her children and how she will pick them up at the end of the day. Her finances have also become increasingly unstable.

“It’s been very hard, going from being totally dependent to being independent,” Flores said of her transition away from her ex-husband.

Flores arrived to the United States from the Philippines in 1992. Her immigration status was in limbo for a while, and she says her ex-husband had used that status to control her. She says she didn’t know what was going to happen to her and was stressed out all of the time.

“Dealing with the legal system is really scary,” Flores said.

She felt helpless and often lost hope due to her ex-husband’s controlling ways. She felt like a robot because she was told what to do and how to do it. He controlled the way she dressed, the way she put on her make-up and restricted her from having friends.

“I felt like I lost my identity,” Flores described her then life.

She sought refuge from the Asian & Pacific Islander Women & Family Safety Center which offers support services to women and families seeking to remove themselves from the abusive situations they’ve had to endure.

Flores says she now feels stronger and tougher. “I know the signs (of domestic violence) and can control my emotions better,” she said.

“Right now, I feel relieved and happier and I feel like I have a lot of hope and I can see the horizon,” she said.

Flores says she always thinks about her children. Their safety is her priority in life. “I have to live life to make it safe for my children,” she said.

But despite her traumatic experience, she admitted that she doesn’t blame victims who stay with their abusive spouses because they are financially dependent on them. She explains that it can be difficult for women to survive on their own in a foreign country.

The advice she gives to people is to not give up and get help wherever possible. “They should always think about the safety of their children,” she said.

The Safety Center provides an array of support services to domestic violence survivors. Resources are available for women and families to recover from their experiences. The majority of the center’s clients are Filipino but there are Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese clients as well, according to the Safety Center.

Executive Director of the API Women & Family Safety Center, Lan Pham, defined domestic violence as a “pervasive issue that affects all of us either directly or indirectly.”

Because October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” the Safety Center holds their annual anniversary celebration to remind community members of the ongoing support that is needed to end violence in the communities, as well as to honor the people who have been at the forefront of the local ‘Violence Against Women’ work.

The Safety Center will have their Sweet Sixteen Anniversary Dinner and Auction on Oct. 17 at the Showbox in Sodo.

This year, the center is recognizing Velma Veloria as their first “Organizing with Passion” award recipient for her legislative work in instituting the first anti-trafficking law in the state of Washington.

Pham said, “Ending violence cannot be accomplished by survivors or domestic violence advocates alone.”

She encourages everyone to acknowledge Domestic Violence Awareness Month by looking at how each individual is able to work towards ending violence in our community.

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