The Voice for South Asians affected by Family Violence  October 2022

Awaaz News & Updates

A Message from the Board

Dear Supporters,

Hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of fall. As we continue our work at Awaaz we are thankful for the reprieve from the unrelenting heat of Texas summer. Besides capacity building and working with clients, we have been concentrating on education and outreach this year. 

In August we hosted a Meet and Greet event where we made a presentation about Domestic Violence (DV) in general and in South Asian communities in particular. We showed a video based on a client’s story, made by Awaaz in collaboration with Pink Umbrella, a DV Awareness non-profit based in Australia. One of our clients, Anju, eloquently narrated her incredible story of trials and triumphs that left the audience gasping and inspired. Anju emphasized the need to have South Asian organizations such as Awaaz in our community, and gave a detailed account of how it took the proverbial village to get her to where she was today. 

Bharti took the lead in showcasing a few stunning pieces of Indian clothing for sale, while Jyotsna, Zehera and Madhu put together few unique items for an auction. Some of these auction items included hotel and travel giveaways, as well as photographs and paintings by local artistes made specifically for Awaaz. We will make an announcement before we continue the auction online. Once done, we will announce the donors’ names. For now, our heartfelt thanks to them. 

It was wonderful to see some of our community leaders at the event, including officers of the India Association and various South Asian regional communities of San Antonio, Patricia Castillo of P.E.A.C.E Initiative, and Judge Rosie Speedling Gonzalez. Hats off to our Board members and volunteers who organized and facilitated a highly informative and engaging event, both on and behind the scenes.  Heartfelt thanks to Madhu, Tapasi, Jitu, Jyotsna, Bharti, Hitu, Zehera, Shabbir, Bharat, Rita, Shashi, Prachi, Sathian, Tessy, Durga, Janell, Ashok, Samita, Harshita, Sharmi, and others.

In September we were at the San Antonio Bengali Cultural Community’s event called Milan. It was heartening to see so many people stop by our booth to get information about DV and Awaaz in particular. Special thanks to Tessy, Roxanne and Jibi for your work that day. Scroll down to view pictures from the event.

Our volunteers are the heart and soul of Awaaz. Without their continued physical help and moral support, Awaaz would not be able to survive. We had a chance to say thank you and hang out with some of them at the Olive Garden for lunch on September 24. One of the most enjoyable afternoons ever! 

We are thrilled to welcome 3 new enthusiastic volunteers who will use their expertise and experience in client advocacy, data analysis, and social media to help Awaaz. Those of you who have worked with us or sent us clients know that between working with clients and fulfilling our outreach obligations, we seldom have time for fundraising. Thanks to Madhu, Jyotsna, and our brand new volunteer recruit, Meghan, we participated in the Big Give drive 2022. We are getting ready for one more fundraising event this year, the Giving Tuesday, and request your help in spreading the word. Whatever you help us raise will go directly to help victims/survivors of DV in our community. 

We are grateful to the Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation for a grant to continue our work with DV. This is the second time that this organization, in their quest to end DV, has awarded us a grant that has gone directly to help victims and survivors.

Since October is DV Awareness, we are getting ready to participate in events, training sessions, and conferences in San Antonio and around the country. Will report back in the next issue!

Best Wishes,
The Awaaz Board

How Men Can Reduce DV

While the focus to help recognize and reduce the incidence of domestic violence is usually aimed at women, there are measures that men can take to reduce domestic violence. In an op-ed written by District 8 ouncilman, Manny Pelaez in the San Antonio Express-News, he points out several:
  • support organizations that educate about DV by  donating money or volunteer your time at local domestic violence  shelters and nonprofits like the Battered Women & Children’s Shelter.
  • encourage religious leaders and teachers to talk about DV and the resources available to women and girls in need of help. 
  • recognize intimate partner violence against our LGBTQ+  neighbors is just as serious a crisis. 
  • tell your government officials make domestic violence a priority and remind them you’ll be casting your vote for the candidates who take this seriously.
  • recognize and understand the domestic violence red flags. If you see something, say something. Don’t hesitate to call the police if you think someone is in imminent danger.
  • tell your children that it’s unacceptable to be bullied, shoved, slapped, threatened, controlled or disrespected by anyone.

To read the full article written by Manny Pelaez from the Express-News click here.


Are the Kids Alright? The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children
by Bianca Sapet

Most of us understand the effects of DV on children on a very fundamental level. Unfortunately, some of us understand these effects on a very intimate, personal level. With this article, I hope to provide some insight into the short and long-term effects DV can have on children.

To really understand the effects, it’s important to first understand the definition of DV. It is a pattern of behavior in which one person attempts to control an intimate partner through threats or actual use of violence, sexual assault, verbal, and psychological abuse and/or economic abuse. DV crosses all lines. In my experience as a DV advocate and previous DV shelter staff member in San Francisco, I can tell you that DV can happen to any person. The  residents at the shelter came from many different cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic  backgrounds. Some of the residents were as old as 16, while others were well into there 80s. Violence knows no boundaries. While the adult victim is experiencing the violence, the children are directly affected by it as well. 

Children are exposed to DV in a variety of ways. Sometimes they witness the physical or sexual assault firsthand. Some kids hear the violence, name calling, threats, disrespect, and intimidation. Our children can also feel the tension in the household. They can also see the aftermath for example, broken furniture, bruises on abused parent, and/or abusive parent being taken away by the police. In other cases, the child may have their own safety or well-being threatened with threats to kill, call CPS, or kidnapping. Some children are physically placed in harm’s way. After parents separate sometimes the abusive parent uses the child to relay messages or keep tabs on the abused parent. Unfortunately, some children are killed during an assault of the abused parent or can witness the homicide of the abused parent.

Let’s break it down by age. When infants and preschoolers are exposed to DV, it interferes with developmental tasks such as physical, cognitive (brain), emotional, and social. It can also cause trauma responses and alter brain chemistry. This can ultimately weaken the child’s coping skills. Here is an extensive list of other things that are affected: low birth weight, exaggerated startle response, somatic complaints, regression in toileting or language, sleep disturbances, difficulty attaching to a caregiver, hyper-vigilance, separation anxiety, and eating disorders.

School aged and older children are also affected by DV in a variety of ways. They will display other forms of behaviors indicating that the DV is affecting them. School aged and older children will display aggression, delinquency, anti-social behavior, hyperactivity, conduct disorders, academic problems, attitudes supporting the use of violence, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, social withdrawal, somatic complaints, trauma, and self-harm. Exposure to DV may have emotional and physical consequences for children depending on the frequency, severity, chronicity, proximity to the violence, age, developmental stage at which it begins, and multiple forms of violence.

What also matters is the presence or absence of a loving and supportive adult, the presence or absence of a supportive community, child’s individual temperament, and the opportunities for healing and success. Children are very resilient despite their traumatic experiences. The resiliency to trauma is connected to the presence of a healthy parent or adult in their lives. This  can be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, school teacher, counselor, spiritual guide, etc. You might be asking yourself how can I help kids become resilient after exposure to DV. You can help provide safety, a healthy relationship with an adult that supports them unconditionally, teach them about healthy relationships, help them find ways to express their emotions, provide a system of support for the child with meaningful opportunities for participation within their community, and help create opportunities for them to succeed.
I was raised by a Mexican immigrant mother and a Mexican-American father in San Antonio, Texas for the most part in a loving environment. My father struggled with his past traumas and current life situations. My parents were loving and could be very kind. However, my father at times chose to use words that hurt both my mother and myself. Many family members and friends knew my father as a kind and playful man, which he was too, but sometimes behind closed doors he’d say some very hurtful and abusive things to my mother,  especially that would affect me in negative ways. I know first hand that if children are exposed to any type of domestic abuse they carry it with them for the rest of their lives. It affects the way you view yourself and the world around you. I have worked very hard on not letting this past affect my present and future in a negative way but rather use it as fuel for healing and good things. This is also why I do the work that I do. I want to make sure that children aren’t exposed to DV, and if they are that we help them heal.

If you or a loved one are experiencing family violence, call or text Awaaz's free, confidential, and multilingual helpline at 201-446-6464. Calls will be returned within 24 hours by a trained advocate.

Featured Articles

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Past Events

San Antonio Bengali Cultural Community-Milan
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