Lending a Small Hand
Written by Camille Chuaquico
Monday, 01 February 2016 00:00

By Lily Ung

When we think about domestic violence survivors, many tend to conjure images of the women (and perhaps men) that were abused by their partner. However, APWC recognizes that oftentimes the biggest victims of domestic violence are also the smallest. Children who witness or experience violence in the home may have difficulties expressing their emotions or speaking about their experiences, complicating their healing process. Multiple studies have shown that memories are imprinted on the human brain permanently, and experiencing violence severely affects the development of the child exposed. Children who have experienced domestic violence may have difficulties learning, interacting with peers or show aggressive behavior. Cases of domestic violence often overlap with cases of child abuse, which complicates the healing process even more.

Children’s activity volunteers are crucial to APWC’s mission not only because they allow our mom survivors to attend counseling and case management appointments, but also because they become a part of the children’s lives and healing process. Children’s activity volunteers who interact with the same kids and youth on a regular basis often become akin to their peer mentors.

If you are interested in learning more about working with children who have been exposed to domestic violence, we’re always in need of children’s activity volunteers! For a glimpse of how volunteering with the kids at APWC can be like, read Lily Ung's story below:


Fresh out of college, diploma in hand, and the dreaded question: where do I start? All I knew was that I wanted to help people and thus, began my research. Domestic violence was not something I initially had in mind; it sat on the backburner of my subconscious. That was until I came across the APWC website.

Domestic violence, especially in the Asian and Pacific Islander community, is something that rarely gets talked about due to fear of being threatened and judged. The lack of resources and support is a huge problem when it comes to abuse and that’s when I knew I wanted to contribute. While I do not directly interact with the mothers, I volunteer as a children’s activities coordinator.

Before APWC, I rarely volunteered with kids and have never babysat so my experience in childcare was minimal. However, anxiousness and inexperience did not get in the way. I learned valuable skills and responsibilities, ones that are different when applied to children. Active learning played a big part in my experience. It is important that both the children and I get as much out of our bi-weekly meetings. I learned to do active listening--giving my full attention to the children and listening to what they have to say. Often kids’ remarks are brushed off since “they’re just kids.” But not so surprisingly, these remarks offer insight as to who they are, where they come from and what they are thinking. Critical thinking and quick problem-solving is crucial in such an environment where kids are involved. I try to implement social perceptiveness when the children speak the way they do to one another.

My volunteer experience with APWC was beneficial because childcare was new to me and I even ended up feeling a connection with the kids. I felt lost in the beginning, but through perseverance and support from the volunteer coordinator I was able to meet new people, gain experience, and best of all, watch the kids grow.

“You may not have saved a lot of money in your life, but if you have saved a lot of heartaches for other folks, you are a pretty rich man.” - Seth Parker

“We are not put on this earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you." - Jeff Warner

Volunteering, no matter how tough it starts out, ends up being rewarding. It provides you with so many opportunities that you cannot find elsewhere. It gives you a chance to meet different people. It’s cliché to say “you get what you give” but it’s true. I have gotten so much out of volunteering. It’s nothing materialistic either; it’s something I can cherish for the rest of my life. The best part about volunteering is that volunteering it’s a win-win. You get to help others and that results in positive emotions that enhance your psychological and physical resilience.

If you are interested in volunteering with APWC as a children’s activity volunteer or would like to learn about other open opportunities, please email the Volunteer Coordinator at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The Millennial’s Guide to Healthy Relationships
Written by Camille Chuaquico
Monday, 17 August 2015 00:00

By Camille Chuaquico

Who are the millennials? We are a generation of young people who are educated, career-oriented, and sexually-empowered. We have professional opportunities and life choices not available to generations before. We have witnessed that divorce rate is at its all-time high and have considered to put off married life until we are ready and more “matured”—somewhere between our late 20s and early 30s.

In the meantime, technology has become supplemental to instantly gratify our physical and emotional needs amid our busy work schedule. Tinder, OKCupid, Zoosk, Coffee Meets Bagel—name it, we have it! Our dating relationships are often described as fleeting, polyamorous, and non-committal. We have grown accustomed to accepting relationships along the lines of hook-ups, casual sex, and friends with benefits.

The irony is that our generation,  which puts greater weight in building careers over relationships,  is the same generation which believes in Disney fairytale endings and #relationshipgoals. Through swiping right or left, we feel that tinge of hope that hook-up sites would eventually find us our very own Prince Charming. Our favorite Disney movies led us to believe that there is such thing as a perfect relationship—an impossible expectation that frustrates us every single time and which is why we tend to not settle, constantly hopping from one date to another until… well, until we get tired of it.

At the rate that we are going—unable to grasp the idea of staying in a relationship, let alone being in a relationship because of ultra-fast dating turnover—we are confronted with a confusion of what really means to be in a healthy relationship. Regardless if you are exploring the world of dating or in a committed relationship, keep in mind the 5 C’s of a healthy relationship:

Communication is vital in keeping any relationship in tip-top shape. A healthy relationship provides a safe environment for couples to freely communicate their thoughts without the fear of being judged. Arguments are natural and unavoidable, but couples need to develop a level of communication in which problems are solved and no feelings are repressed.


Partners should know each other’s wants, goals, fears and limits. Do you and your partner know each other’s physical and emotional boundaries? Are you even comfortable discussing these with your partner? Here are our a few tips to improve your communication skills:

  1. Set the right place and time. Talk privately, away from distractions and public interruptions. Make time for face-to-face interactions.

  2. Listen. Communication is a two-way street. Make sure that you don’t only get your message across, but you also take what your partner has to say. Use acknowledging responses like “I see”, “Uh-huh”, “Okay”. Do not interrupt but take mental notes of questions that may arise from your partner’s exposition.

  3. Speak from the heart. Be honest. Do not sugarcoat things. Use “I” phrases like “I think”, “I feel”, “I need”. Focus on your feelings instead of making accusatory statements.

Consent is highly important especially in terms of sexual relationships. It involves clear, sober, conscious agreement to participate in sexual activities. Consent is invalid when it is coerced, intimidated, threatened, forced, or when given by a mentally or physically incapacitated persons.

Consent is never implied and cannot be assumed. Check in with yourself and your partner often to make sure that both of you are comfortable with what is happening, and respect the feelings that each of you have. Just because your partner gave consent to oral sex, it doesn’t mean they want to go all the way (and vice versa).  Just because you had sex the first time does not mean your partner can force you into having sex next time. You always have the right to say NO, and anytime either you or your partner says no, the other person must respect that decision.


Here are some helpful tips to practice healthy consent given by the National Domestic Violence Hotline:

  1. Talk about it! Communication is one of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship. Establish boundaries by explaining what things you and your partner are comfortable with and what things you may not feel comfortable with. Always ask first. Try phrases like:
    “Are you OK with this?”
    “If you’re into it, I could…”
    “Are you comfortable with this?”

  2. Be aware of the physical and nonverbal signs of consent as well. If your partner seems uncomfortable, talk about it and discuss it. Don’t assume that silence is them saying yes.

  3. Remember that giving and receiving consent is an ongoing process.

The 3rd “C” in a healthy relationship, confidentiality, might be tricky in today’s digital age. At what level do you want your relationship to be present in social media? Is sharing of passwords necessary to show a degree of trust? How comfortable are you about sexting and sending nude photos to your partners? These are some of the things you may consider discussing with your partner.


Loveisrespect.org gives a few helpful reminders on dating in the digital age:

  • Your partner should respect your relationship boundaries.

  • It is ok to turn off your phone. You have the right to be alone and spend time with friends and family without your partner getting angry.

  • You do not have to text any pictures or statements that you are uncomfortable sending, especially nude or partially nude photos, known as "sexting".

  • You lose control of any electronic message once your partner receives it. They may forward it, so don’t send anything you fear could be seen by others.

  • You do not have to share your passwords with anyone.

  • Know your privacy settings. Social networks such as Facebook allow the user to control how their information is shared and who has access to it. These are often customizable and are found in the privacy section of the site. Remember, registering for some applications (apps) requires you to change your privacy settings.

  • Be mindful when using check-ins like Facebook Places and foursquare. Letting an abusive partner know where you are could be dangerous. Also, always ask your friends if it’s ok for you to check them in. You never know if they are trying to keep their location secret.

The fourth “C” in healthy relationships is care. We all want to feel loved and cared for, don’t we? Caring is integral part of nurturing healthy relationships as it re-affirms your feelings for your partner.


People express that they care for one another in so many different ways. Gary Chapman, in his book The Five Love Languages, enumerates five ways to express and experience love:

  1. Gifts—e.g. giving presents that symbolize something special in your relationship, your partner’s favorite book, tickets to a concert, personalized scrapbooks and mementos, etc.

  2. Quality Time—e.g. a walk in the park, a Netflix binge-watch weekend

  3. Words of Affirmation—e.g. sending a simple text message complimenting your partner’s look or saying words of encouragement

  4. Acts of Service—e.g. taking out the trash, walking the dog, cooking your partner’s favorite food

  5. Physical Touch—e.g. physical intimacy, holding hands, kissing

Which of these languages do you speak? Take the quiz to find out.

While care is often used to better relationships, take note that an abusive partner may express any of the love languages in order to win a person’s heart.  Jealousy and lack of trust may be misconstrued as caring and some people find control as endearing.

Social media facilitates a culture of constant ‘checking-in’, where monitoring a partner’s movements can be done at the click of a button. This can further cloud our judgements into thinking that a certain level of control and surveillance is acceptable and a sign of caring. Keep in mind that caring can be either an instrument to express affection or a tool to control a partner’s behavior. It is important that you re-examine your relationship and recognize the subtle signs of abusive behavior.

Also, realize that the love language you speak may not be something your partner would be able to understand and give. Say, you like being given words of affirmation. But if your partner speaks a different love language--say, spending quality time--your partner might not be able to reciprocate the love language you would want to receive, and vice versa.

This brings us to the last “C” of healthy relationships--Compromise. Striking a balance between you and your partner’s needs and wants is key to a successful relationship. In the case of love language, it is important that both of you know each other’s love language and try to learn them in order to better communicate your care and appreciation for each other. Realize that it’s ok if your partner is not able to meet all of your needs at times your want them to, and vice versa.


Conflicts and disagreements may arise which is natural in every relationship. When differences come up, try to see the situation from your partner’s point of view and try to work through them together. Find a middle ground that can allow both of you to feel satisfied with the outcome. But be careful not to give up too much of what is important to you for the sake of a relationship. There are some non-negotiables such as your safety, independence, and values that you have to keep in mind when dealing with conflict resolution.

We often find ourselves clueless about a lot of things, including love and relationships. With all the ideas that social media, movies, and books feed our minds about relationships, we should be able to filter what is healthy from what is not. The key ingredients to a good healthy relationship are Communication, Compromise, Consent, Confidentiality, and Care. As part of the generation that allows young people access to information, support, and opportunities that previous generations didn’t get to enjoy before, we—more  than ever—are empowered to take control of our choices and engaging in healthy relationships.

8 Simple Ways to Stop the Culture of Domestic Violence
Written by Camille Chuaquico
Monday, 20 July 2015 00:00

What can you do to stop domestic violence?

By Camille Chuaquico

Cultural and social norms can either protect against or encourage the use of violence. The culture of domestic violence persists in society because it is deemed acceptable. Traditional beliefs that men have a right to control or discipline women through physical means makes women vulnerable to violence by intimate partners and places girls at risk of sexual abuse.

Challenging cultural norms to stop domestic violence can be approached at various levels including changing government policies, mass media, and education system. All of these may be out of our hands and may take a while to take effect. So what can we do as individuals to defy the culture of domestic violence? Believe it or not, there are eight (8) simple things you can do every day to end domestic violence.

  1. Recognize the signs of domestic abuse. Couples fighting occasionally is the norm, but domestic or dating violence is different from regular disagreements between a couple. Domestic violence occurs when one person in a relationship uses their power to control their partner. Domestic violence doesn’t necessarily have to involve physical violence - it can manifest in the form of emotional, verbal or even financial abuse. Abuse often happens in a pattern. If you are unsure whether or not you or someone you know may be in a domestic violence situation, it would help to look up the signs. 

    Awareness is key and one way to learn more about the issue of domestic violence is deliberately researching what domestic violence is, what a healthy relationship should look like, and how to seek help. You are on the right track. Keep reading!
    need help

  2. Be no stranger. Did you know that 1 out of 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime? So statistically, if you know 4 women in your life, one of them is, has been, or will be suffering from domestic violence. But this does not mean that domestic violence only happens to women. Men and the LGBTQ community experience intimate partner violence as well.

    What can you do about it? It’s pretty simple. BE A FRIEND. Check in. Strike a conversation. Have a listening ear. We all get caught up with our own life’s little dramas but it should not hinder us from caring about others, especially our loved ones who might need our special attention.

    Domestic violence is a sensitive issue and victims may be hesitant to tell anyone about it. You may be someone your friends can open up to if only you make an effort to reach out and check in with their lives. All it takes is one text message, or one phone call, or one chat message asking them “how are you?”
    you okay

  3. Respect. Domestic violence is a human rights issue involving men and women of all ages and socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation. To combat this, respect and promote respect for all people. Do not tolerate discrimination, violence, or degrading behaviors against anyone you perceive to be different from yourself. Support men to be empowered bystanders who can help confront abusive peers.

  4. Speak out against violence or sexist viewpoints when you are confronted with it in your daily life. When you hear a friend blaming a rape or sexual assault survivor during a conversation, by saying things like “She asked for it” or “It’s her fault”, arrest the situation. Instead of judging the victim for what she wore or why she drank during a party, tell your friend to blame the rapist for his criminal act. This might spark a debate between you and your friend, but hey, it’s an opportunity to get the message across. It’s the little things that we let slip by that permeate a culture of domestic violence and rape.

    A study conducted by a professor in Western Carolina University reveals that people who are exposed to sexist humor have shown tolerance of hostile feelings and discrimination against women. Words can create a culture of violence. Check your words before you blurt them out. And do us a favor, tell your friends to stop making offensive jokes as well.
    double standard

  5. Boycott any forms of media and entertainment that support violence, hypersexualize and objectify women. Examples are pornographic materials, video games, music videos, and other literatures that promote violence or are degrading towards women.

    You can even take it a step further and refrain from supporting places that tolerate the proliferation of such items. For example, theaters that tolerate showing of violent films or websites and YouTube channels that desensitize violence against women through music videos. If you feel like doing something more, contact media producers when something is offensive to you.
    fifty shades

  6. Like, tweet, share. Yes, cute cat videos are irresistible! But wouldn’t it be more relevant to share a video, an article, or a powerful quote that aims to end domestic violence? Be a strong social media advocate against domestic violence. Follow social media accounts of organizations whose advocacies are in line with yours. Like, re-tweet, and share their posts. Sign-up for their online newsletters. Better yet, invite your friends to like and follow the organizations you support.
    follow me

  7. Volunteer. There are numerous nonprofit organizations fighting domestic violence in their own ways and these organizations almost always need an extra helping hand in advancing their cause. There are many ways to volunteer! Looking after children while their mothers are going through counseling, tutoring, interpreting for survivors, blogging, events-coordinating--these are some of the ways you can volunteer to help domestic violence survivors!
    i volunteer

  8. Give. Declare a Starbucks frappucino fast for a day or two and donate what you save to nonprofits that work hard to end domestic violence. You cut on the calories, plus, you help a domestic violence victim in need.

Domestic violence is embedded into our culture simply because we, as a society, let it slide and become immune to the dangerous implications. It will take a lot of effort to shift toward a culture that turns away from violence and abuse, but it is possible if we stand together as one. It is up to us to help rid the world of domestic violence. We all have the voices and the power to do so, as long as we choose to stand up and speak out every day. Domestic violence survivors often suffer in silence before finding strength to seek help. What will you do to help end the suffering?


Working With Kids Who Have Been Exposed to DV
Written by Asian Pacific Women's Center
Friday, 29 August 2014 23:40


Working with children who have been exposed to interpersonal violence

"Interpersonal violence is defined by the World Health Organization as any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological, or sexual harm to those in the relationship. Violence is considered the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actually, against another person that results in a high likelihood of resulting in injury and/or psychological harm or death."

Did you know, that children of all ages including adolescents, are susceptible to the negative impact of Interpersonal Violence?
A common myth people have is that infants, young infants, or toddlers do not understand or remember violent scenes. However, multiple studies show that memories are imprinted on the human brain permanently and severely affects the development of the child exposed.

Here are 11 tips you should know while working with our child-clients (information provided by Futures Without Violence):

1. Establish a respectful and trusting relationship with the child's mother.
Many mothers have a deep sense of guilt about the violence their children have been exposed to. Mothers may take extreme measures to protect their children as a method of coping with this guilt. As a Volunteer, console the mother, tell her you understand her sense of reluctance, and assure her the child-client is in good hands.

2. Let mothers and children know it is okay to discuss what happened, and that children are open to engaging in discussions because we encourage healing.
Part of our goal, as volunteers in this organization, is to provide a safe haven to speak openly. Research shows that many children like to express their experience with IPV, but may not have the capacity to relay their message. We ask that you encourage safe speaking at APWC. These discussions are very important in helping children heal, please recognize that children may tell their story through various ways (ie drawing, reading, and in their playing styles).

3. Tell children they are not responsible for the violence.
Young children tend to view the world egocentrically. They often believe they are the ones to blame for the violence. Children who believe they are the root of the violence, often show more behavioral concerns than children who do not believe they are at fault.

4. Foster children's self-esteem by showing and telling them they are lovable, competent and important.
Being responsive to children's emotional distress and providing support is a way to practice being a positive role model. It also helps boost children's self esteem by informing the child they are competent.

5. Help children know what to expect.
Establish a predictable environment. This can be done by providing regular schedules, clear expectations and routines. This helps the child's sense of security and is important in helping them transition out of the shelter.

6. Model and encourage friendship.
Demonstrate positive interactions by treating others with respect and kindness. Children often pick up on your interaction with others, and can use it as a model on how to be a better friend. Children exposed to IPV have fewer problems if they feel accepted in their environment.

7. Use "emotion" words to help children understand how others might feel during disagreements.
Model emotional statements look like, "It looks like Timothy is sad that you did not share.// We do not hit because it hurts when you hit. // That made me upset." By using emotion words you assist children in developing emotional speaking skills while aiding them in understanding their words can hurt peers.

8. Recognize that when children are disruptive, they generally feel out of control and may not have the ability to use strategies to express themselves.
Children who were exposed to violence can show signs of anxiety, attention disorders, and insecurity. When children appear "out of control" please use a calm and respective tone. Do not reprimand the child but instead encourage them to talk about why they are acting out. You should be a model of support.

9. Incorporate family culture when exploring decision making and empowerment.
Culture is a huge part of self-identity. Culture affects the approach individuals may have and the way they communicate with the outside world. Please work with the culture instead of against the culture to encourage a speedier recovery process.

10. Actively teach and model alternatives to violence.
If you see two children arguing, guide them in solving the issue and respecting some one else's point of view. This will generate peaceful solutions rather than develop aggressive / bitter behavior.

11. Involve mothers in conversations.
Children have mixed feelings about their abusive parent many times. It is important that you respect the perspective of the mother as a model for the child-client. The child-client will model off of you and the perception you portray when communicating.

Trauma Informed Care
Written by Asian Pacific Women's Center
Friday, 29 August 2014 21:34

What is trauma and how does it tie in with your volunteer service with our organization?

It is very important that all of our volunteers, interns and staff are aware of the environment they are working in. Many of our survivors have endured traumatic experiences and are in the process of healing during their time with our organization. Our organization would like to provide you with the informational tools needed for trauma informed care (TIC). Trauma informed care is a new model we are implementing that focuses on hope, determination and empowerment. While working with our clients, we hope that all of you would exemplify characteristics in being a model for change by displaying healthy and competent behaviors. Please recognize that you are an important part of the support system during this recovery period because you are one of the few individuals our survivors can interact with during their stay with our organization.

You may be asking, "How can I incorporate TIC and be a part of this system?" The first step is to develop trust with the client you are servicing. Trust takes shape in many forms. To list a few: Being on time, being patient, listening, working on plans for expectations, informing them in advanced of changes in your schedule, or letting them know you may no longer be available due to new changes in your life. Communication and trust are major steps in trauma informed care.

This article is meant to inform and educate you on trauma informed care, the manifestations, and healing process. Watch the YouTube video below to learn about the background of trauma, the way it manifests, and the way it heals.


Trauma Informed Care

What is Trauma Informed Care (TIC)?
A change of practice on care that is based on hope, self determination, and empowerment. TIC stresses the significance of listening to the experience of trauma survivors. We give clients the tools to overcome trauma. TIC's mission is to never pressure the client into healing but to work at the pace of the client's well-being. This empowers the client to make decisions and minimizes the risk of re-exposing them to the experience they are healing from.

What are the Stages of Change our clients may experience?
Pre-contemplation: Clients will not acknowledge a behavior or problem.
Contemplation: The client will acknowledge there is a problem but is not ready for change.
Action and Willpower: The client will change their behavior for the better.
Maintenance: The client will maintain healthy behavior.
Relapse: The client will return to old unhealthy behaviors.
Transcendence: The client will Reinstate new and healthy behavior as an everyday lifestyle.

Guiding Values:
We encourage you to guide your interaction with our clients by communicating with compassion with the understanding that each client's experience is different. Please promote safety, embrace diversity, encourage strength and autonomy, and respect their basic human rights.

It starts with YOU.

You empower our clients by assisting them with educational and emotional support.
You embrace diversity by providing culturally sensitive communication.
You provide hope through listening and encouragement.