The Filipino Resource Center held a Domestic Violence forum in light of reported domestic violence homicides of three Filipinos within San Diego in the past three months.
Filipino Resource Center director, JoAnn Fields In partnership with San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, the Filipino American Law Enforcement Organization and the Filipino American Woman’s Club attempts to address the issue of domestic violence as an attempt to break the cycle.
This domestic violence forum is the first in a series of forums as an initiative to end the cycle of domestic violence abuse targeting women. The next forum is scheduled for Nov.19 at Southwestern College.
“Domestic Violence doesn't discriminate in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation. It is across many many cultures. But yet, we find if you are able to provide services in a culturally competent manner it really builds trust and it helps the community reach out for help and escape from violence,” Stephan said.
Missing Chula Vista’s mother of three Maya Millete’s case circulated the media in the nine months of her disappearance and has developed heavy publicity with the arrest of her husband, Larry Millete.
Maya’s sister Maricris Drouaillet spoke on the impact domestic violence had in the household which trickled from the relationship, to Maya’s three young children and the extended family.
“ I didn't know it was a triggering effect. If I could have known, I would have intervened more. All I could tell her is when she consulted a lawyer to be careful. Let them know that there are resources out there. Let them know you are with them and you are going through the same tunnel as them,” Drouaillet said.
In April, Jay Barcelona stabbed his wife Rhonda in their Lemon Grove home during an argument. Most recently, Ali Abuluban was charged with murdering his wife Ana, and her friend Raymond Barron at their East Village apartment. Both female victims in these cases were Filipino women attempting to end their marriages.
Over 17,679 incidents of domestic violence were reported to law enforcement in 2020 and is considered one of the most underreported crimes according to authorities. The county has seen a decline in domestic violence homicide in the past four years due specialized teams dedicated and trained in trauma-informed care for prosecution and protection of victims countywide.
“So many victims do not report domestic violence because of shame, holding onto family and because so many cases of domestic violence begin with love so they hold out hope that the relationship is going to turn around. It won't get better without counselling and psychological care. It can get worse,” Stephan said.
“It’s an uphill battle with these kinds of cases,” said Deputy District Attorney Justine Santiago in addressing prosecution in domestic violence cases. Oftentimes, domestic violence cases do not exhibit red flags. However there may be triggering events that lead up to abuse such as a deteriorating relationship, divorce and child custody.
“These cases happen behind closed doors. Sometimes it’s verbal abuse, sometimes it’s mental abuse. Sometimes there aren't scars that they can use to show something happened so their hands are tied a lot of the time,” Santiago said.
Prosecutors said many markers and red flags of domestic violence are similar across all cultures and may have a ripple effect expanding past the family and into the community at large, placing an emphasis on the importance of handling domestic violence cases in a culturally competent manner.
“A lot of Filipinos are very religious and one of the most difficult things can be to even fathom the idea of divorce. Those are the different dynamics that are played when helping and prosecuting the cases,” Santiago said.
Resources can be found on the San Diego District Attorney’s page on domestic violence which include hotlines, guides and education surrounding forms of abuse in intimate partner violence.