5.36% increase in Asian communities statewide correlating to 9% of Austin’s population drives at 12%+ demand for the organization’s culturally responsive services
AUSTIN, Texas—Asian Family Support Services of Austin—a nonprofit organization that provides free, confidential assistance to Asian and other immigrant families dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking—has announced events and initiatives planned to address the surge in demand for its services due to population growth as well as to celebrate its first thirty years of operation.
The United States Census Bureau reported that the state’s Asian population grew by 613,092 people since 2010. The Asian population now makes up 9% of Austin’s residence, with the second-highest number of people moving to Austin in the past decade. As both populations continue to grow, so does the diversity within these groups as does their need for culturally responsive resources to address domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking. This will require more funding and more community as well as corporate—and legislative—support, according to Asian Family Support Services of Austin leadership.
According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, domestic violence related-homicides throughout Texas increased by 23 percent during the pandemic. 204 Texans were killed by intimate partners in 2021, the 3rd highest number of intimate partner homicide in the last decade. Seven of the homicides were in Travis County. Also, based on statistics from National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) Immigrant victims are frequently threatened with deportation by their abusers, increasing their reluctance to seek help from the authorities or services.
“In our 30th year, we’re committing to meeting the challenges these survivors face, but we cannot do it alone.”– Darlene Lanham, Executive Director
This ongoing threat of deportation, whether from the abuser or because of federal immigration policies, also means that many victims are at an increased risk of being separated from their children, which also makes it less likely that they will seek help.
Accordingly, Asian Family Support Services of Austin has seen a 12.2% increase over a five-year average in clients seeking domestic and sexual violence services. The organization has met that need by ramping up outreach, community education, and prevention activities by as much as 50% reaching over 7,400 individuals by tabling at festivals; leading small group info sessions/presentations through partnerships with congregations, and with schools; creating safe spaces online to connect folks with information and resources; and trainings with professionals who are responding to Asian, immigrant survivors including Austin Police Department cadet class, other law enforcement resources, shelters, and health systems et al.
“The pandemic spikes in domestic violence and the terrible incidents that made headlines to which ‘Stop Asian Hate’ was a response were really just the visible corners of this broad, deep, and complex set of issues for the multifaceted Asian community in Central Texas,” said Darlene Lanham, executive director of Asian Family Support Services of Austin.
The FBI reported a disproportionate increase (73% over prior year) in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 , since the pandemic started. Most Asian people in the U.S. feel that violence against them is rising; 45% experienced an incident of discriminatory targeting based on their racialized identity . In 2021, API women’s unemployment rate increased again from 6.6% to 7.9%. Asian women face the highest rates of unemployment in the pandemic .
She continues, “In our 30th year, we’re committing to meeting the challenges these survivors face, but we cannot do it alone. That’s why we’re enlisting the support of everyone in this community—including would-be referral sources aka neighbors and loved ones, corporate leaders, elected officials, and journalists to shine light into the darkness of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking in our Asian populations. Our mission is to also make more inroads into influencing public policy at the local and national level.”
AFSSA served clients and communities in 39 languages in 2021 . There are 19,497 Limited English Proficient people in the region, and 54,158 people who prefer to speak their home language . The most frequent languages of the LEP-identified regional population are Korean, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, and Taiwanese), Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Arabic. AFSSA is the only culturally specific service provider that provides interpreters for all languages.
30th Anniversary Open House Event (October 16)
Asian Family Support Services of Austin is holding a free and family-friendly open house event at the Asian American Resource Center (8401 Cameron Rd, Austin, TX 78754) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 16 to celebrate the richness of the Asian communities across Central Texas and also the importance of healthy relationships. Spokespeople will be available for media comment.
Silk Road Gala (November 5th)
The organization’s major annual fundraising event, Silk Road Gala, has been announced for November 5 at the Fairmont Hotel with co-chairs Lesley Varghese and Dr. Harry Thomas. The occasion not only raises essential funds for the mission, but is a celebration of Asian and immigrant culture and community—this year looking back over the past three decades and ahead.
Vyasar Ganesan of “Indian Matchmaking” and Hema Mullur, Emmy Award-winning anchor of CBS Austin, will emcee the gala. Asian Family Support Services of Austin has confirmed that over 50% of tables are sold and limited sponsorships are still available before October 18, 2022.
“If you’re a central Texas employer, AFSSA’s Silk Road Gala is a unique opportunity to support the fastest growing population in our community, said 2022 Silk Road Gala co-chair Lesley Varghese. “AFSSA is one of just a handful of Austin nonprofits serving the AAPI and immigrant community, and the only one focused on survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking. We congratulate AFSSA on an incredible 30 years of this vital work.”
Dr. Harry Thomas, 2022 Silk Road Gala co-chair added, “Lesley and I are proud to co-chair this year’s Silk Road Gala. Among many services, AFSSA provides a 24-hour hotline and emergency assistance for families across Central Texas in 39 different languages. It is a literal lifeline for so many women and children. Your sponsorship keeps this resource available to our community.”
Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Policy Fellowship and Academy
Asian Family Support Services of Austin is also announcing that they have been awarded a Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Policy Fellowship, which they will use in partnership with a coalition of regional and Texas-wide organizations serving Asian populations dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking.
Launched in 2010, the Hogg Foundation Policy Academy and Fellows program increases individuals’ and organizations’ capacity and expertise to advance mental health policy in Texas, while also increasing the survivor voice in policy development and implementation.
Through the program, the foundation awards ten organizations a two-year grant to employ a mental health Policy Fellow (a recent graduate of law, social work, public policy, public health or related field) or a Peer Policy Fellow (an individual with lived experience of mental health and/or substance use conditions).
AFSSA has hired Clarice Cross, who received her M.A. in International Relations, ICT and Media from Waseda University in 2021.
“Following the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important now, more than ever, to break the stigma of mental health in Asian culture and address the needs for access to mental health services in the Central Texas region. I look forward to finding ways to overcome the cultural and systemic barriers Asian survivors face and continue to build resilience in the community,” Clarice said.
Asian Family Support Services of Austin
Asian Family Support Services of Austin, or AFSSA (founded as SAHELI in 1992) is a nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas, that provides free, confidential assistance to Asian and other immigrant families dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking. The organization’s multilingual and multicultural staff with our own interpreters provide services in 39 different languages in the following Central Texas counties: Travis, Williamson, Hays, Caldwell, Lee, Fayette, Blanco, Burnet, Llano, and Bastrop. The agency provides 24/7 hotline, safety planning, counseling, housing, prevention education, and system advocacy to all parts of Texas and outside of the state for those who cannot access similar services within their local jurisdiction. They are known to assist people internationally as well.
Friday Genung (they/them)