Our sisters in Laos are joining our efforts to end gender-based violence. They created a life time spiral of Hmong women’s experiences and shared this reflection:
“Gender violence begins in the womb, as soon as father’s know the fetus is female, the pregnant mother is neglected by her husband. The pregnant mother continues to work hard, but often she is emotionally distressed which effects the fetuses health. Then the cycle of violence continues for a girl child through adulthood. Learning that gender-based violence is not just a woman’s unfortunate situation or bad luck helps us understand that as a community we can do something to stop violence against women and girls. Individually it helps us prevent violence in our lives.”

Our sisters in Laos are joining our efforts to end gender-based violence. They created a life time spiral of Hmong women’s experiences and shared this reflection:

Gender violence begins in the womb, as soon as father’s know the fetus is female, the pregnant mother is neglected by her husband. The pregnant mother continues to work hard, but often she is emotionally distressed which effects the fetuses health. Then the cycle of violence continues for a girl child through adulthood. Learning that gender-based violence is not just a woman’s unfortunate situation or bad luck helps us understand that as a community we can do something to stop violence against women and girls. Individually it helps us prevent violence in our lives.”

I thought it would never happen to us; to me

For all you young couples, don’t think that just because you and your spouse are young this won’t happen to you. Wrong! My husband and I are in our 30s. I never thought my husband would ever do something like this, but in the end, he “DID” it.

My husband was introduced to tojsiab.com by a co-worker. This co-worker is older in his 40s or 50s, and he would tell my husband about how great young girls overseas are, and always compared them to U.S Hmong girls/women. Soon my husband started sneaking behind my back to go online.

The sad part is that eventually my husband behaved this way in front of our two wonderful boys. He would go online to tojsiab to get names, email addresses, and phone numbers. One day my youngest son told me that daddy was on a website talking to someone whose name he couldn’t pronounce, so he wrote down the name for me. I didn’t ask my son anything when he showed me the name.

That was the beginning of my hellish journey. With the name in hand I went to my husband’s co-worker, recalling that my husband said this co-worker had just recently brought a 15-year old wife here to the U.S. At the time, my husband even said his co-worker was crazy for doing something so selfish. The co-worker had forced his wife out, and married someone younger than his son and daughter-in-law.

I never thought it would happen to me.

My husband doesn’t care about what people think of him. We’ve had a million arguments about this situation.

One morning a girl called my husband and I answered his phone. The number is strange so I knew it must be from overseas. I asked who she was, and how she got my husband’s number? She raised her voice and asked who I was. I kept my cool and just kept telling her to not call again. In the months that followed, my husband neglected our relationship more and more. One day, I found a photo of a girl in a risque pose. We argued about it.

He became less and less careful, and soon I found MoneyGram receipts. I found three reciepts with her name on it. He had sent a total of $800 in a two month period. We are not rich, and I was mad and so disappointed. He was so upset about having to pay $300 for our oldest son’s glasses; how could he do this?

We have had many verbal arguments since this began; he even wants me to hit him, but I remind him, “Dear husband you are an orphan, please chose your actions carefully. Know that your friend is only teaching you to destroy your life. It’s only a fantasy that you are chasing, because the young people overseas are not after you for love. We are not rich, and you could be saving for our boys college education, but instead you are building a web of lies.” My words just fall empty….

My husband secretly bought a ticket to go meet this girl, and even made hotel reservations for two. I dug around and found out, and confronted him, but he said he was only going to visit his his aunt and uncle. This is not possible since they both died during the war. He then canceled all his hotel stays, and now he refuses to tell me where he is.

He is now overseas. I am devastated. I know you will wonder why I just don’t leave and divorce him. I feel angry, hurt, confused, but frozen. I know my husband will not return home the same husband, but it’s not so easy to just leave. As a Hmong woman, everything is ours to lose. It may sound like an excuse to stick around, but you can struggle with it when its you that faces this situation. For now I’m choosing to press on. I will end my story here. I wanted to share my story because I know so many younger women think this could never happen to them.

I wished no one else would have to go through this, but I am afraid this is not the end of our community’s story. Unfortunately, men are not teaching men what it means to be good fathers, good husbands, or good partners; and, instead they support each other to do these kinds of things.

"Hmong men are…" This PSA provides voices from Hmong men on the issue of domestic violence and the practice of abusive international marriages/relationships that harms so many Hmong families. Domestic violence is not just a woman’s issue, but all of our issues. We must stand together for healthy and safe families all over the world. Together, we can end this harmful practice.

"Hmong men are…" Watch our brothers stand for what is right. Domestic violence and the practice of abusive international marriages/relationships are not just women’s issues, but all of our issues. We must stand together for healthy and safe families all over the world. Together, we can end this harmful practice. 

A Hurting Family Story

Hi, I am a Hmong American man in the late 20s. When it comes down to Abusive International Marriages, I have seen it in person from a secondary viewpoint, as a child. In the Hmong community, a Hmong man can treat his wife however he wants, and the wife has no say in it. A Hmong man can hit his wife, marry as many wives as he wants, and treat her like a second-rate person and it is okay. But I am here to say that as a Hmong man it is not okay! Everyday even until this day, I struggle in my own family with domestic violence and Abusive International Marriages and here is my story.

As a child growing up, I never had a relationship with my dad. He was verbally and physically abusive to my mom, siblings, and I. Being the way he was, we all grew distanced from him. He was a terrible husband to my mom and was constantly hitting and cheating her on.

I can still remember being a small child; my dad would hit and beat my mom over some of the smallest things. One incident was when they were flirting with each other and she accidentally hit him. He then beat the mess out of her. I can still remember the moment when that happened and I got front row seats to that scene. It is still stuck in my head even to this day. I wish that it will go away. I have seen my mom trying to take her own life a couple of times, because she couldn’t stand being with my dad anymore. She tried to take pills and stab herself, but thanks to the wonder of God that it never happened. When I was a child, I didn’t know what was going on, but as I got older, I started to understand everything better.

Things did not get any better when I was a teenager. My dad was still the same old him, but less physically abusive. He will still hit my mom occasionally, but then he knows that his sons will come to their mom’s aid and protect her. He knew that he would be outnumbered with six protective sons and there was only one of him. One night, my parent got into an argument and it got pretty bad. All of us kids came running down the stairs to the living room and all we saw was our mom sitting on the couch and our dad was yelling at her and he eventually hit her. All of us were in shock and then he tried to hit her again and my oldest brother came running at him and pushed him out of the way. My dad turned at my oldest brother and they got into an argument. At the end of the night, my grandpa and uncles came over trying to settle the dispute between them, but this only caused a greater distance between my oldest brother and dad.

One year, my dad decided to go along with some of his co-worker buddies and start an online dating account trying to see which Hmong women or girls they are most compatible with from Laos. As we all know, one thing led to another and he was having an affair. I remember logging onto his email account and saw a picture of his girlfriend at that time and him being photo-shopped together. It was shocking to me and extremely disgusting. Ever since my mom found out that my dad was having an affair with a lady from Laos, they were constantly arguing all the time. This had also caused us kids to lose a ton of respect for my dad, if we had any from the beginning. My dad had gone to visit his girlfriend a couple of times and he lied about it, but we knew what he was doing. We just act like we didn’t care, but it affected us dearly.

I soon left for college and things at home did not get any better. Every time that I came back home, I would hear something new about my dad and his girlfriend or that my parents got into another argument. My dad had stopped helping his kids financially and spent all of his money on his girlfriend. My mom will ask him for help, but he didn’t care and used the excuse that he thought that he had some of the worst children on the planet. Soon enough, he went to Laos and married his girlfriend. That put a huge impact on the destruction of our family, but we saw that coming.

Once words got out to the Hmong community about my dad, people started to look down on us. Some people blamed us kids that we weren’t these “ideal kids” that my dad wanted, so it was our fault that my dad did what he did or my mom wasn’t a “good enough” wife for him. For the ones that know the truth about everything, they knew that it was his fault and not ours. Whenever my brothers and I want to talk to a Hmong girl, we will be labeled as “a guy who is going to cheat on his wife,” so no Hmong girls will want to talk to us or the parents will tell their daughters to stay away from us. Talking to a Hmong girl had become hard. Society can be so cruel sometimes, but this didn’t stop us, because we knew that God was on our side.

My dad eventually legally divorced my mom so that he could bring his wife from Laos over to the States. My mom wasn’t strong enough to put up a fight and let my dad and his wife into her house. Relatives didn’t care to do much either and when we kids voiced our opinions; it didn’t matter, because we are “just a bunch of kids that knows nothing about life”. So my dad had things his way and this had torn the family even more apart. Nothing was solved and the only thing that happened was, it is okay to have “two” wives in one house. In my opinion, my mom is not bound to my dad anymore, because they were divorced through the court and through papers, all ties between my mom and dad has been broken, but it seems as though that it is not the case.

Daughter in law raising very young half siblings of husband

My husband and I are raising his half siblings ages 12 and 10 for the last 5 years.  My father-in-law married their mother when she was 18 years old from Thailand, they were married for about 10 years before they officially divorce he is now 68 years old.  They had 3 children together.  My father-in-law is a careless person when it comes to his children, he neglects them and continue traveling constantly and re-married again to another young lady in Laos.  When I married my husband little did I know I would become a mother to his two half-siblings and later our 3 children.  This had created a hardship for my husband and I both emotionally, mentally, financially, and physically.  Because of my father-in-law immature behavior and poor relationship with the children’s mother we are stuck picking up the slacks for the children. Our relationship problem stems from raising the 2 children, his father’s constant financial issue and now health issue.  The mother refuse to raise the children and now my husband has a sense of responsibility to raise these two children.  It is something I am not ready or prepare to do even though I have only been doing it for the last 5 years.  Everyone is suffering because of his selfish decision to exploit what he believes he is capable of doing and now that he has made his bed he is not going to sleep in it.  I learn the hard way  which battle to fight and which war I can only win either way my family suffers.  International marriages like these are not only poisonous, abusive, and exploitative to the immediate family members but even to the future children they will have together.  Please stop this violence