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Flushing marches against domestic abuse

The Flushing community rallied Friday around the Korean American Family Service Center, a domestic violence support organization, in a show of solidarity against the prevalent form of abuse.

Domestic violence, a crime with 6,000 reported cases in Queens in 2009, according to the NYPD, was mostly kept behind doors for decades, particularly in immigrant communities such as the Korean population in Flushing.

But events like Friday’s rally, which was led by Korean leaders but welcomed people of all races and backgrounds, seek to bring the issue to the forefront of public discourse.

Held as a local kick-off to the national Domestic Violence Awareness initiative, the demonstration began with a silent march from the Queens Library branch on Main Street and Kissena Boulevard to the Union Street station house of the 109th Precinct.

After arriving at the precinct, several dozen activists joined with local leaders and neighborhood organizers to spread the message that domestic violence must be stopped at the community level.

“Domestic violence is threatening our community and it’s spreading like cancer, so the first thing we need to do is raise awareness,” S.J. Jung, executive director the MinKwon Center for Community Action, said. “And get out the message that domestic violence is wrong, and our community has absolutely no tolerance for it.”

A number of courageous domestic violence survivors also spoke at the rally, telling their emotional stories and the tales of their redemption through services such as those offered at the Flushing-based Korean American Family Services Center.

One such victim is GilWah Pang, a Flushing resident who fled from her husband after suffering countless episodes of abuse. She got the nerve to do so after an incident in which he dragged her into the street and beat her in public.

She is now a client in the KAFSC’s transitional housing program, where she can live for 18 months while taking job training and English as a Second Language and other courses to help her start a new life.

“I’m thankful for KAFSC and all the help they provided,” Pang said through a Korean translator. “And I’m hopeful that if there is anyone out there who needs help that they reach out and find it.”

Several dignitaries, including state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing), also spoke out against violence at the gathering.

“Domestic violence happens in every race and every community. People should speak out against violence, especially in Asian families, where they often just keep it quiet,” Koo said.

Grace Jungsooh Yoon, executive director of KAFSC, said people must continue to fight against domestic abuse in all its forms.

“This march will not stop here,” she said. “As a community, we’ll continue to speak out and work to end domestic violence.”

For more information about KAFSC, visit kafsc.org or 718-460-3800.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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