I had never been to the Rose Bowl for a concert. While I was a UCLA Bruin, I melted in the stands with my friends as we cheered our football team on during home games. But this experience was different. I was surrounded by thousands of screaming tweens and teen-aged girls. Their excitement was palpable and the decibel levels grew almost unbearable. Seeing my daughter singing and dancing with her friends made my heart smile, despite feeling exhausted from my summer of hellish business travel.
It was a beautiful summer evening in Pasadena, filled warm air and framed by clear skies. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking about all the press coverage on domestic violence in the NFL. A Ray Rice video had just exploded on to our TV screens and monitors. The video showed Rice punching Janay Palmer, who married him a day after the indictment was issued, and he was cut by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. The media also covered the recent story of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson being indicted by a grand jury on a child abuse charge for his method of disciplining his son, with a switch cut from a tree. This violence didn’t surprise me. It angers me. It frustrated me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t shock me. What did shock me happened two rows in front of me at the concert, during one of the many pop radio hits that One Direction has.
Situated in the second row from the top, we had a lot of space to stretch out and dance. From my vantage point, I saw a few 20-somethings drinking the overpriced concession stand beer and neither saw nor smelled evidence of pipes, bongs or even vapes being smoked. This evening’s entertainment came in the form of a concert fueled by tween adrenaline and hormones.
Because of the warm evening air, the individual vendors found themselves busy. People in the stands wanted to buy the frozen lemonade, ice cold water and soda without leaving their seats. Towards the end of the evening, I saw a male vendor walking across the fairly clear seats to sell a bottle of water to mother with her two young girls. One of the adult concert attendees, a woman, was trying walk past the vendor to reach the clear section of bleachers. She tripped over something a bumped the vendor’s empty plastic tray that was strapped to his front, like a large marching band bass drum. I saw the 6’ 1”, 215 lb. vendor snap his head around, mouth something like “what the fuck?!” and reach his fist back all the way to Tallahassee and strike the woman on the back of her head, near the base of her neck. The woman went down, face first, and the vendor looked a bit taken back and surprised. It seemed as if he didn’t realize what he had just done but a split second later, he tore down the bleachers through all the singing and dancing One Direction fans and tried to get outside of the venue as soon as he could. The security guard to my left saw it happen and gave chase. The woman slowly got to her feet and stumbled back to her seat. Two of the four young girls she brought to the concert sat down, stunned and quiet for the rest of the night. The other adult with them didn’t say a word to the girls, she checked in on the woman who was hit and sat in the bleachers, doing nothing. I heard the woman say, “I think I’m bleeding,” and “I am going to find that ****er.” I found another security guard and suggested that she come over and escort the woman to find medical assistance and/or the police.
Honestly, I have no idea what came of the incident. It just brought all sorts of feelings up in my head and heart that night. My heart hurt for the young girls who saw their adult chaperone get pummeled. My heart hurt for the woman who was struck by a strange man who was in the employ of the concessions vendors and trusted to provide a service at the Rose Bowl. My heart hurt as I remembered being hit by a boyfriend when I was fifteen.
Domestic violence comes in the form of a variety of abuse. It might be psychological, emotional or physical.
On September 8, 2014, Elahe Izadi wrote an article in “The Washington Post” whose headline read: “Nearly a third of U.S women have experience domestic violence”.
More than 31 percent of women in the United States have been physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey”.
Intimate partner violence covers “physical, sexual or psychological harm” by a current or former partner, according to the CDC. In addition to experiencing physical abuse by a partner, an estimated 22.3 percent of women (and 14 percent of men) have experienced severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
Among the most common types of severe violence women experienced by intimate partners: being slammed against something and being hit with a fist or hard object.
The survey also captured forms of non-physical abuse, with nearly half of women in the United States having experienced at least one act of psychological aggression by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. Psychological and emotional violence covers acts such as threats and coercion.”
If the statistics say “nearly 1/3 of U.S. women have experienced severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner” and I think of me and my two best friends from high school, those statistics hold true. We were all straight-A honor roll students, involved in school clubs, and varsity athletes. None of us came from families of divorce. We definitely did not look like poster children for domestic abuse. Speaking from my relationship, I thought I could change my boyfriend’s jealous thinking and love him enough to make him realize that he could trust me.
This is a very typical thing for young girls to do when they think they are in love, fix the broken boyfriend. Some girls rescue lost and abandoned puppies, I tried to “love” away the abuse that my first boyfriend grew up with from his alcoholic and cheating father. His emotional and
psychological abuse of me escalated to the point where he actually struck me, in the face, with a closed fist. My softball picture from high school stills shows the black and blue mark on my left cheek, he was right-handed. Thankfully, I did remove myself from that relationship and that situation and found support from a variety of resources. I sought good counseling and filled my time with lots of academic and athletic challenges to distract me. There are stacks of journals and poems to prove that and my biceps and quads got their birth back then.
As I said, domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked or denied. This is especially true when the bruises are on a person’s ego and heart, not on their skin. It is clear to me that being Asian prevented me from speaking up against
the abuse and seeking out help. I was ashamed and embarrassed and didn’t want to shame my parents, who didn’t approve of me having a boyfriend at all.
They say that noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. The bigger problem is to uncover why men in our society use physical and emotional intimidation. How do we prevent this cycle from repeating? How do we provide support to women who leave relationships with no income or means to shelter themselves? How do we stop abuse from happening at all? I witnessed a man strike a woman who was a total stranger in the back of head at a One Direction concert. I’ve been punched in the face by a man who said he loved me. Crisis centers, restraining orders and advocates provide very minimal protection. How do we stop domestic abuse from happening at all?