Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa

Monsoon was founded in August 2003 as a culturally specific Asian organization, serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and conducting community awareness activities and prevention work

Monsoon-United Asian Women of Iowa is committed to helping families of Asian descent in Iowa. The organization’s long-term mission is to eliminate domestic violence and sexual assault by promoting the social, economic, and political self-determination of all women.

Monsoon upholds every person’s right to live in a home and society that is free of violence and sexual coercion. Its specific focus is to address the cultural and language needs of immigrant, refugee and U.S.-born Asian women and their children.

Many Asian women living in Iowa face special challenges because of the cultural isolation, language barriers and the widely dispersed community in rural and urban areas.

Monsoon will function as a resource, advocate and support for Asian women, children and families affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.

For more information about Monsoon, visit


Hi my name is Thao Pham and I am currently a sophomore at ISU. I am working as a Peer-To-Peer Advocate and Outreach intern for Monsoon. I helped facilitate a discussion entitled “Intersections of Identity: Race, Sexuality, and Safety” two weeks ago with the help of the lovely and amazing Sloss Women’s Center staff.  My boss Mira Yusef (director of Monsoon) has truly been a great help in allowing me to do work in my areas of interest and helping me in any form that she can. The focus of the dialogue was on partner violence among queer women of color.  After hosting the dialogue, I reflected a bit about the topic. After hearing everyone’s comments, it furthered the notion even more that dating violence among queer people, nevertheless queer women of color are indeed very invisible. I had several people come up to me after the discussion to tell me that they never really thought about the queer community when they thought about domestic violence and sexual assault.

As an openly gay Vietnamese American woman of color, I’ve been interested in the topic of dating violence among queer women of color because of the different issues regarding intersections of identities that are present. A significant root of the issue is the heterosexism that is prevalent among our society. Why do we only see heterosexual males as the batterers and weakened heterosexual females as the victims or survivors? Why do the terms “survivor” “domestic violence” and “batterer” automatically assume gender roles? Another significant factor to input is race. Specific race/ethnicity(s) and cultures often don’t get linked to the terms sexual assault and domestic violence. I know that for Asian and Pacific Islanders, domestic violence and sexual assault isn’t generally thought of because of the stereotypes that exist that Asians are passive and quiet people. In reality, many incidents go unreported because of various barriers that hinder individuals from reporting any act of violence. These are important things to think about.

Another important issue to bring up is the media exposure of queer partner violence. It’s barely visible. Among the few media portrayals are scenes in the L Word, Noah’s Arc, and Boys Don’t Cry. Even with those portrayals, they are predominantly white and upper-class individuals. They are not exactly accurate or represent a diversity of communities. Even with issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, the hierarchy of privilege plays a significant role.

From personal experiences, I’ve had difficulty reporting incidents regarding bullying, harassment, sexual assault, and abuse because of my queer, gender, and cultural identities. Fear of community judgment and disclosing my sexual orientation were always huge barriers. I was already out to my family, but my family wasn’t ready for me to be out to the bigger community.”Saving face” and preserving honor among my family were values instilled in me at an early age. Because of my race and sexual orientation, I didn’t know how reporting incidents of same-sex partner violence would be received by anyone of a higher authority who may not be as sensitive to dealing with queer partner violence.

With Stalking Awareness month and Sexual Assault awareness month coming up within the next few months, more dialogue about these issues are increasingly important.

So this concludes my blog post for today….more will come later!!


Thao Pham


About Margaret Sloss Women's Center - ISU

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center promotes equity on the Iowa State University campus. Through a feminist lens, the center advocates for individuals and groups; provides support, referrals, community and programming; and maintains a safe space in the Sloss House.

Posted on December 13, 2010, in Activism, End Violence Now, Feminism, Queer, Sexual Assault Awareness and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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