|Linda Chin, President of the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence|
ATASK came into existence to address the needs of Asian domestic violence victims who can fall through the cracks due to language and cultural barriers. For example, many Asian communities traditionally believe that what happens behind closed doors should stay private, and thus they can resist outside assistance.
Linda Chin, current president of ATASK, has an extensive background in healthcare and previously was senior vice president for planning, marketing and public relations at the Cambridge Health Alliance. She answered some questions from Color Magazine about her organization and the work they do on behalf of the Asian American community.
LC: The Asian population has grown in Massachusetts and New England significantly since 2002. We've responded by increasing service capacity - now our direct service staff speaks over 12 Asian languages and dialects. We are also doing more work with children - direct services to children impacted by violence and outreach with our message, 'Peaceful Homes Let Children Soar.'
JC: My understanding is that ATASK works solely with women and children. Have any men reached out to your organization either with their own concerns about committing potential violence or as victims themselves?
LC: Our client population has included men. We do not directly provide batterer intervention services for men or women, but refer to other community agency partners that provide these services. We have wonderful programs for youth - teen dating violence and youth empowerment programs - where young men are participants and become peer leaders in promoting healthy relationships.
JC: How does ATASK assess those family situations that have not escalated to violence but are extremely problematic nonetheless?
LC: Our education and outreach staff work in Boston, Lowell and throughout Massachusetts to raise awareness and offer access to our services. We encourage individuals to not be bystanders if they know of violence in their communities. We have a 24-hour multilingual helpline, and calls to our advocates are answered within 24 hours. Advocates are trained to do intake and assessment of a range of risk factors and situations.
JC: What has been the most difficult decision you have had to make since you assumed the role of ATASK president in 2008?
LC: We had to significantly trim our budget a few years ago because of reduced funding and it was very hard to lose employees.
JC: Where do you see ATASK in ten years?
LC: I wish I could say we'd be out of business because violence was no longer an issue. But realistically our vision is to build our quality and effectiveness as a local provider and to be a national model with global impact. And we're on our way to doing so. In the past two years we've been selected as one of the eight organizations in the country by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for our teen dating violence prevention programs and the only in Massachusetts to receive two Federal grants, for domestic violence services for culturally and linguistically accessible programs and transitional housing. We're also building opportunities for the next generations, services for children and youth, to break the cycle of violence, and to be a training ground for professionals who are experienced and passionate about working on domestic violence in Asian populations.