Abusive International Marriage

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Abusive international marriage is a form of domestic and family violence when some of the following types of abuses are present:

  • Older men having relationships and marrying very young women (at times the age difference can be 20-50 years) creating a power differential that leaves young brides vulnerable to abuse.
  • First wives being forced into accepting legal divorces and standing to lose community property, child support, etc. without their knowledge, especially in pro se (self-represented) divorce actions.
  • Domestic violence that can include physical, sexual, economic and emotional abuses, and coercive control over the new wife, as well as the now divorced former wife.
  • Sexual assault of young girls and women perpetrated by men going overseas in order to avoid issues regarding sponsorship and marriage.
  • Overseas husbands making money by using their wives to lure Hmong American men into relationships with their wives.
  • Women prohibited/prevented from leaving abusers, especially if they want to take their children with them, because clan and familial norms are enforced by husband, his family and clans. (This doesn’t necessarily mean that these women want to leave the marriage)
  • Young Hmong men in Asia engaging in abusive international marriages by marrying older, vulnerable Hmong American women who are single, divorced or widowed.
  • Abandonment of wives or ex-wives, including pregnant wives, and/or children from both marriages by leaving them in Asia or the U.S. without any financial or legal recourses.
  • Adult Hmong American sons who marry a bride from overseas intended for their aging fathers.

Because the abuses in these marriages cross state and and international lines, these cases are legally complex, and many Hmong advocates have called attention to the lack of appropriate services for survivors. At the same time, the tireless and powerful advocacy Hmong advocates have done to speak out against harmful practices, and to build the capacity of their local programs to serve survivors of abusive international marriages, are testaments to their resilience and to the strength of their commitment to their communities.

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Building Our Future: a global community campaign driven by a caring network of change agents who are uniting to change practices, behaviors, and beliefs that contribute to gender-based violence, and to build healthy and safe families that thrive from generation to generation.