Q&A with Robert, AACI Asian Women’s Home Shelter Volunteer
Robert’s story is incredibly powerful. As a child growing up in Baltimore, he watched his mom endure domestic violence from his dad. Understandably, he grew up with a lot of anger inside him and joined the military after high school to get away from his dad. Robert moved to the Bay Area in 1988, where he graduated from SJSU with a BS in Electrical Engineering and has been a hardware engineer since then. After his father’s death, he went through therapy to overcome his anger, which was still present at the time. Today, Robert is 49, happy and finally at peace. He volunteers twice a week in our domestic violence shelter, being a comforting and friendly male presence to survivors.
Q: What are your duties at the AACI shelter?
A: At first, I was mainly doing physical work, cleaning up and organizing the garage and storage area. But after taking the Domestic Violence training last spring, I now do so many different things. I answer hotline calls, conduct intakes, and I am the shelter administrative assistant. I also help with special events. I distribute information leaflets in various languages to libraries, health centers, police stations, Asian supermarkets, etc. More importantly, I keep domestic violence survivors safe, provide assistance to women who are in immediate danger shelter, and help advocates conduct case management.
Q: What might one be surprised to know about you?
A (Laughing): I am a big teddy bear! Before volunteering, I was a bit nervous to be a male in a shelter with domestic violence survivors; I just want survivors and their children to feel comfortable around me. But my interactions with the AACI clients have been very good and rewarding!
Q: Why is domestic violence an issue so important to you?
A: I watched my dad beat up my mom as a kid. Back in the 80’s, there were no resources such as Asian Women’s Home, so it was a very hard time for my mom, my siblings and me. Later, I joined the military to be able to financially support my mom’s divorce. After my mom separated from my dad, I never talked to him again. Today, my mom is in a healthy relationship and I am very happy for her.
I wish more men knew about Asian Women’s Home and volunteered with Asian Women’s Home. I love being a male-face presence during our outreach events to show everyone can speak about the issue.
Q: What do you enjoy the most as a volunteer here?
A: The tabling events and being at the shelter with the staff and the clients. Veronica, the Volunteer Coordinator for the shelter has always made me feel very welcome and comfortable.
More importantly, I love helping survivors at the shelter and their children. Most children I saw at the shelter are very young and I am happy their mothers took steps to address the problem.
Q: What’s on top of your bucket list and what are your hobbies?
A: I love exercising and working out. I hike a lot, in places such as Rancho San Antonio, Mission Peak or Yosemite.
My dream is to end domestic violence. On top of my bucket list is to visit Paris.
Q: Any last words for someone experiencing domestic violence?
A: Don’t feel hopeless, resources are up there and we can help you!