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Terminating the cycle of violence in Chinese families

I got flowers today. Today was a very special day.
It was the day of my funeral.
Last night, he finally killed me.
He beat me to death.
If only I had gathered enough courage and strength to leave him,
I would not have gotten flowers today.

In 1992,Paulette Kelly wrote the poem “I Got Flowers Today” for all battered women. Twenty years later, in 2011, an American mother named Kim “threw away” the “flowers”, causing uproar. Unlike most Chinese women, she made the domestic violence public.

Her husband is named Liyang, the founder of Crazy English in China, a famous English training institute. When he was four years old, he was sent back to his parents from his maternal grandmother, his parents were strangers to him. They often quarreled and were rude to him. As a child, he was shy, introverted, and afraid to meet strangers. Many people criticized Liyang, but few people noticed that he was a victim too. His childhood left a negative shade about marriage in his heart.

Liyang thought he was a victim too. He said Kim was partly responsible for the violence because she drove him to anger before and was wrong to make the family affairs public.He said:” Others fight everyday. Dad beats Mum, Mum beats Dad, parents’ beats children, don’t take the ‘beat’ as a big deal.”

Liyang told the turth about China. The word “educate” is written as “教”in Chinese. The seal style version is a child being beaten on the head with a stick. It is indicated by the cartoon-style “X” which symbolizes the striking of the child. This ideograph shows that Chinese think beating children is a kind of education; it is common in modern China that children are educated with a “strike” by their parents. People always say that” Strikes shape an obedient son.”

“Obedience” is another key word in Chinese family education, especially for girls. Children are encouraged to be quiet and obedient instead of asking questions and challenging authority. This kind of culture raises many silent victims. Last year, a recent sample survey by China Women's Federation showed that 16 percent of women admitted to be beaten, 14.4% of men admit that beat their spouses. A survey by a social work institute in Shenzhen shows that:“88 percent female victim will not ask for help after the first violence. They only ask for help until the violence beyond their tolerance.”

Actually, contrary to Liyang’s previous statement, the violence is “a big deal.” Liyang himself is an example of individual who was influenced by domestic violence. After witnessing violence or being beaten as a child, people are more likely become perpetrators of the "cycle of violence". The researcher, Jialun Li of Institute of Family Education National Chiayi University said in the article” Investigation of the Domestic Violence,” “The children perhaps assume that violence is the behavior of love.”

How to prevent the domestic violence? The most commonly used prescription is the law. In Nordic countries, such as Norway, Finland, and Sweden, the countries with highest status of women, a special bill in terms of gender has been developed, In Sweden, Women safety Protect Bill was launched to avoid women being hurt by domestic violence in 1998.
However, a survey by World Economic Forum showed that a new trend happened in Nordic countries: more and more men were the victims of domestic violence. In Denmark, three new Rescue shelters were established to protect men who are attacked in families. In Taizhong Taiwan, according to local court, 18% of the people who asked for habeas corpus are men. Does that mean the gender equality is promoted?

n my opinion, laws are not enough. The gender education in families is more important than laws. How the parents treat each other and their children will be inherited. Besides the violence between parents,boys are beaten more often than girls and girls are more often asked to be obedient than boys. That may be a reason why husbands beat their wives and wives maintain silence after been beat. If children are treated more freely, democratically, and equal in the Chinese families, Liyang would think that domestic violence is” a big deal” and more Chinese women like Kim will speak loudly when suffering family violence.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.



Stella Paul's picture


Dear Redsbird
We are neighbors. Yet we know little about each other due to our political differences. I am happy that through World Pulse, as VoFs, we can learn about the real truth about each others country, its issues and its people. I thank you for this piece. Sensitization leads to real awareness which in turn leads to tolerance and respect. Gender education is a good idea for families to do. Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

redsbird's picture

Yes ,I love India, I thought

Yes ,I love India, I thought India people are more happy because they still have the belief to buddhism, but Chinese was lost their belief due to the culture revelution. I love Bollywood movie and Yoga.

usha kc's picture

I agree with your opinion

I agree with your opinion dear . Family is first school and parents are first teacher so that family education on gender can play the role .

thank you for it.


redsbird's picture

So ,there is another

So ,there is another problem, who teach the parents how to teach the children?

malba66's picture

I love your conclusion and

I love your conclusion and take on how shifting cultural norms can contribute to addressing the issue of domestic violence in China. I agree with Usha. Family is your first education...

I just read Chinemu's piece and am so saddened (though not surprised) by the fact that so many of us STILL have to write about domestic violence... It's a perpetual cycle that doesn't seem to end anywhere in the world.

In the U.S., you certainly have domestic (physical) abuse, but even much more widespread emotional/verbal abuse and constant psychological assaults on women. The culture and media are generally complicit in these acts of socio-cultural violence.

We have so much work to do, STILL, across the world....

redsbird's picture

We have so much work to

We have so much work to do.Yes, In Chinese wide villages,the domestic violence is much more serious.

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Important Topic

Great lead! The poem really sets the tone for the op-ed. You bring up some great thoughts on why domestic violence is so wide-spread in China. I also like that you include the statistics on men being abused--although women are much more frequently the victims of domestic violence, we should not forget violence again men, and domestic violence in same-sex couples as well.

One thing confuses me at the start-you say Kim is American, not Chinese? So, is she an American married to a Chinese man?

Are there any campaigns to address domestic violence? It would be great to talk about that a bit more.

Keep up the great work!


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

redsbird's picture

Thank you. Yes,Kim is

Thank you. Yes,Kim is American, not Chinese. She is an American married to a Chinese man. And there are some campaigns to address domestic violence, I will revise the piece and add some sentences about this aspect.

noreens's picture

"How the parents treat each

"How the parents treat each other and their children will be inherited." Very true, and unfortunately the cycle is not being broken. I like the poem you started your article with. Good job!


redsbird's picture

Yes, we,the mothers can try

Yes, we,the mothers can try to broken the cycle.

ikirimat's picture

Gender stereo types

I agree with you dear, gender stereo types are taught right from our homes. Its us to break these kind of stereo types. This is one of the issues that the SHIP (sexual health Improvement Project) is trying to change among adolescents so that they grow up appreciating that they are the same socially.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

redsbird's picture

Thank you ,so what the SHIP

Thank you ,so what the SHIP (sexual health Improvement Project) do to make the change among adolescents ?

Okeny-Lucia's picture

You are right


I am so relieved to hear from your country,much is going on gender violence.To address this issue in Kenya,a bill was also moved to parliament and at one time it got a lot of noise from the men.Right now my country is having a serious issue of men being beaten by women for their lackof responsibility.It is going to be a while before gender education is applied in law.

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

redsbird's picture

Thank you

you said a bill was also moved to parliament, so what is the content about the bill?how is the progress now?

This article is very touching and universal in its theme as far as violence against women is concerned redsbird. First off, I do detest violence in any manner whether it is against a woman or a man. We must never condone brutality in any form. Chinese women are definitely not the only victims since this is indeed a sad commentary on violence against women all over the world. I absolutely can relate. Your article left me heartbroken especially when a perpetrator like Liyang feels abusing his wife was not "a big deal". While blaming his childhood home situation may be an easy way out, there is sympathy in my heart for him because of the way he was treated. No child deserves that kind of rejection from their parents. Additionally, he saw abuse and strife in his immediate family and felt it was an acceptable pattern to emulate. On the other hand, many others who grew up in extremely volatile family situations vowed to never hurt their life partner the way they witnessed their parents do to each other. Women must be educated about not accepting abuse from their spouses. Likewise, men should not accept violent behavior or brutal tendencies directed at them by women. Thank you for highlighting this unfortunate problem with such clarity. The poem at the beginning is so very touching, moving and totally prepares the reader for the message outlined in the rest of your essay.


JaneWells's picture

Thank you

Dear Redsbird,
I learned a lot from your OpEd. You got me interested right away through the poem and the story of Kim and Liyang. I was fascinated by the symbolism in the ideograph. You use it to make such a clear link between the images that construct the word and the actions that follow from it. Thoughts, words, actions: one part leads to the other, then back again. The behaviors become so embedded in culture that nobody notices them or recognizes that people could relate to each other in another way. Thank your calling our attention to such an important issue. Your use of a personal story combined with observations about society and empirical data is compelling. You also offer a way forward which provides hope and inspires action.


Greengirl's picture

Dear Redsbird

You rightly pointed out that the experiences children have while growing up influences their future. Kim did not just speak for herself, she spoke for all affected women in China and beyond. Victims need to know that they cannot afford to remain silent.

Domestic Violence is surely a big deal and it should stop!

Thank you for speaking too.


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