Domestic violence is still one of those behind-closed-doors, dirty little secrets in an epidemic number of homes, rich and poor. Not only fear, economic dependence and social pressures perpetuate it; cultural barriers are also a factor.
Tonight's new, multilingual public-service docudrama, "About Love," debuting on KSCI-TV (Channel 18) at 11 p.m., was created to educate and aid spousal abuse victims in Asian-Pacific communities. It will air in English tonight; subtitled presentations will air in Korean on Monday at 9 p.m., in Vietnamese on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., in Mandarin on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. and in Japanese next Saturday at 11 p.m.
Before and after each showing, victims will be urged to get help; they'll be given an 800 number to call where they can talk to in-studio counselors in their native languages about referrals to community help agencies.
Based on actual spousal abuse cases--as a Los Angeles deputy district attorney, writer-producer Patricia Kinaga gained her knowledge firsthand--the film centers on Jeanette (Emily Kuroda), who seeks refuge in a multicultural women's shelter when her husband's violence puts her in the hospital.
In the shelter, she learns about her legal options and learns also to understand how the cycle of abuse works. In the film, her father, himself a wife-beater, has no sympathy for her and tries to shame her into keeping quiet when she decides to testify against her abuser in court: "How can you imagine talking in public against your husband?" he asks her and blames her for making her husband "so mad."
Jeanette's mother, however, quietly supports her, saying of her own plight, "I come from a different time. . . . This is my life, but it doesn't have to be yours."
Co-directed by Kinaga and Eric Swelstad, the film, an all-volunteer effort, is given emotional resonance by its professional cast. Breaking the cycle is not made to look easy, but possible.