By Kiara Alfonseca
May 5, 2021
The surveillance footage of the assault, which is being investigated as a hate crime, went viral.
Though Kari’s focus has been on recovering physically from her serious injuries, her daughter Elizabeth said they’re beginning the process of healing from the trauma together. Kari still has yet to leave their home, her daughter said.
“It’s been a long road to healing both physically and emotionally,” Elizabeth said. “She went through some of the psychological questions like, ‘What did I do? Did I provoke him?’ and I’m like, ‘No, you didn’t do anything.’”
Elliot was arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault. He had been previously convicted of murder in 2003, according to the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and authorities say he was released on parole in 2019. He is being held without bail and has a court date on May 10. He has not yet entered a plea.
Kari, an immigrant from the Philippines, said she is not ready to speak out personally about her trauma, but instead allowed her daughter to speak on her behalf.
She’s just one of thousands of Asian Americans who have been reportedly targeted in a recent wave of hate crimes and bias incidents across the country. While reporting on hate crimes often focuses on the impact on victims and communities, stories about the path forward for victims and the healing process are heard less frequently.
With her daughter by her side, Kari and many others are faced with a long path ahead toward recovery and healing. Together, the two have been donating to anti-hate organizations and seeking out the warm words of their loved ones to begin their journey forward.
Reported crimes that targeted Asian people rose by nearly 150% in major U.S. cities from 2019 to 2020, according to a study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
And Stop AAPI Hate, a national organization against anti-Asian hate, recorded roughly 3,795 hate incidents from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021. This number doesn’t represent the entire landscape of anti-Asian hate in the U.S., the organization said, since it only tracks the incidents recorded to their hate reporting center and many incidents and crimes go unreported.
Kari initially wanted to work on her healing alone and in secret, according to her daughter, who says she reminded her that the assault was part of a larger wave of anti-Asian hate.
Moving forward from hate
Evangeline Chan, a co-chair of the Safe Horizon AAPI Affinity Group, said that the hardest part about being a survivor of a hate crime is knowing that someone was attacked for something they cannot change — their identity.
“If you’re targeted based on your race, religion, sexual orientation or other protected ground — that’s something that is so intrinsically fundamental to your identity that you can’t change,” Chan told ABC News in an interview. Safe Horizon is a nonprofit organization that offers support to crime victims. “So that just results in the sense of helplessness over the victim, and a sense that this could happen again,” Chan says.
She said that survivors of hate crimes or hate incidents are likely to experience trauma, anxiety, depression and PTSD in a way that’s different from victims of other types of crime because of how personal the attack can feel.
Dr. Michi Fu, a licensed psychologist and professor at California State Polytechnic University, said that hate crime survivors might see the symptoms of trauma in small aspects of their daily life. Lack of sleep, change in appetite, or inability to focus can all be signals of a body that is processing trauma. Paying attention to your body and changes in your day-to-day habits is key to being able to address them, Fu said.