“We feel afraid for our safety, emotionally traumatized, elder abuse by yelling, shouting, videotaping, and spitting at our elderly mother when she is in her own backyard. We are on edge, constantly fear intrusion into our home, cannot sleep well at night, unable to walk outside due to fear for our safety.”
Those are the words of one individual from Villa Park, Calif., reporting being “terrorized by a racist offender who lives next door to us.”
Hate incidents against Asian Americans over the past several months have taken a substantial mental-health toll, a new report says — sometimes generating more stress than the actual pandemic.
About one in five Asian Americans who have experienced hate incidents show symptoms of racial trauma, or “the psychological or emotional harm caused by racism,” according to the report published by Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition and reporting center launched last year to track anti-Asian harassment, discrimination and violence in the U.S.
‘Reporting their experiences of racism seems to have served as a coping strategy for some Asian Americans.’
But reporting their experiences of racism also seems to have served as a coping strategy for some Asian Americans, it added.
“Heightened fear, perceived danger, and feelings of helplessness many Asian Americans feel as a result of increased anti-Asian hate, and which impact their mental health and social connections, are particularly troubling,” the report said.
“At the same time, it is important to recognize and further promote Asian Americans’ healing and resistance practices, such as reporting and seeking social and community support,” it added.
Meanwhile, people who have experienced anti-Asian discrimination are more likely to say it’s a top source of pandemic stress than they are to cite other concerns such as quarantine or social distancing, impact on their family, and physical health.
They’re also more likely than respondents in a national comparison group of Asian Americans to say this discrimination is their greatest stressor (72% compared to 34%).
‘We are on edge, constantly fear intrusion into our home, cannot sleep well at night, unable to walk outside due to fear for our safety.’
— incident reported to Stop AAPI Hate
Another study included in the report found that Asian Americans who had experienced discrimination were also more likely to report experiencing depression, anxiety, stress and physical complaints than their counterparts who had not.
And a third study in the report found that Asian Americans who had perceived experiences of COVID-19-related discrimination were three times as likely to report post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms as those who hadn’t experienced discrimination. The study controlled for lifetime reporting of discrimination and existing mental-health diagnoses.
One subject’s 8th grade daughter was “teased and humiliated by schoolmates to run away from ‘Kung-flu/Coronavirus,’” wrote one person from Concord, Calif., in a report to Stop AAPI Hate. This person’s daughter felt ashamed to be Asian and scared to go back to school afterward, the person added.
With that said, people were less likely to show symptoms of race-based traumatic stress, including hypervigilance, depression, lowered self-esteem and avoidance, after reporting the incident to Stop AAPI Hate — suggesting that “reporting is one important strategy for Asian Americans to cope with hate incidents.”
Almost one in three people who experienced racial trauma in the aftermath of a hate incident no longer met the trauma criteria after reporting it, the research found.
The fear of experiencing racism in the future could keep some people from tapping into resources they need.
But not everyone may be able to get the help they need, the report added, noting that fear of experiencing racism in the future could keep some people from tapping into resources they need.
Asian Americans who are undocumented, elderly, less proficient in English or have low income also face obstacles to accessing medical care, the authors said.
The analysis drew in part from a Stop AAPI Hate survey conducted earlier in 2021, which followed up with 413 people who had reported anti-Asian hate incidents as of November. A study of 3,736 Asian Americans conducted by the Asian American Psychological Association this year served as a comparison group.
The report also used findings from the National Anti-Asian American Racism Study, which surveyed 565 Asian Americans last June, and from the first wave of the COVID-19 Adult Resilience Experiences Study, which was conducted last spring and included 211 respondents who identified as Asian American or Asian.
Reports of violence against Asian Americans across the country — including the shooting deaths of eight people at three Atlanta-area spas, six of whom were women of Asian descent — have helped draw national attention to anti-Asian attacks and discrimination that have risen during the pandemic.
Biden last week signed into law a bill that would expedite the Justice Department’s review of hate crimes and have the department issue guidance for state, local and tribal law-enforcement agencies on hate-crime reporting, data collection and public-education campaigns, among other provisions.