An Open Letter To Nan-Hui Jo | #DearNanHui #StandWithNanHui #Not1More

March 12, 2015

Dear Nan Hui campaign

Today, the Stand With Nan-Hui group launched a letter-writing campaign urging supporters to write letters of support to and for Nan-Hui Jo, who was recently found guilty of child abduction for escaping an abusive relationship with her daughter. This is my letter to Nan-Hui Jo; you are invited to write yours

Dear Nan-Hui,

You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. In many ways, our stories are different. I am ethnically Chinese, not Korean. My first language is English. I have not (yet) been married. I am not (yet) a mother.

But in many ways, our stories are similar. Like you, I am an immigrant and an Asian American woman. Like you, I’ve had to navigate the complex web of U.S. immigration law just to maintain my life here, and like you, I’ve felt the fear that comes with the possibility of falling out of status. Like you, I’ve lain awake at night terrified that I have run out of options; that I am trapped; that there’s nobody who will help, or will even understand what’s happening.

I can only imagine how much harder trying to survive U.S. immigration law would be when also a survivor of domestic violence. As immigrants and women of colour and with already so few options available, I can only imagine what it’s like to have the possibilities further limited by having to secure not only your own physical safety, but also the physical safety of your child.

They say that domestic abuse is about exerting power. I think it is about weaponizing fear.

nan-hui

Over the last month, you have stood trial against a prosecution that seems to fundamentally misunderstand the dynamics of domestic abuse. They argue that ‘it wasn’t that bad’. They argue that ‘it only happened once.’  They say what he did to you was normal, or understandable, or brought upon by you.

Domestic violence cannot be normal. It can never be understandable. Violence is never a victim’s fault.

They don’t understand that domestic abuse is not just defined by what happened, but about instilling the fear of what could happen next. They don’t understand that this is terrorism. They don’t understand what it’s like to live everyday in that fear. They don’t understand that children grow up sensing that fear, too. They don’t understand that just being forced to witness domestic abuse between parents is, by itself, traumatizing for a child.

I believe you were right to want to escape your situation, and to save your child from what that life could have become for her.

What makes me angriest about your story is how little people understand about domestic violence, and how much less they are willing to learn about it and its survivors. What makes me angriest about what is happening to you is how they are trying to make you look like a bad partner and a worse mother. What makes me angriest is that in your trial, they blamed you for surviving your abuse.

I want you to know, Nan-Hui, that there are people — lots of people — who stand with you. There are many of us who believe that you were trying to find the best of a limited number of terrible options: one that would not only guarantee your safety, but the safety and care of your daughter. I want you to know that there are many of us who believe you were convicted not because you are a bad mother; rather, that you were convicted because you are an amazing mom, and the justice system was wrong to find you guilty because of it.

It takes courage to see the danger in someone you love, and this country makes it almost impossible for women to act even when they recognize that danger. You made the difficult choice to escape; in so doing you acted to save yourself and your child from a situation you believed was dangerous. Then, you rebuilt your life – one that your daughter has not only been safe in, but has also thrived in – from the ashes.

I am amazed and inspired by your story, and your obvious, fierce love for your child.

I can only imagine how dark the future looks for you right now. But, while I know this letter can never substitute for a reunification with your daughter,  I hope my words can serve some tiny comfort and reminder to you right now.

You are understood. You are believed. You are not alone.

Yours in strength and love,

Jenn of Reappropriate.co

Act Now! Please view these guidelines for adding your own letter to the #DearNanHui campaign; and, of course, please continue to share Nan-Hui Jo’s story and tweet your support to #StandWithNanHui.

  • disqus_uY4qdf1Xbx

    Dear Nan-Hui, like you, I am a parent. Unlike you, I have never tossed my baby at another person’s head. I have never done this because it is a form of child abuse. I have also never done this because, babies are not like cats, and do not land on their feet when you throw them. If the other person fails to react in time to catch the baby, the baby will hit the ground and most likely be injured permanently. Some people, such as the author of this article, may refuse to acknowledge this abuse on your part, or may excuse it by saying it only happened once. Some people will let you justify your child abuse and kidnapping by letting you hind behind the label of domestic violence. I, however, will not excuse you. There is no justification for child abuse or for throwing an infant.

  • Alex Noubs
  • She did not throw her child. Jeebus. You’ve just hit a new low on victim-blaming.

  • Is there some specific reason you linked this?

  • Alex Noubs

    It reports that Nan Hui did toss her child, according to testimony.

  • Alex,

    The Sac Bee chose to report a version of those events based only on Jesse Charlton’s testimony, while also omitting Charlton’s testimony that he does not believe that the pass off was intentional or that the resulting collision between the baby’s head and his chin was also intentional.

    Meanwhile, it’s important to weigh that version of the events against Jo’s testimony, which is that she handed the baby to Charlton, their heads collided, and as a result Charlton violently grabbed Jo by the neck and threw her against a wall while holding the baby with his other hand.

    By comparing the two, the most likely version of events is that in the heat of an argument, Jo roughly and quickly passed the baby to Charlton in a manner that he was not expecting. Because of that, the baby hit her head on his chin by accident (the accidental head contact being the agreement between both testimonies), and the baby was also received awkwardly since he was not expecting to receive the baby at that moment which may have given him the impression that the baby was ‘tossed’.

    He reacted with an incident of domestic violence that physically endangered both mother and child. (I mean, really, are we really going to argue that grabbing a full-grown adult and throwing her against a wall while holding a baby isn’t physically endangering to that baby?)

    Please be aware that by taking the “throwing” narrative at face-value, you are choosing to believe not only just one side of story, but a more extreme version that even this person offers of the incident.

  • disqus_uY4qdf1Xbx

    Again, if a baby falls from standing adult height, it will be permanently injured. Lets assume it was a “pass off.” Even so, if you hand off a baby to someone in a rushed, irresponsible manner, that is reckless and negligent. There is no excuse for that kind of incompetence with an infant. You do not “pass off” a baby with making sure the other person is ready. Any responsible parent can tell you as much. Go ahead and try this surprise pass off with someone’s baby and see what kind of reaction you get, Jenn. Child abuse due to ignorance or incompetence is still child abuse. You have hit a new low on excusing abuse. Jeebus.

  • Alex Noubs

    “The Sac Bee chose to report a version of those events based only on Jesse Charlton’s testimony, while also omitting Charlton’s testimony that he does not believe that the pass off was intentional or that the resulting collision between the baby’s head and his chin was also intentional.”

    Can you source this? I have been looking for more information on this, and most of what I can find in formal newsources is a copy/paste version of the sacbee report.

    “By comparing the two, the most likely version of events is that in the heat of an argument, Jo roughly and quickly passed the baby to Charlton in a manner that he was not expecting.”

    What is the basis for the assertion that this is the most likely version of events?

    From what is reported on davisvanguard.org , it is described as a “shove” at best, and a toss from a distance exceeding arm’s length.

    “In another incident, Mr. Mount said that Ms. Jo accused Mr. Charlton of cheating and threatened to go to Korea. Ms. Jo reportedly shoved the baby at him, causing them to collide heads. Mr. Charlton responded by throwing her against the wall by the throat. This was the end of their living together.”

    http://www.davisvanguard.org/2015/02/kidnapping-trial-did-mother-flee-to-korea-out-of-malice-or-fear-of-safety/

    “On October 18, 2009, Mr. Charlton and Ms. Jo had a second argument that became physical. Mr. Charlton became upset to the point that he told Ms. Jo that he was going to leave. He did not want to continue fighting in front of the child. Ms. Jo responded, “No, you’re not leaving. I am.” She then tossed the child at Mr. Charlton from a little more than an arm’s length away. The back of the child’s head made contact with Mr. Charlton’s face. Their daughter proceeded to cry.”

    http://www.davisvanguard.org/2015/02/testimony-began-friday-in-korean-mother-trial/

    Dangerious way to handle a baby, even when it is characterized as a rough hand-off. It looks even worse to any reasonable person, when you factor in that it was done to keep Charlton in an situation he was trying to leave.

    This does not excuse what Jesse Charlton did next:

    ‘Mr. Charlton chased Ms. Jo, grabbed her by the throat, and threw her up against a wall. He briefly choked her and said, “You can’t do that”‘

    Yet by the same standard, it does not excuse what Ms Jo did to her child, and how she tried to abscond with the child, given that Jesse Charlton did not stay in the home after that, by his own volition.

  • disqus_uY4qdf1Xbx

    The only victim here is the child, and I have not blamed her for anything.

  • Solargreenman

    From the reporting it does not appear she passed the child in a non-abusive way. It is true that Jesse attempted to justify the violence of the pass/shoving/tossing of the child by saying it was ‘in the heat of argument’. It seems his character is quick to forgive (note: justifying another’s actions to forgive them is a common but unnecessary and often harmful step).

    Why the attack of the character of disqus… I thought that type of attack was frowned upon here.

  • Horangih Gomtoki

    http://horangihgomtoki.blogspot.com/2015/03/south-korea-between-north-korea-and.html

    South Korea between North Korea and Korean-America. What Is To Be Done?

  • I’m not saying dropping a baby from an adult height isn’t dangerous. I am saying that both parents testify that the “pass off/toss” situation was not intended, and that the resulting head collision was an accident. It’s hard to label that as abuse, unless we’re also going to argue that a child who hits his or her head on the coffee table that wasn’t padded is also child abuse?

    Meanwhile, would you also agree that throwing an adult person against a wall while simultaneously holding a baby also constitutes equivalent danger to the baby of dropping it from an adult height?

  • Put another way: is throwing or helicoptering your baby in the air, or carrying it on your shoulders, like many parents do, also abusive because it is reckless and negligent? The fall from a standing adult height is equally a risk with those activities.

  • Solargreenman

    “how does Jo’s actions justify Charlton’s domestic violence of Jo?”

    Jo’s actions do not justify Charlton actions. Charlton’s actions did not justify Jo’s actions of domestic violence.

    In the report of Charlton’s testimony (which is not actually Charlton testimony but a report of his testimony which is an important distinction to make) Charlton states that he does not believe Nan-Hui intended to hurt the child and that she acted in the heat of the argument. I am sure that if asked Charlton would testify that he also did not intend to hurt Nan-Hui and acted in the heat of the argument (and if he intended to hurt her I am sure he would of based on him being physically larger and stronger). Lets also not forget that after this incident Nan-Hui was not frightened of Charlton and they still spent time together (foolish on both parents parts). Certainly this incident should have gotten Jo and Charlton into co-parenting counseling even if all the other signs were ignored.

    Was the testimony also that Jo was using the baby to prevent Charlton from leaving as he was trying to leave the argument? A child is not a tool to be used to manipulate the other parent and doing so is abuse.

    The coffee table analogy is absurd. A child hitting his or her own head on a coffee table is not analogous with a parent forcefully shoving a child to the other parent. It would be more analogous if a parent in anger shoved a child’s head into a coffee table which would again be abuse.

    The physics of a “hail mary pass” of the child are also absurd. It is very simple to toss or shove a 10 kg baby arms length and would not take much force.

    http://www.stopchildabduction.org/US_Child_Abduction_Stats.html

  • Your attempt to equivocate here argues that Charlton accidentally grabbed Jo by the throat and threw her against the wall. Is this your argument?

  • Solargreenman

    Are you trying to equate playing with a toddler to forcefully shoving/tossing a baby at the other parent out of anger in an attempt to use the child to control the other parent? Absurd.

  • Solargreenman

    I don’t understand how you get that. To me it looks like 4 abusive actions. Following your line of thinking Charlton should have just taken the baby and absconded because he would never be treated fairly by the courts.

  • disqus_uY4qdf1Xbx

    One bad act does not excuse another. Charlton is a survivor of incredible violence, but his PTSD does not justify violence towards another. Jo is a survivor of an act of domestic violence but that does not excuse her child abuse or kidnapping, or denying Charlton his parental rights for 5 years. Just as you can write Charlton off, and make endless excuses for Jo’s transgressions, so to can people write off Jo and make excuses for Charlton. For the most part, they are morally equivalent. The difference is, you somehow want the deciding factor to be their gender. And that is sexist. And one day, if you become a parent, you will know, when you hold that tiny, fragile baby in your arms, that dropping a small infant is infinitely more damaging than shoving an adult. Every month of development counts in the physical durability of a baby.

  • what?

  • Well that makes clear your biased reading of that incident since that matches the testimony of neither parent. Both parents testify it was an accident with no malicious intent.

    Only -you- claim it was a deliberate act.

  • Solargreenman

    I was not present for the testimony so I cannot say what Charlton testified too. This is what I read of the reporting of Charlton’s testimony at http://www.davisvanguard.org/2015/02/father-testifies-in-kidnapping-trial/

    “Charlton vehemently denied that it was just a “hand off” of the baby. He began to raise his voice at this point and was visibly upset. He claimed that he wouldn’t have “freaked out if it was just a hand off.” He also added that he did not believe Jo meant to do it either, but that it was just in the heat of the argument.”

    Did any organization report the testimony you are claiming to have witnessed where Charlton claims it was an accident with no malice and recants his claim that Jo’s ‘hand-off’ ‘was in the heat of the argument’? Can you send me a link?

    It is telling that Charlton attempts to justify Jo’s actions. Obviously he needs more counseling. It is harmful to justify an abusers actions in such a way.

  • Solargreenman

    This is really how it appears. I believe the baby was about 1 year old at the time of the “rough handling” or whatever you want to call the abuse. Obviously Charlton should not have ‘freaked out’ at that and retaliated.

    I question whether the opinion of Jo’s supporters is that had Charlton not ‘freaked out’ that he should have taken the baby and went into hiding because of the abusive mother and because fathers and children do not get treated fairly in court. Are Jo’s supporters on this blog supporting a female over a male simply based on gender.

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