Lived Experience: Aimee Choi

Read Aimee’s Story

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I come home after picking up Anna at kindergarten and when I arrive, my mother-in-law is in the house with my husband, Young. Young begins yelling and berating me. He tells me that I should have left work early so I could make dinner and greet his mother. I apologize and try to explain that if I left work early I could lose my job. Young tells me he wants me to quit my job and that he never wanted me to work. He reminds me that he works as much as he does so that I can be home with our children if I wanted to. He tells me that Nelson needs his mother and that sending him to preschool is selfish.

Finally Young tells me I am a bad mother. He says that Anna needs to understand how Korean women are expected to act. He turns his attention to Anna and starts yelling at her to get her brother a drink and to start helping me prepare dinner. I step in, and quietly tell Anna to go get changed and start her homework in her room and that I can make dinner. Young gets mad, and raises his hand as if he is going to hit me. Anna tries to step between us.  His mother jumps in and starts yelling at me, saying that I am a bad wife and need to take better care of her grandson and son. This infuriates Young even more, and he orders me to quit my job. He continues to tell me that if I do not quit my job tomorrow he will take the children away. He says that I will be sorry, very sorry if I do not obey him.

I take both children from the room to the kitchen where I begin to prepare dinner. I leave Young and his mother alone in the living room. This is not the first time he’s done this – we have this conversation often. This is the first time he’s felt like he could do it in front of his mother, though. I think I need to leave, but I don’t know how and I have no idea where I can go. There is a lot of shame in leaving the family.