Victims Are Beat Down Before They Are Beat Up
This is a transcription of a recorded interview for our podcast The DV Discussion. It has been lightly edited for clarity. To listen to the original interview, check out our podcast on all major platforms or click on our ¨resources¨ tab.
Goldie: Thanks for having me.
Host: Thank you so much for being here. It is so important for everyone out there who is tuning in for our campaign. Can you please start just by telling us a little bit about yourself who you are and then we'll just kind of dive headfirst into your story.
Goldie: Yes, my name is Goldie Limbaugh. I am a 41 year old mother of 4. 10 years ago I started Jingle Jam 10 K, which is a nonprofit organization in Augusta, Georgia that raises money for domestic violence, education and awareness. I'm also a first generation Filipino American immigrant. I was actually born in Manila and then my family immigrated to Hawaii when I was about, I think, 20 months, maybe 2 when my father joined the US Navy, so my Filipino Father served in the US navy for 24 years. And I grew up in America, because of it.
Host: Don't you mean ‘Murica?
Host: And I grew up in ‘Murica even though America does not like how brown we are.
Goldie: So that's kind of why I don't have an accent. My name is Goldie. People will meet me or will talk to me on the phone and expect me to be this white blonde lady, and then they meet me, and I am full Filipino. I've got the flat nose, the almond shaped eyes, this thick black hair, the olive skin and they're like “Oh, you are not what I want you to be.” If I meet someone for the first time, sometimes they'll say things like, “You speak English really well” or my favorite is “Why don't you have the Philippine accent?”
Host: I've never gotten the accent one, but seriously. The ”Where are you from?” is really classic. “What are you?” Classic pickup lines. “Hey girl, what are you?” Like, really, you can try harder.
Goldie: Because my father was in the Navy, we lived in Hawaii, California. They were stationed in Japan for a while. Growing up Filipino in America. I think it's safe to say for a lot of first and second generation Filipino Americans that there is a huge culture clash. The way things are done in the Philippines are not things are done in America at all, especially when it comes to the expectations of children's behavior and what is acceptable behavior from parents. You and I were talking before we even went live, there's no boundaries when it comes to parents and disciplining their children and no one in the Philippines thinks about what is okay to say or do to your child. Is this discipline, or is this form of discipline harmful or beneficial? Nobody stops to think about all that. I remember my mother never telling me I was pretty. Never. Compliments from my mother almost never happened. And I don't know if she wanted to keep me humble. Now, I'm naturally gregarious, outgoing, over the top. Everything I do has to be. I mean you've seen my Instagram. Everything I do: Christmas cards, my 40th birthday, prom, Malaya´s (Goldie´s daughter) sweet 16, Jingle Jam 10 K, the way I manage the gym. Everything I do is 10 out of 10, over the top. Growing up and having those tendencies and having that personality, that's not the Filipino way. The Filipino way is not to stand out. The Filipino way is not to blaze your own trail. The Filipino way is not to be outspoken. It's to follow the crowd, go to CCD, and church every Sunday and go to confession, and don't rock the boat, and be modest, and be humble, and don't brag about yourself. Everything about me went against the grain, so there was this huge conflict between me and my mother. Almost from when I was a child, and because she didn't know what to do with me, I was the child that she had no idea what to do anything about. Because if she complimented me or encouraged me, then, I would just grow bigger in my ego, bigger in my personality, bigger in my tendencies. And her being super Filipino, from the Philippines, did not want that. So she disliked me a lot. She would put me down in very passive aggressive ways. “Well why can't you be like your cousin”, or “People think you're a slut if you dress like that”. She told me once that I would be pretty if my nose was pointy. When I started having children, she started saying, “Oh, I hope Malaya’s nose isn’t pointy.” I finally had to put my foot down, with the birth of my first child. “You are not going to talk about the way my children look, you're not allowed to talk about their bodies, you're not allowed to talk about their face.” Because I was who I was growing up and mom was who she was trying to raise me, there was no neglect in the sense of a mother purposely neglecting their children, but it was more of I'm just going to avoid her. I'm just going to let her play all the sports that she wants. I'm just gonna let her do what she wants in school. I'm gonna let her hang out with her friends. Because the less I have to deal with her, the less stress I have. With my father being in the Navy, she had a lot of free time and developed a gambling problem which most Asian American first generation parents even some second generation parents have. Either they adopted gambling as a pastime, and then it became an addiction or gambling was just always around at the Filipino parties or at weddings and funerals. I mean, literally, they would be playing mahjong or cards at funerals. It's such an Asian thing when I say, “Well, they were playing mahjong at whatever's funeral”, and white people are like, “Why would they play mahjong?”. Really, because that's just what we do.
Host: It's what we do.
Goldie: So mom had developed this gambling problem. I remember on weekends, we would go to one of her friends' houses and my brother and I would just literally be at this person's house for the entire weekend. Well, mom played cards from Friday to Sunday and then we would finally go home. It was bananas. I still can't believe nothing happened to me and my brother. Mom would take us to a casino in Las Vegas and then leave us in the arcade. This was like in the 90’s, you know, I'm shocked we never got kidnapped, but nothing ever happened to us.
Host: Cody! Quick, insert some 90’s music over this section please.
Goldie: I'll insert this music now.
Host: You know, I think your nose is beautiful. I think it's very funny that your mom wanted your nose to be different..
Goldie: When I was a baby, my mom looked at it. It’s so Filipino, it's gorgeous, it couldn't be more Filipino. It's okay, I don't have any hang ups about my nose or my appearance anymore, but I did for a really long time. It's wide so it's half my the middle of my face and then it's completely flat. It’s gorgeous, I mean it's got me laid a couple times...so.
Host: No, I think you're absolutely gorgeous. And what is it with our Asian mothers and our parents? My mom would actually pinch my nose to shape it.
Goldie: My mom said that she would, when my daughter was born. “You need to do this.” (shape the nose with her fingers). And I was like, “If it didn't work with me, what makes you think it's going to work with her?”. I remember having Roscoe, my son. There is an eight year age difference between my daughter and my son because my daughter was with my first husband, who was my abuser. And then I married my current husband and we have a son. I remember Roscoe, my son, being born. Then my mother came to visit. She meant it as a compliment, but she would always make comments about my body for some reason. I remember, she came into the house and I just had my son. She came in and she said, “Oh, it looks like you're losing the baby weight already. Good.” That's the first thing you say to me? The first thing you say to me after I gave birth to your grandson is about my body. That was your first comment. Then she would always say things like “Malayas getting boobs” or “Your hips are getting bigger”. I remember being around her sisters for a long time, and her sisters would make comments about my body and each other's body. Maybe that's Filipino culture I'm not sure. I finally had to put my foot down and say “You're not allowed to talk about my body anymore”. Oh “I just said, '' you lost weight”. “I don't give a shit what you said. It's my body. You do not have permission to comment on my body.” But because she's Filipino and she doesn't have boundaries, she didn't think that I was serious and also because I'm her child I'm not allowed to give her rules. It's a big thing in Filipino culture that no matter how old I become, how responsible I am, and how mature I am, because she's my mother and she's my parent, I can’t give her rules and boundaries.
Host: And it's at the point now where you're no longer speaking, correct?
Goldie: Unfortunately, we had a huge falling out two years ago, June 2019, actually. I took my parents to Europe on vacation. They joined me, my daughter, and my son. We went to London and Paris. We spent the entire day at Versailles in Paris. My son fell asleep on the bus back to the hotel. He had been playing. Versailles has these huge grounds and this water feature. We rode bikes around the property. My son was playing in the dirt so we got dirty. He fell asleep on the bus. I carried him back to the hotel and just dropped him in the bed, because that was our final night in Paris and then the next day, everybody was going to fly home. My daughter and I are getting ready and I thought my mom and dad were getting ready. My dad was like “Roscoe is dirty”. Filipinos have this thing about being clean all the time. I was never allowed to be dirty. Growing up, I was never allowed to play in the rain, I was never allowed to play outside. My kids are dirty all summer, barefoot all summer. I let my kids play in the rain. I let my kids play outside, have sidewalk chalk and do all those things. I was never allowed to have play doh. I wasn't allowed to use play doh in the house because they didn't want it to get into the carpet. I mean. There were a lot of things I missed growing up just because my mom didn't want the mess, because she didn't want to have to clean it up. So, my son is dirty as hell on the bed, and my dad is making a big deal out of it because he's Filipino, “This boy is dirty and I got to give him a bath right fucking now.” I'm like, “it's fine, he's exhausted.” I mean, this was a 10 day trip in Europe, my five year old son was exhausted. He kept pushing, and kept pushing and I finally said, “Just leave him alone!” So then, I walked into the bathroom (which is separate from the hotel room suite) and I heard my son scream and cry and my daughter came to get me. I walk out into the other bathroom, and my son is naked and crying on the floor. I said just like this, I said “dad what are you doing?” and he started yelling “He's dirty and he's making your bed dirty and he needs a bath and you're not getting him a bath!”. I was like “Oh, my God, I told you not to give him a bath. I told you to let him sleep!” But because they're fucking Filipino, because I'm Filipino, they don't think they have to respect me as a parent, as an adult. Because they're my parents, so they know more and better than me, no matter what, no matter how old I am, no matter how mature I am, no matter how many kids I have, no matter how many houses I own. So then, my dad and I got into a confrontation about him not respecting my parental authority. My mother, who wasn't even part of the conversation, comes in and says, “See, we don't know why your husband stays with you.”
Now, Ariel. Was there any reason for my mother to say that? No. Was there any reason to bring up my husband at that moment? No. But because first generation Filipino American parents don't understand boundaries, what she did was reach into her arsenal on what she thought were the most hurtful things she could say to me, so that she could win the argument. And that has been her strategy with me my whole life. And she said that to me in front of my then 13 year old daughter, and my 5 year old son, And let me tell you, my 13 year old daughter is not stupid, Malaya is a badass. As soon as my mother said that, she audibly gasped and started crying. My daughter is an empath, and at 13, she understood how hurtful those words were from my Mother. So my Mother, who had nothing to do with the argument, my husband had nothing to do with why my son was naked crying on the bathroom floor, my father who just could not live with the fact that I'm letting my dirty ass son sleep on a bed, I mean we're in a hotel. I could have easily called the front desk and said, “Hey, can somebody please come change my sheets?” But she made a big deal about something that wasn't a big deal, inserted herself into a conversation that she wasn't even a part of, and then said the most hurtful thing to me that she could possibly say. She tried to apologize to me once, but her apology was more like she's sobbing, crying because she's the victim. And for the record, in the 41 years of my life my mother has never apologize to me for fucking anything. My mother has never apologized to me. I remember when I won the Miss Augusta pageant. You know what she said to me when I called her when she was in Japan.
Goldie: I said “mom, I won!” She said, “What? You weren't even the prettiest one there.” All right, I will never forget the fact that when I married my husband, we decided that I was going to stop working and stay home when my son was born. My mother and my father sent me the nastiest email about being unemployed. That my husband's not going to want me anymore if I'm useless at home spending money. That I need to get a job or my husband's gonna leave me. Why, why would you send me an email like? I still have the email. Because I don't delete anything. They sent me an email like that, because I wasn't living up to their Filipino expectations. That, in their eyes, by me quitting my job to stay home, I was being a failure, I was being nothing, I was being useless.
Host: I am so sorry.
Goldie: Thank you. You have nothing to be sorry about. If I sound angry, it's because I'm still angry.
Host: I am sick and tired of people saying “Look on the bright side of things”.
Goldie: And I want a relationship with my mother, I hate that I don't have that kind of relationship with my mother.
Host: And she doesn't have to be angry about that, because what she did to you was not correct.
Goldie: That's just one example of her not respecting boundaries and being hurtful for the sake of being hurtful. She's been hurtful to me my whole life. She thinks by buying the kids things and because you do nice things for someone, doesn't mean I give you permission to be abusive. That permeates across Asian culture. I tried to reconcile with her and said “ you need to understand how hurtful what you said was to me, that you inserted yourself into a conversation that had nothing to do with you, or my husband. And yet, you said, one of the most hurtful things you could say to your daughter. I would never say that to Malaya. I said, “So, we need to figure out why you think it's okay to say things like that to me.“ We need to fix this relationship. I offered to pay for family therapy. She lives a five hour drive away. I even said, “I will drive down once a week and I will sit in a therapist office with you. I will pay for it.” I will go through all that, and she's not willing, she can't apologize to me. Ariel, her apologies are more like she was sobbing and crying because, of course, she's a victim. She said “I'm sorry for anything I've ever done to hurt you.” I said “No, I don't want you to apologize for anything you've ever done to hurt me. Apologize to me for what happened in Paris and then let's dig deeper and find out why this is happening. I miss my children's grandparents. I miss having a mom. My daughter's sweet 16 is coming. They won't be there. My husband planned a prom because I went to a private Christian school. We didn't have prom because dancing is from the devil, so my husband…
Host: Like the song? Dancing is the devil. Well it's so funny because in old times there was actually a religion of people who would like to dance and shake as a way of praying. Anyway, going back to your story.
Goldie: Right now, she's playing the victim. Right now, she's told my family that she's apologized to me and I won't accept it. That's not true. She hasn't apologized to me. That's so immature, I can't even deal with how immature, that is. I remember my brother being at their house, trying to get my mom to apologize and yelling and screaming and crying and being so frustrated because my mom kept saying things like, “Okay I'm sorry but you do this right.” I did that when I was 16. She still treats me like that shitty 16 year old, that she did not prepare for the real world. I didn't I didn't become who I am because of my mom, I became who I am in spite of her trying to suppress this personality that she didn't know what to do with. She did not know what to do with me and I almost feel sorry for her that she gave birth to someone like me. I mean this is a woman who- I don't know if you can find traditional Filipino folk music for this part of the story, but...
Host: Cody find some some traditional folk music for this section!
Goldie: We're going to talk about my mama. My mom was born, the third oldest of 10 children because you know the Philippines is Catholic nobody believes in birth control. Before she started high school, her parents forced her to quit school so her older brother and older sister could go to college. Her parents had to work to pay that tuition so they forced my mom to drop out of high school to take care of her younger siblings. And in the Philippines physical abuse as discipline is widely accepted. In America, we have spankings and in the South, we smack people upside the head. In the Philippines, kids get beaten with whatever items the parents can reach for whether it's an extension cord, a 2x4, I mean you know chancleta, as my Latin friends call it. Whatever we can get, people were beaten, and beaten so much they would scream. In the Philippines, that's okay and mom used to tell stories about. She did not have dental care so all her teeth fell out, having to take care of her siblings so that, when she finally did go back to high school she was much older than everyone and didn't have any teeth. She slept on the floor. I mean, my mother had a hard upbringing. I don't fault her for the sacrifices she made for us. She came to America and worked and lived the American dream, to the point where she was able to put me in private school. She was able to raise all her siblings, and then go to college at the University of East, where she met my father. My father joined the US Navy instead of finishing law school and because he knew if he was going to be an attorney in the Philippines, he would end up assassinated at some point. We moved to Hawaii and in Hawaii she taught herself how to drive, she got a job, she worked her way up as a financial analyst within the US Government, dad retired as a Chief in the Navy. They really did everything they could to give us a good life. As far as raising us and the emotional abuse and the verbal abuse and the continued lack of boundaries and the continued gaslighting. That is what has ceased our relationship and I still to this day, send them emails that say I love you and I miss you. I'm still willing to pay for family therapy, please let me know if you're willing to go with me. Because what was said in Paris should have never happened, that there's something wrong within this mother daughter relationship, that she thinks that's okay. It's really sad because sometimes I will hear my mom come out of my mouth to my kids and then I have to go “Nope, I'm not doing that shit. This cycle ends with me.” I can honestly say that after years of therapy because of my emotionally abusive upbringing and the gaslighting that I experienced growing up, is probably how I fell into a domestic violence situation with my first husband.
Host: I was just about to ask.
Goldie: Abuse isn't will one day they hit you well, one day, they slap you. There's a saying at the domestic violence, shelter, where I will sometimes go to events and speak on their behalf… that victims are beat down before they're ever beat up. So what does that mean, victims are beat down before they're ever beat up? There is this period or this phase of tearing the victims self esteem and self worth down, alienating the victim from their friends and family, so they only have the abuser. Once they finally get to that point and the physical violence finally starts, it's not really a big deal because their self worth and self esteem and their support systems are gone. And I mean that's exactly what happened with my abuser. I became someone else under him for lack of a better term, mind control. I lost all my friends. He alienated me for my family. The only times I've ever been fired from a job was when I was with my abuser because when you're in that cycle of violence, things just aren't right. You’re not performing well, you're not sleeping well, you're not eating well, you're not working well. And, even after we divorced, I mean my abuser was so verbally and physically abusive, to the point that he blew up at me in public and I had to get a no contact order. There were several witnesses and one of them even wrote an affidavit to the judge about how bad it was, and I was seven and a half months pregnant with my twins. And because I grew up with no boundaries, I grew up with a mother and a father who never respected my boundaries, because I was their child and in the Philippines, children don't get to have boundaries and privacy, I never learned how to have boundaries in my personal relationships, in my friendships, and my romantic relationships. Boundaries are something I had to learn later in life. I suffered from a lot of people taking advantage of me. I suffered a lot of emotional and physical abuse, because I had never learned boundaries, because my parents ever taught me boundaries, because I was never given boundaries. I was told I was not allowed to have boundaries. That's tough, that's tough.
Host: How did your parents react to you and your abuser when they found out with a supportive or did they bury it?
Goldie: They were extremely supportive and so their reactions were polar opposite. My mother was supportive, but angry that I let this happen to me. Because it was my fault.
Like ¨you let him abuse you all those years?¨, yet right makes sense. My father was supportive. But he was disappointed, I never reached out for help. I remember him showing up and there are very few times in my life that I've seen my father cry. I remember, they showed up at my house and my friend was there to take me to the emergency room, but I didn't want to leave until somebody was home to watch Malaya, who was one and a half, at the time. And he walked in the house and he pulled me aside and he said “How come you never told me?.” And just the tears. He said “You never told me.” Yeah, so their reactions were opposite, even though they were both very supportive. And just seeing the hurt on his face. I know that as a parent, regardless of being Filipino and lack of boundaries, you still feel the obligation of protecting your child. As his daughter, finally, reporting the abuse and that the abuse had been happening for years. We met in 2003 and we got married in 2005, we divorce in 2009. The verbal, emotional, physical abuse had been happening, but when it's happening you don't want to tell anyone about it, for fear of judgment or retaliation from your abuser. I was married to this man, I had a child with this man. What the fuck was I going to do? A pastor was just going to tell us to stay together. Which as a side note, pastors as marriage counselors are shit.
Host: Catholic church run residential schools (cough).
Goldie: Pastors and priests acting as marriage counselors are just shit. That’s all I have to say about that.
Host: Amen to that.
Goldie: I think at that moment he realized that I had been dealing with this for 4-5 years right under his nose. And he probably felt super guilty. He probably felt like it was his job to make sure it didn't happen, but it happens. So yeah, they were supportive.
Host: I have two observations. One of which is just the tragedy of being raised by a family that set up the expectations that you can't go to them because you will be judged and shamed for acting out again. Expectations which set you up to not tell, more so than the already stigmatized position of being a survivor. I also feel like your mom blaming you in a way, is trying to distance herself and her abuse, because she almost sees her actions reflected back at her in a way. And the fact that you still love them so much.
Goldie: They are my parents. It is not lost on me. The sacrifices they made to give us a life in America and as Asian Americans there is an unspoken expectation of you to rise above your immigrant status and make your place in American society. But still retain your Asian-ness you see what I'm saying, like as an immigrant you're expected to arrive in America, acclimate, and succeed in the American system. Make your place in the American system and then what you're Filipino-ness or Chinese-ness can start permeating the parts of your American life.
Host: I think it ties into the model minority standard. Honestly, I think this is something that people who are unfamiliar with the AAPI Community need to recognize.
Goldie: And if you're not successful, then it's shameful that you were brought to this country and then you're not going to do anything with yourself. That's why my parents freaked the fuck out when I quit working, but no I'm not even joking, because I went to college I got a degree, I got married and now I'm not working. Now you're just not going to contribute to society, now you're just going to stay at home, live on welfare. I'm going to stay home and be a mother. I'm going to work the household so I am just not going to have a job. Like they just couldn't know you're an immigrant like you came here to work. That was their whole philosophy. Well, if you don't work your husband's gonna leave you know it actually this was his idea. So he's not.
Host: Are you doing okay?
Host: Okay, if you want to take a break or stop we can. I don't want you to
trigger yourself or push yourself past where you're comfortable.
Goldie: I'm good. The nice thing is I'm able to do this from home, so I already have a comfort level. I'm able to tell my story from my house. I already have a comfort level with you. I don't think anything I do or say reflects badly on me or my family or my children and I think these are things we have to talk about. We have to talk about the dirty, shitty things. We have to open up the wounds, we have to talk about the ugly side of Asian American cultural upbringing. Whether you're a fancy Asian up north. Like you, the Chinese. You know what we are nicknamed the jungle Asians. Asian cultures within itself are so beautiful. All the Asian cultures are very centered around family. All the Asian cultures have this rich tradition of food, costumes and dance. I mean for Cambodia and Thailand to be so close together and have very different dances and traditional costumes and different architectures. Two years ago, we went to Thailand and Cambodia, even though the people's physical features are similar, the cultural differences were extremely easy to see and differentiate and so there's a lot of beauty in these Asian American cultures, but there's this underlying almost unspoken acceptance about using abuse too. Discipline your children using abuse, to control your wife, to control your husband, to control your kids, to control the people around you and to me. That is not okay comparing your child to their cousins. “Well she got into nursing school why can't you?” It's so detrimental to your child's self worth. Maybe she doesn't want to be a frickin’ nurse, maybe that's why.
Host: And that's fine. That should be ok.
Goldie: A nurse, not all Filipino are going to be nurses, JoKoy. Shit.
Host: And not all Asians need to wear red, white, and blue, Andrew Yang. Is there anything else you'd like to add, before we end the interview?
Goldie: Just that Filipino Americans need to know that therapy is not shameful. I think there's still this misconception, especially among Asian American cultures, that seeking help for your mental health, the anxiety that you feel about not getting into Grad school is somewhat normal, but the expectation your parents have put on you, that's not normal. Getting help for your depression, because your self esteem and self worth or being beaten away by your parents or your siblings or or your grandmother, some grandmas they can be mean.
Host: I remember my mom would verbally abuse me and my Chinese grandma would be sitting there nodding her head.
Host: Gas lighting is real.
Goldie: Gaslighting is real. Like I said, everything was always my fault. Mom never apologized for anything. Getting help for your mental health is okay. Therapy is great. It really is one of the things I look forward to every fucking week. Every week just because it helps me be a better wife, it helps me be a better boss, it helps me be a better mom. I'm now at the age where I know that I know I don't know anything.
Host: That's how you know that you're growing and learning.
Goldie: I now have this wonderful therapist that helps me make sense of things in my life and helps me realize, “Okay, why did I react that way? It's because of this and this.” I'm finding out that the years of my neglectful upbringing, the years of no boundaries, the years of gaslighting, I had all these triggers that would throw up all these defense mechanisms that I had no idea was even happening.
Host: And that's the key. Right here. Learning what makes you tick and then having coping mechanisms.
Goldie: Healthy coping mechanisms. Sometimes you come up with coping mechanisms that you don't even know that you had like mahjong, gambling. We all have an Asian parents. Getting help for your mental health and verbalizing things that you know aren't right. Verbalizing things to your parents, to your family about “No, you're not allowed to talk about my body anymore.” So, boundaries are good and healthy. Therapy can literally be a lifesaver and let you know that your mental health is as important as your physical health. Those are the three things that I want to leave
Host: Thank you. Thank you so much for being so brave and so candid.
Goldie: Thank you for inviting me to do this. I think people are just so scared of rejection. or judgment from other people. We live in an age where we are so worried about what other people think that it is now something that people don't even attempt anymore. I try to teach my children that the truth will set you free. Whatever your truth is.
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