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'I'm not a hero. I just want a quiet life' (3)

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

08:16, January 20, 2012

Although Lee says she uploaded the images to attract the attention of Li Yang, an avid Internet user, they were trended on Sina weibo and within hours had been shared by hundreds of thousands of bloggers.

"The first reason (I posted them) was because I wanted it to stop, I wanted to protect myself," she said, adding that she was not prepared for the media frenzy that ensued. It was not long before both husband and wife were being bombarded with reporters' requests for interviews.

Both have received their share of criticism in the last six months, including some people who accused Lee of simply seeking fame.

"I've received great support and encouragement from most Chinese people in the past five months," she said, recalling briefly with tears in her eyes how an elderly Chinese woman in Beijing's Tuanjiehu Park had recognized her one morning and given a thumbs-up.

Lee said she can accept "ugly" words from netizens but cannot help arguing with people who say domestic violence is acceptable. In interviews, Li Yang admitted hitting his wife but said it was a small mistake, and he claims Lee is using the case to become famous. (Li Yang declined to comment when contacted by China Daily.)

"That upsets me, the fact that he sees himself as a victim, that I did something to hurt him," Lee said, raising her voice, her first visible sign of anger that morning. "He still thinks the biggest problem is that I exposed the violence."

Since the media attention, Lee has spoken at a domestic violence conference in Beijing and, in some people's eyes, has become a hero for women caught in abusive relationships.

"I'm not a hero," she said when asked about how she is viewed. "That's not my job.

"The difference between a Chinese and US woman in such a relationship is that when an American woman finally gets the courage to speak out, she knows the support is there. The law (in the US) is very strong. But here, even if a woman speaks out, it's very difficult," said the mother of three, who plans to write a book about domestic violence for Chinese women.

"I don't think other women can follow my example, because I'm an American I can leave the country; I have lots of options. However, I hope I have made it clear to men who abuse women that it's not OK."

At the end of the interview, Lee finally sat back in her soft, brown armchair and took a sip of the coffee she was carrying when we arrived. It had gone cold long ago.

"I just want an ordinary, quiet life," she added. "But I still believe in love."

【1】 【2】 【3】

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