“As soon as I saw [the photograph she posted online], I thought my personal image has been completely ruined. I was in a state of extreme fury,” Li said on Monday.
As China’s top celebrity English teacher and the flamboyant founder of "Crazy English" which employs non-traditional methods of language learning, Li admitted to beating his American wife and apologized via a Weibo post last Saturday (Sep 10).
In both Chinese and English on his Weibo account, Li apologized to his wife, Kim Lee, and three daughters for causing them "serious physical and mental damage." He later added that they are seeking professional counseling.
This rather overdue apology from Li came more than a week after Lee posted photographs of her bruised face on her Weibo account, instigating widespread online reactions as outraged netizens flooded Li's Weibo with criticisms.
In one of her first posts addressed to Li, Lee shared her anguish as a battered wife, saying: "It would be easier if love had just disappeared the minute that your hand struck my face, but it did not. Seeing that you were having make up applied for TV appearance while I was in hospital hurts more than your slamming my head on the floor."
Numerous concerned netizens immediately rushed to Lee's support and urged her to press charges while demanding Li for a formal response.
After Li finally apologized to quiet the exploding online chatter, nearly no one felt his statement was enough.
One user, @Michael_Fung, wrote: "This is the most insincere apology I've seen...Teachers make mistakes too but the key is your attitude after making a mistake."
Another user, @LR_HuRung, commented: "You only apologized to protect your career. Your heart is still dark deep down. You don’t deserve to be a teacher."
Facing more than 13,000 comments on Li's Weibo apology, Lee told the netizens that "LY faced police charges, admitted the truth, accepted responsibility and asked forgiveness". She thanked everyone for all the "support, understanding and love", putting a closure on the incident.
China is no stranger to domestic violence: a 2010 survey by the All China Women's Federation indicates that 64% of the adult respondents have experienced domestic abuse. Although the government is finalizing a new law, many prefer to stay silent following China's deeply rooted tradition to keep family scandals behind closed doors (家丑不可外扬).
Li Yang’s story has yet again demonstrated the power of Chinese netizens: Weibo can not only function as a government watchdog, but it can also put domestic violence offenders to justice. Although many in China still choose to resolve family conflicts in private, victims of abuse now better understand that they are not alone – help could just be one post away.
More research data on domestic violence in China can be found here (Mandarin).