Filipina attacked in NY says she forgives, prays for her attacker

Published May 25, 2021, 9:53 AM

by Jaleen Ramos

“We have to rise above fear and be stronger than that — be stronger than fear.”


It was on March 29 when Filipino-American Vilma Kari was attacked in New York. She was on her way to church when a man approached her and suddenly kicked her multiple times, after yelling anti-Asian statements and telling her “F*ck you. You don’t belong here.”

“I’ve been asking those questions… Why me? Did I do something wrong? What did I do to provoke that? And all [my friends] could say to me is maybe there is a plan for you because you were spared and you’re a strong woman,” Kari said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

Kari said all she wanted to do for her 66th birthday was to go to church, attend mass, light a candle, and pray.

“Pray for all the blessings, pray that I’m alive and I’m OK. And pray for everyone. For everyone, including even my attacker. I prayed for him because I felt he needed prayers,” she said.

“That’s part of our belief. You know, we pray for those who persecute us or those who have harmed us, and show them love. You know, that’s the only thing, because love is the most powerful thing in the world,” she added.

Weeks after the attack, Kari has been recovering from severe physical injuries, including a fractured pelvis, and coming to terms with the assault, the report added.

In the video circulated online, bystanders who were on the scene just watched without intervening.

This image released on March 30, 2021, on its Twitter feed (@NYPDTips) by the New York Police Department Crime Stoppers shows a man assaulting a 65-year-old Asian American woman on March 29, 2021. (Photo by – / @NYPDTips / AFP)

A security guard from inside an adjacent building where the incident happened also failed to aid the woman and even closed the door.

The New York Police Department arrested 38-year-old Brandon Elliott on March 31. He was charged with two counts of second degree assault as a hate crime and one count of first degree attempted assault as a hate crime.

Kari said it was her daughter Elizabeth Kari that encouraged her to tell her story.

“Maybe God is telling you to do something. So, with the help of my daughter… she kept telling me, ‘Your story can be an awareness for what’s going on with the community, with Asian Americans,’” she said.

Elizabeth Kari, meanwhile, said it’s “amazing” to hear her mom giving grace to her attacker.

“I don’t know if I could have said the same things myself. I’ve been watching her over the last couple of weeks. Just the emotional growth of her getting to that point. I actually hadn’t heard her say that,” the younger Kari told ABC News.

Kari said she and her daughter had just reunited before she was attacked.

“I feel I just have to accept and be open … even though that fear is in my heart,” Kari said. “But if we let fear overcome all these things, then nothing will happen.”

Kari came to the US decades ago to pursue a masters degree in business administration and a major in economics, the report said.

Her husband died eight years ago, and during the pandemic, she decided to visit her daughter in New York.

Stop AAPI Hate, an online organization tracking Anti-Asian hate incidents, has received more than 6,600 reports from March, 2020, to March, 2021.