Chef My Nguyen shares emotional story of childhood abuse: ‘Our voices and stories need to be heard’

Image: @myhealthydish/TikTok
  • Over the weekend, Chef My Nguyen shared in a now viral TikTok an incident she looks back on as her “first experience with Asian hate.”
  • “It was teachers — that I trusted. They used to abuse me,” she says in the video.
  • Nguyen recalls the moments when she was 4 or 5 years old that her teachers would dig their nails into her skin, leaving marks that Nguyen says she still has over 30 years later.
  • While some of the details aren’t as clear to her anymore, Nguyen does remember the exact moment she realized something was wrong.
  • “My teacher came to my desk, bent down to my level, looked me straight in my eyes and dug her nails into my arm until I cried out in pain,” Nguyen told NextShark. “She gave a smirk and walked away."

My Nguyen, a chef and food influencer known for her health-conscious recipes, has come out with her own story of enduring abuse and anti-Asian hate at an age when she had yet to understand such concepts. 

Nguyen, who normally uses TikTok as a means to share her recipes with viewers, took to the social media platform with a different sort of video over the past weekend. Cracking open one of the tamarinds from a box set in front of her, Nguyen begins to recall her disturbing childhood experience while eating the fruit. 

When she was between the ages of 4 and 5, before she had learned any English, Nguyen says she would sneak tamarinds into the school. Holding back a swell of emotions, Nguyen explains that one of those times, a teacher who caught her began to dig their nails into her skin. 

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“They used to do it all the time – not just because I snuck tamarinds into school, but for any reason whatsoever,” she continues. 

Examining her forearm, Nguyen says she still has the physical marks that her teachers left on her.  

As a child, it was difficult for Nguyen to understand what was going on. 

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“I thought it was normal, I didn’t tell my parents.” 

“That was my first experience with Asian hate,” she goes on to say in the video. “It was teachers — that I trusted. They used to abuse me.” 

The video ends with Nguyen apologizing for deviating from what was “supposed to be a fun ASMR video,” though thousands have flocked to the comments to thank Nguyen for sharing her story. Some are even demanding justice for what had occurred.

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@myhealthydish 78% of AAPI women have been affected by anti-Asian Racism #stopasianhate ♬ original sound – My Nguyen

While the incident still lingers in her memories, the passage of over 30 years has made it hard for Nguyen to recall the details, she told NextShark. She does, however, remember the exact moment she realized something was wrong. 

“My teacher came to my desk, bent down to my level, looked me straight in my eyes and dug her nails into my arm until I cried out in pain. She gave a smirk and walked away.” 

Before then, Nguyen described the incidents as being more “subtle.” 

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“She will be hovering over me helping me with something, but at the same time digging her nails into me like it wasn’t really happening.” 

It wasn’t just one teacher that Nguyen remembers laying her hands on her. According to Nguyen, there could have been another teacher or perhaps a teacher’s aid. She knows there were multiple, as she remembers another incident in which at least two had physically restrained her during a class celebration of Halloween. While the rest of her class rushed to gather the candy spilling out from a piñata, the teachers had restrained her, so she wouldn’t be able to retrieve any. 

On sharing her story of abuse with the internet, Nguyen says she didn’t originally intend to do so.

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“The hard part was deciding if I really wanted to post it, but I think with everything happening and the violence against the AAPI community our voices and stories need to be heard,” she said. 

The caption in Nguyen’s TikTok video reads a statistic published by Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that has tracked reports of anti-Asian hate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: “78% of AAPI women have been affected by anti-Asian Racism. #stopasianhate.” 

Last week saw many Asian American communities grieving, having started out with the gruesome incident of an elderly Filipina woman being beaten senselessly in Yonkers, New York. Wednesday was also the one-year anniversary of the tragic Atlanta spa shootings that took the lives of eight people, six of whom were Asian women. The incident is said to have sparked more awareness and media attention towards the surge in violence ravaging Asian communities amid the start of the pandemic.  

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