I first met Grace* on the MTR on a day when I was super late for work. I was walking with my daughter when I saw Grace and a tall man talking to police and station workers.
She was visibly distraught.
I hung around a bit to see if she needed help, not sure what I could do. And when they all started to walk to another location, I followed from a distance. All I knew was that there was black girl, like me, in Hong Kong that was in a bad situation. And I couldn't let it go.
So I ran to drop off my daughter at camp and booked it back to the train station to see if I could find the couple again. And I did! In a small side office, still talking with police. They allowed me to enter (they probably assumed that we knew each other) and I saw Grace sitting on one side of the table and her husband sitting on the other, still talking with police.
I told her that I saw her upset and wanted to know if she was okay. But she wasn't okay. There were torn up papers scatter across the table in front of us. A bent up passport was tossed aside. She was still in tears.
Grace was a victim of domestic abuse.
Grace, 21, was on her way with her husband to the Chinese Consulate to apply for a student visa so that she could study in China when they got into an argument on the the train. At a tipping point, Grace's husband took all the documents she needed for school, including her acceptance letter and tore them up. Grace lamented that this wasn't an isolated incident, that he often lashed out when he lost his temper.
On a dependant visa, Grace was planning to use the student visa to be able to move and leave her husband.
The police offered her information for a social worker, escorted the husband out of the station and left some tape for the pieces of her papers. We spent the remainder of the morning trying to piece them back together and make photocopies of everything. I offered Grace a place to stay, but she was able to stay with a friend.