Cariño brutal. Sleeping with the enemy. Tough love. That’s how we describe domestic violence. It is a personal and social problem that exists in all cross-sections of almost all societies. In the Philippines, figures are disturbing. According to a 2008 report of the National Demographic Health Survey, one out of five Filipino women aged 15 to 49, has experienced physical and sexual abuse at one point in their lives. In many cases, the abuser is either the husband or the father. The Philippine National Police, on the other hand, revealed that in 2006, there were 4954 reported cases of abuse. The number increased to 12,949 in 2011. Another organization, the Philippine Commission On Women, has given out similar findings. And those are just the reported cases. Many instances of domestic abuse are not reported at all.
Abuse is a complicated problem whose root causes are hard to understand.If you are a victim of a violent relationship, you should not wait for a full understanding of the causes before you act. Even experts don’t have the complete answers. Besides, your decision to save your life and your children’s lives should not be based on a clear explanation of the causes of his violence.
When your husband has physically hurt you twice, it’s time to split up with him. The first time might have been a simple outburst of emotion. “First time” may not lead to a second time, but a second time will surely lead to a third, fourth, fifth — a lifetime of abuse. Therefore, once he has hit you two times, pack up your bags and go somewhere else.Don’t waste your life waiting for him to change. No one knows when that will happen, or if it will happen at all. If he has no will power to change for the better, no one can change him. Not even you. Once he shows signs of violence — start planning a safe escape. But don’t take too long in planning. It could be too late.(A word of caution. If the “first time” was a vicious blow or was really life-threatening, flee right away.)
If you are a battered woman, get a medical certificate for your wounds and bruises. Tell your family and his family. Report the incident to authorities. If the barangay officials ignore you ( and they do usually ignore reports of domestic violence ), go to the police and the social services department. ( PNP and DSWD ) Many times, people will turn a blind eye or a deaf ear, but don’t stop asking for help. Someone will eventually listen to you. Abuse grows because of the silence of the victims.So, don’t be silent.
If you are working overseas, and your husband physically abuses your kids, you have to go back home even if you have little money. Your kids should be taken away from him. The safety of your kids is not negotiable.It is the first priority. You can get by through loans and you can financially recover later in your life. But your kids’ life , as well as yours, can never be recovered once gone.
There are many women who refuse to report domestic abuse and choose to stay in toxic relationships. One main reason is shame. Reporting a partner’s abuse comes with scandals and gossips,and judgment from society which usually faults the woman . Many women want to avoid that, so they refuse to go to the police. Another factor is the woman’s financial dependence on the man. If she has no source of income, she would most likely stay with the man who can feed her and her children, no matter how abusive he is. So, once you start to feel that something is wrong with your relationship, start saving money. ( Ideally, women should have their own income — whether their husbands are good or bad. )
“My children need their father.” is another reason we hear from battered women. If he beats up even the kids, the more you should sever the ties. But even if he spares the kids and it’s only you that he beats to a pulp — you still have to split up with him. Here is why. Violence is a learned behavior, and one potent way to learn it is by modeling from family members.What children see, children do. If your children grow up with a violent father, and you tolerate that violence, you are teaching them that violence is okay. You are teaching your son that it is okay to beat up a woman. You are teaching your daughter that it is okay to allow yourself to be beaten up by the man you love.If you choose to stay with an abusive husband, your children run the risk of becoming potential abusers and willing victims. That is so unfair.
Next is the fear factor. Abusive men usually threaten their partners: “If you run away, I will find you and kill you.” “I will kill your children.”. “I will kill your family.” You have to gather evidence of his threats: save his text messages, have a screen shot of his online intimidations, record his phone calls. Find a way to secretly videotape his actual violent behavior. Ask someone who can help you do these things. Again, always report threats to the police.
Victims find it hard to admit the next reason for keeping abusive relationships: sex. One way abusive men control their women is by giving them good sex after the beating. An abusive man usually has moments when he becomes “the perfect lover”: chocolates and flowers, candle-lit dinner and superb sex. And that’s what the woman looks forward to.It’s a vicious cycle: abuse –romance – abuse . It goes on and on. If you are staying with an abusive man because you enjoy the sex after the beating, then you are more sick in the head than your man. Ask yourself: is it really worth it?
And the greatest reason? Yes, LOVE. “I still love him”, so many battered women say. So, you’re gonna love him till he kills you? And what kind of love? Love from a willing victim is a rotten kind of love. True love can only come from a whole person. It can not come from a broken woman. A woman who allows herself to be hurt, humiliated and dishonored repeatedly can never give true love. True love should bring out the best in you, in your partner and in your children. True love radiates with joy.
If you live with an abusive man, pain and suffering becomes normal in your life. At best, you are “walking on egg shells”, as many victims describe their lives. You and your children have no freedom to act naturally. You have to think many times before doing or saying something because you are afraid to trigger his anger. That’s already the best moment you have: “walking on egg shells”. The worst? You and your children are dead. Literally.
Don’t let your partner make your flaws as an excuse for the beating.You are precious, despite your flaws. There are people and organizations that are willing to help you, but in essence, only you can save yourself. Only you can free yourself from a life of brutality. Only you can cut the chains of abuse. You have to want it — really want it — to be safe, free and peaceful. Want it and act on it.
Marily Sasota Gayeta is currently an English lecturer in Salalah City, Oman . She has held this job since September 2013. Before coming to Oman, she was also an English lecturer in Sebha City, Libya for three years. Marily studied Bachelor of Secondary Education major in English at Tomas Del Rosario College in Balanga, Bataan (her hometown) and earned her MA in English Language Teaching from the Philippine Normal University. Her career, which spans more than 20 years, also includes teaching Vietnamese refugees in a training camp in Bataan , and teaching collegiate English in three private colleges in the same province. She enjoys watching action movies, listening to rock songs, reading and writing. Her articles and poems are available on www.gardenerofthoughts.blogspot.com and mgatulamulasamalayo.blogspot.com. Marily is married and has two children.
Photo credit: Greekreporter.com