For those who think and feel that domestic violence or Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) is a taboo topic……. a hush-hush conversation that is embarrassing to talk about, we understand where you’re coming from.
Especially so, if you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence and it seems that the trap is so deep that there is no way out.
Domestic violence comes in many forms and faces and in varying intensity and color but it always degrades the human value of a woman or a child. It leaves stripes, scars, and bruises in a woman’s or her child’s mind and body. And the sad part is that it has lasting effects in their lives.
Here are some scenarios you might want to reflect on…..
Did it start with a slap then escalated into hitting you with something?
Do you think your boyfriend is sweet but being overly possessive?
Do you think that it is okay to be emotionally and psychologically abused by the one who should be protecting your well-being?
Is it okay to exhaust your whole being providing for a man who is supposed to be your partner in providing for the needs of your family?
These are a few samples of gender-based violence directed to women and their children for the abuser to display power, manipulate and control his prey. Abuse can range from physical, emotional, verbal, psychological, or economic.
VAWC is a seemingly unthinkable crime…
Most of the time, it is committed at home (a supposedly safe haven), by the one who is supposed to love you and protect you from harm.
Your abuser torments you, damages you, and strips you of whatever power and dignity there is in you. He changes you into someone you are not. Either your spirit slowly perishes or you turn into a monster like your abuser.
Hiding behind a veil of silence…
And nobody wants to talk about it in public because of the shame, further mockery, and sadly, victim-blaming.
Silence and secrecy is a false weapon that abused women wielded, but who can blame them? Most of the time, a woman suffers in silence because of fear or shame, then here comes the cover-ups…. and then…. her and her children’s life will be at stake. Finally, she decides to run and speak up.
But, what about those women and children whose journey end in the grave?
Violence Against Women Cuts Across all Demographics
Domestic violence does not respect age, color, social class, financial status, educational background, and profession. It can be inflicted by a highly respectable man wearing an Armani suit or an uneducated man to a woman regardless if she is a plain housewife or the breadwinner of the family.
Yes, women from starkly different backgrounds can fall victim to the trap or cycle of violence. From the poor stay at home wife to a wealthy and well-known celebrity, this plague that affects women knows no boundaries.
But then, by the grace of God, surviving and breaking free from domestic violence can be possible for both the stay at home wife and the seemingly unreachable celebrity.
Whatever your economic status or educational background is, you still have the power to survive and break free from the clutch of domestic violence. Keep the faith, yet be courageous enough to spring back to the life that you deserve so you can be wholesome again.
10 Survivors of Domestic Violence
Below are women from all walks of life who are victorious in their battle against domestic violence. In the process, they became staunch advocates against domestic violence and now encourages other women to act and escape from a home filled with violence.
1. Reese Witherspoon
Like mentioned above, even the glamorous Hollywood stars can become a prey to domestic predators. Reese Witherspoon was a victim of verbal and psychological abuse in one of her relationships during her younger years. She admits to being damaged that her self-esteem was badly affected.
But she stood up and fought. Breaking free from someone who abused her verbally and psychologically helped her to become the happy and successful woman that she is today. Now, she fearlessly advocates against domestic violence. She encourages victims to speak up and….. educates her children about what is appropriate and acceptable.
Who doesn’t know Rihanna?
Celebrities who are very famous and rich seem to have it all. We, the public thought that their life is perfect, but then, they are human too and can fall victim to domestic violence.
This multi-awarded star, Grammy winner, an endorser of the biggest brands in the world, and a successful entrepreneur was physically assaulted by her now ex-boyfriend in public. Oh, can you imagine what could have happened in private?
This famous personality shows a typical abused woman who forgave her abuser and they continued their relationship. She was clinging to the last straw of hope or the wrong notion that she might be able to change her abuser.
Despite this, she spoke up against domestic violence. She also slammed an advertisement that seemingly normalizes violence.
3. Mariah Carey
This star married the one who kick started the success of her career. Unfortunately, the man was a control freak that every move of the singer was being monitored, leaving the singer to feel sequestered.
Mariah decided that she had enough of the emotional and psychological abuse and ended her four-year-old marriage with her husband. It was a difficult ordeal for her since her ex-husband was also in control of her career. But she found the courage and was able to break free from his control.
4. Katrina Ross-Scott
Domestic abuse is not a thing for the poor or middle class people only, it cuts across all social class.
Katrina was a classical pianist who married a wealthy businessman, and tragically, she endured beatings from him. After an ordeal of physical abuse, her blood would be spread all over the walls and her children would automatically wipe the wall.
Some beatings would leave her unconscious that one time, her four-year-old child thought that she was dead. She divorced her rich husband and she now resides in a duplex apartment with her children. According to her, it is better to eat kidney beans for dinner than eat lobsters in a mansion where abuse is being encouraged.
Pinay Celebrities who Experienced Abuse
5. Ruffa Gutierrez
Ruffa, a former beauty queen was physically and emotionally abused by her husband in a foreign land…. that is why she was afraid to go to the police. She would hide her scars and bruises with makeup and would wear extensions after her husband cut her hair.
Her advice to women who are being abused is to love yourself, speak up, and ask for help. She said that it is wise to learn from your experience and move on.
6. Miriam Quiambao
Women who are blessed with beauty and brains are not spared from domestic violence. The television host, actress and, former beauty queen was married for less than three years to an Italian businessman.
Her ex-husband asked for divorce because of a third party but she also admitted that during the 2 years of marriage, she experienced verbal and psychological abuse from her him. According to her, prolonging an abusive relationship would only take away a woman’s dignity and slowly break her spirit into pieces.
7. Jennylyn Mercado
Sadly, even children suffer from the decisions of their parents.
Jennylyn suffered from severe physical abuse as a child. According to her, her tormentor, who happened to be his stepfather would leave her covered in black and blue bruises that she cannot get up from bed. Sometimes, he would use a clothes iron to hurt her back or burn her skin with cigarettes. Her stepfather was a sadist who loves hurting a powerless child.
It was a good thing that her aunt took her away to protect her from the wicked stepfather.
Pinay Survivors of Violence Against Women
8. Thess (not her real name)
You see, even intelligent career women who exude that strong character can be victims of domestic violence.
She was a professor in one of the universities in the Cordillera. She is a strong woman and intelligent in her chosen field. But unbeknownst to many, she was physically abused by her husband. She acted and filed for a barangay protective order and a permanent protective order. Now, she speaks about her experience to raise awareness about this issue that nobody wants to talks about.
9. Kyrie (not her real name)
Her marriage was an arranged union, facilitated by some elders of the community. At the beginning of their marriage, her husband was a good provider and an industrious man. But as years went by, he started to verbally, physically, and sexually abuse her.
She endured the beatings and the insulting words, but everything, especially these kinds, should come to an end. Thus, she decided to take her children with her and left their home and her husband who is supposed to protect her.
10. Charlyn June
Pregnancy is supposed to be a blissful life event but for some…… it means enduring hell in the hands of the father of your child.
Hitting a pregnant woman… who is carrying your precious seed seems unthinkable and outright horrific but then… it happens. It occurred to a young pregnant woman who was badly hit on her tummy that she had difficulty breathing and her sight became blurry.
Some women I know endure the pain of domestic violence until the death of their abusive partner. On the other hand, some women choose to end the cycle of violence after suffering for 5 years or more. Domestic violence is a vicious cycle of abuses, make-ups, and the temporary and fragile calm after the storm – and then the cycle begins again.
Most of the time, these abusers are not men of their words nor man enough to value and protect their partner. They enjoy their false idea of power which is inflicting pain and fear to the one they claim to love.
The battle to break free was tough and ugly for this woman but, she is tougher because she decided to speak up and found her courage to file a petition for annulment.
She is still in the process of healing and according to her, the bruises in her heart and mind is more difficult to heal. But she keeps her faith in God that she will be fully healed in due time.
Her advice to all abused women is to “PLEASE BREAK OUT OF THAT SHELL, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! And you deserve a better life.”
As mentioned earlier, domestic violence cuts across all social class, from the affluent down to the poor women. Even celebrities who seem to have it all, do not have the magical power to escape abusive relationships immediately. Others might think that they have the financial means to leave but, it’s not as easy at it seems. They also get trapped in the cycle of abuse.
Kyrie and other countless women have suffered and are still suffering from gender-based violence all over the world. But, victims don’t have to remain victims by shattering their silence. These tormented women can take back their power to live a life that they deserve: a life free from violence, fear, shame, and hatred.
Sadly, 1 in every 4 women have experienced spousal abuse in their lifetime according to the Philippine Commission on Women. And most abused women never sought help because of fear from the retaliation of their partner, breaking up the ideal family bubble of completeness…… and fear of being left alone to fend for themselves and their children.
How did these ladies transform from a scared victims into fearless advocates?
- First, the victim has to acknowledge that she is in an abnormal situation. The physical injuries, emotional and psychological wounds that are left to fester over time are not normal anymore. It’s time to face reality and take the first step towards your journey to freedom from abuse.
They freed themselves from the shame of domestic violence and stopped blaming their self. What you can do is to reach out to someone you trust and ask for help from the barangay or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children (Anti-VAWC) Desk located in police station. Spill it out and accept genuine support from your family, friends and even online support groups.
Sweeping domestic violence under the rug or turning a blind eye towards these social plague will only endanger the well-being of the abused woman or child.
- Protect yourself and your children by seeking a barangay protection order to prevent your abuser from getting near you. Better yet, leave the house if you have the means.
Stop the vicious cycle of violence, an abuser will always be an abuser. You can never change them, no matter what you do if they aren’t willing to. The best thing that you can do is to break free from them and a life of fear and misery.
By breaking free, you also save your children from being abusers or abused in the future. You have the power to stop another cycle of domestic violence in your children’s lives by preventing the normalization of violence in their psyche.
- Start your journey towards healing. Nobody said it will be easy and swift but it is possible and it will be worth it.
- Choose to thrive in your chosen path. Find a craft that you enjoy or a job to make you economically stable. Slowly but surely, you can take back your awesomeness and wholesomeness.
- Cling to God. Learn your lesson and do not underestimate the importance of discernment and prayer.
The Process Has to Start Within You
The journey to surviving domestic violence starts within you. No matter how good an advice…. that is given by a concerned family member or a friend…. if you do not take the first STEP, the journey towards breaking free will never start.
Know that you are a masterpiece of God and you do not deserve any form of abuse. Be it physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and economic abuse. Nobody deserves any form of abuse and your Creator do not want you to be always in pain.
By breaking free, you will survive and thrive in whatever path you choose to take. And only then can you start building a life filled with purpose, dignity and happiness.
And lastly, you can choose to share your journey to raise awareness. Your story might be a ray of hope for someone who thinks there is no way out from the abyss of domestic violence that they are in. Or it might raise advocates who will help in making this world free of abuse and violence. As a survivor, you can serve as a channel of hope to the seemingly hopeless abused women and children.
Reserve a Copy of the Break Free Book
By the way, Charlyn is in the process of finalizing a book intended to empower victims of domestic violence. If you or someone you know feel powerless to break free from domestic violence…. maybe, you can benefit from the wisdom and stories of other women who struggled but found the courage to break free from domestic violence.