Vic­tim of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence pushes ad­vo­cacy with ‘SAVE’ cam­paign

Manila Bulletin - - News - By LIZA T. AGOOT

BAGUIO CITY — It took a lot of courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion for a woman to end the 24-years of suf­fer­ing as a vic­tim of do­mes­tic and in­ti­mate-re­la­tion­ship vi­o­lence (DIV).

Patti Gal­lardo, founder of Stop the Abuse and Vi­o­lenceE (SAVE) Our Women, Inc. re­counted that she of­ten feared how she would sur­vive if she ad­mit­ted that she was a vic­tim of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

She fi­nally left the fam­ily home in 2002. But she went back and be­came a vic­tim again in De­cem­ber 2004.

Then the the Vi­o­lence Against Women and their Chil­dren (VAWC) law (RA 9262) was passed in 2004 and she filed the case against her hus­band for vi­o­la­tion of the said law and an9other case to re­scind the mar­riage. Her hus­band was found guilty of vi­o­la­tion of RA 9262 in Oc­to­ber 2007. In 2009, her mar­riage was re­scinded.

That could have been the end of Patti’s in­volve­ment in such a prob­lem but she chose to help other women get out of such a re­la­tion­ship.

Patti shared that when she left the abu­sive re­la­tion­ship, she did not get any sup­port from any­one r be­cause peo­ple were scared of her hus­band. Some did not be­lieve she was be­ing abused while oth­ers tried to con­vince her to keep her fam­ily to­gether no mat­ter if there was vi­o­lence in the home.

Danielle Steel’s novel “Jour­ney,” a story about a wife be­ing abused by her rich hus­band, opened the door for her to de­cide that enough is enough.

While it was painful, she left her chil­dren when she moved out of the home be­cause she could not af­ford to bring them.

Patti re­lated that she lived in debt for a long time. She tried to sur­vive with­out any fi­nan­cial help from her hus­band de­spite court or­ders for him to pro­vide sup­port.

Patti said that in March 2007, the Baguio Mayor’s wife, Becky Do­mo­gan, in­vited her to speak about her ex­pe­ri­ences so that she could in­spire other women who are vic­tims to be­come coura­geous and fight back. Since then, Patti has not stopped speak­ing out.

SAVE the Women The sign­ing into law of R A9262 en­cour­aged Patti to help women to make the step to end be­ing abused.

She said SAVE wants peo­ple to stop ac­cept­ing the ex­is­tence of vi­o­lence against women, change the age- old norms re­gard­ing the rights and the value of women and to in­still in peo­ple’s mind a dis­taste for any form of vi­o­lence against women.

She said that SAVE hopes to reach and af­fect as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble, awaken them to the facts and re­al­i­ties of the vi­o­lence around them and to help the vic­tims to sur­vive and re­cover.

In her talks, Patti does not openly try to con­vince vic­tims to come out. She sim­ply talks about her ex­pe­ri­ences, the law that gives pro­tec­tion to women in such an un­fair sit­u­a­tion, and then it is up to them to de­cide if they want to re­main –or to stop –be­ing vic­tims.

“They ask to meet me, and we talk about their ex­pe­ri­ences (one-on-one). I of­fer them op­tions such as get­ting a pro­tec­tion or­der from the court, fil­ing cases (crim­i­nal or civil), pro­tect­ing them­selves... we dis­cuss RA 9262 and find out how the law can help them. We re­fer them to the ser­vice-providers who can help.”

Nine years of work­ing on her ad­vo­cacy, SAVE now has women and men pro­fes­sion­als, who like Patti, be­lieve that women should never be hurt in a re­la­tion­ship.

“There are no valid rea­sons and no ex­cuses for women to be hurt while in a re­la­tion­ship,” she said.

Sta­tis­tics re­vealed Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est na­tional de­mo­graphic and health sur­vey (NDHS), one in five women aged 15-49 had been a vic­tim of phys­i­cal vi­o­lence since the age of 15.

That means, of the more or less 24,000,000 women in that age bracket, 4.8 mil­lion are prob­a­bly vic­tims of phys­i­cal vi­o­lence.

Sta­tis­tics also show that the po­lice and DSWD have only served 17,238 and 34,945 women vic­tim-sur­vivors in 2013 and 2014 re­spec­tively.

Patti said vic­tims are not con­fined to the low-in­come fam­i­lies. “Fi­nan­cially-able women are not ex­empt from do­mes­tic and in­ti­mate-re­la­tion­ship vi­o­lence. There are many women pro­fes­sion­als and those with ca­reers who are also vic­tims.”

There are also heads of or­ga­ni­za­tions, of­fices, and even govern­ment of­fi­cials who are vic­tims, who are in a more dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion and can­not just speak up. “This is the rea­son why some com­mit sui­cide or just re­main in the abu­sive re­la­tion­ship un­til they are killed, or un­til their part­ners die, or un­til they be­come too old to fight back.”

March 8, 2004

Many hid be­hind the cy­cle of vi­o­lence but with the pas­sage of the law in March 8, 2004, many vic­tims of do­mes­tic and in­ti­mate-re­la­tion­ship were en­cour­aged to come out and speak up.

She said that with the law in ef­fect, the vic­tims now have some­thing to cling on, mak­ing them more coura­geous to speak up.

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