I have been silent for far too long and I want to take action now. I am in a relationship with a man for about seven years now. We had plans of marriage then but it never really materialized. It was fine by me because I have always thought that marriage is just a mere piece of paper. I thought that what was more important is that my partner and I are living together.
We were already in a relationship and in this kind of arrangement for two years, when I started noticing that he gets easily irritated even with the small details. When my daughter was growing up and as years passed, the irritation became a combination of resentment and anger. He would shout at me and our daughter, and it did not matter if we were at home or in a public place. There were even occasions when he would humiliate me in front of strangers like sales ladies in department stores or delivery personnel. He would often say that I am stupid and would curse me in front of our daughter.
His behavior has not only traumatized me but also our daughter. She is afraid to talk to other people, especially older men even if they are our relatives. I kept this to myself because I was ashamed to admit to my family and friends what I was going through. But I have reached my limit when two weeks ago he shouted at me and embarrassed me in a restaurant full of people. How do I protect myself as well as my daughter from him? Is there a case I can file against him considering that he has never actually inflicted physical harm on me? Please enlighten me. I do not know who else I can run to.
It is common for victims, women in particular, to feel repressed of the abuse and violence they are experiencing. We can never blame them because, somehow, society pressures us to only display what is good, and hide what is bad about our lives. But this should not be encouraged. Rather, we should promote openness and acceptance so that people will learn to choose to speak up so as to lessen violence especially against women and children.
As in your case, you should stop feeling ashamed of what you are going through because, before anyone else can help you, you should first help yourself. And you are not only saving yourself from an abusive person, you are also saving your own child.
Even if there is no physical manifestation of abuse, it does not mean that abuse does not exist at all. In fact, Republic Act (RA) 9262 or the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004,” does not only limit the definition of abuse and violence to bodily or physical harm. It encompasses all aspects of abuse, which includes sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering.
Furthermore, the application of the law is not merely confined to husbands and wives.
Section 3 (a) of the law defines “violence against women and their children” as “any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode. x x x” (emphasis supplied)
Applying the foregoing, you may file a complaint against your partner under this law. While it may be true that he has not inflicted physical harm on you, there appears to be psychological violence, or as the law puts it: “acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as but not limited to intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property, public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal abuse and mental infidelity. x x x” (Section 3 (c), RA 9262)
You may also secure from your barangay a Barangay Protection Order (BPO) so as to immediately safeguard you and your daughter and prevent your partner from committing further acts of violence. Such order is valid for fifteen (15) days. Once the complaint is filed, you may secure from the court a Temporary Protection Order (TPO), which is valid for thirty (30) days, and prior to or on the date of the expiration thereof seek for the issuance of Permanent Protection Order (PPO).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org