My husband and I have been separated for several months already. Before he finally left our house, he abused me physically in front of our children. Can I still file a case for violation of RA 9262 against him even if months had passed since he harmed me? I was hesitant to file a complaint against him because I’m afraid that once I do, he will use his influence to take our children away from me.
The infliction of any form of violence against women and their children is strictly prohibited by law. Violence against women and their children refers to any act or 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, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. It includes, but is not limited to, physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence or economic abuse (Section 3(a), RA 9262).
The physical abuse that you suffered from your husband is clearly a form of violence punishable under Section 5 (a) of Republic Act 9262, to wit:
“SECTION 5. Acts of Violence Against Women and Their Children.- The crime of violence against women and their children is committed through any of the following acts:
(a) Causing physical harm to the woman or her child;
You may still file a complaint for violation of RA No. 9262 against your husband even if months had passed since he physically abused you. This shall be filed before the Office of the Prosecutor of the place where he abused you. Forms of violence under Sections 5(a) to 5(f) may be filed within twenty (20) years from the commission of the act (Section 24, RA 9262).
As regards your concern with the deprivation of custody of your children, Section 34 of RA No. 9262 specifically provides that the women-victims of violence shall be entitled to the custody and support of their children. Children below seven (7) years old older but with mental or physical disabilities shall automatically be given to the mother, with right to support, unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise. Even a victim who is suffering from battered woman syndrome shall not be disqualified from having custody of her children. In no case shall the custody of minor children be given to the perpetrator of a crime against a woman who is suffering from Battered Woman Syndrome.
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.