When should a woman say enough?
How much should a woman take before she says enough?
I asked myself this question as I stared at the ceiling that night. I could not sleep and my heart was breaking. It was as if a sword was piercing through me as I recalled the experiences recounted to me that day by someone so dear to my heart.
Nina (not her real name) had a very pretty face. In her younger years, she was always the muse of the class. She was the princess and the snow white in schools plays. I always thought that she would have a fairy tale life. But sadly, she didn’t.
In between sighs she told me how she suffered in the hands of the man she loved, the very person who vowed to love her for life. In over 20 years of marriage she experienced her deepest pain and suffering.
As I looked into Nina’s eyes, I could sense the pain, the disillusionment that enveloped her being, and the feeling of being lost.
One cannot fathom the depth of the emotional hurt and rejection a woman feels when she is betrayed by her husband, when he takes another woman and but continues to deny it even when all evidences are there.
As she tried to love him despite this, she bore the stings of physical and verbal abuse; words demeaned her whole being and killed her spirit.
And yes, how could I forget, he wasn’t a good provider. Most of the time, Nina and her children had nothing to eat, as he willfully deprived them of this while spending all his money on his other woman.
This was not all. What disturbed me most and made me deeply angry inside was how he divested her of her dignity as a woman by making her his sexual toy. Nina told me about the many pervert things he did to her, things I could not even imagine. For all these years, she said, she felt that she was nothing more than a sexual object to satisfy all his fleshly whims.
And there was one time she was forced by her husband to have an abortion. My friend did not want to but she had to comply. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I wept for the unborn child.
I wished in my heart that she would cry too so that all the emotions bottled up inside her would come out … I thought maybe, just maybe it would somehow heal the wound and the guilt. She didn’t cry ... maybe it was a sign of strength, I thought. But then I realized that she has tried and succeeded to numb herself as she lived with pain for most of her life.
I told her to be strong but I did not know what it meant, for what can make a woman strong in the face of this situation? Was it the hope that someday he would change? Maybe.
What is most lamentable is that my friend has made herself believe that she deserved everything she experienced. She was lost in the abyss of nothingness and worthlessness. How was I to bring her up again?
Many times and in many instances people told her to leave him but she thought about her children. Being jobless, she had no way to feed them and send them to school. Apart from this, I knew, she loved her husband so much. “I want my children to have a father, I want to have a complete family,” she also pointed out.
Nina was 19 when she got married and so was not able to finish her studies. She tried to do laundry jobs and other errands for some people including for her in-laws who treated her equally bad.
Everything took its toll on hr fragile body. My friend now battles with a rare kind of disease. But a real survivor, she is making it through. She continues to fight. Though her body feels the pain and she still struggles with emotional and physical wounds and scars, her heart continues to love and to hope.
Someday, she said, I will get what I have dreamed of all these years… I will be loved and valued as a woman of worth.
I hope she will.
In our country, Nina is not alone. There are thousands of women who have to live with domestic violence in different forms from their own loved ones and in their own homes. I cannot say that it is the government’s fault because the Philippines is one of the countries that have moved to empower women and to protect them, to give them equal rights and privileges in every part and stratum of the society
Established in January 7, 1975 through Presidential Decree No. 633, the Philippine government created the National Commission on the role of Filipino women with the intention of promoting and protecting the rights of the women in the Philippines.
In 2004, Republic Act No 9262, an act defining violence against women and their children providing for protective measures for victims, prescribing penalties therefore and for other purposes was enacted so that women and children are protected from violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and economic abuse.
On August 15, 2009, the Magna Carta for Women was signed into law. It provides better protection for women.
This is not all. Several women’s groups have also emerged actively fighting for the rights of women and launching advocacies that uplifts their dignity.
But still, it is a sad fact that many women who are victims of abuses continue to weep quietly. When and how can this be stopped?
I write this for my friend. She wanted me to write her story. If there is a lesson in this, a realization, or a solution, I do not know. All I know is that I have promised that I will keep on writing for Nina and for other women whose voices and cries are unheard.