The Reality of VAWC
I have been away in the island of Samar shuttling from one village to another to conduct consciousness raising seminars on the reality of violence against women and children.Mind you, one didn't have to go far for examples. Almost everyone (95%) of the nearly 500 women and men we conversed with have experienced abuse at one point in their lives. Most admitted that they were physically and verbally abused by members of their families during their childhood as a form of punishment for unsatisfactory performance of house chores; for choosing play over work. Spanking by using soft brooms or broomsticks were common; some were placed inside a sack and hung; boys were usually punched and kicked.A number experienced sexual abuse when they were just girls/boys and glad that they weren't raped.
The stories of Allan from San Roque, and Leila (not their real names) from Catarman both of Northern Samar are unforgettable. Allan was picked up, interrogated, punched and threatened by the military and was being forced to admit that they were NPAs. Leila and her brother were separated from their parents when the military strafed their house in Silvino Lobos. Her mother and stepfather jumped out of the window into the river. She did not hear of them since then. There are also widows who aren't sure if their husbands are already dead because they simply disappeared (desparecidos).
All of them were hurt, most felt angry and many feared for their own lives. Several ran away from home, a few eloped and married young while many dropped out of school. What amazes me is their ability to forgive their perpetrators (parents, siblings,relatives, teachers, military). They went on with their lives and vowed not let their children suffer as they did.
I sincerely thank them for trusting us with their stories. We jointly vowed to work together to break the cycle of violence. Our children and their children are luckier now that we parents know how to discipline our children without inflicting pain on them.