FOR THE WOMEN WHO ARE IN DOUBT
I was in a very abusive relationship with my then-boyfriend who would later become my husband. I never called it "abuse" before. I thought it was okay. I thought it was normal.
For the women who are in doubt,
For the wives who have been abused (it may be hard to admit but yes, abused), and
For the mothers who saw their children being hurt, ridiculed and belittled by the man they call their father...this is for you.
Every person’s story is different and I am here to tell my story, to hopefully help and empower other women who are going through what my children and I went through. I was in a very abusive relationship with my then-boyfriend who would later become my husband. I never called it "abuse" before. I thought it was okay. I thought it was normal.
The hurting, shouting, name calling, domineering, belittling happened on a regular basis that eventually just became something, sadly, I thought was normal.
He is 12 years older than I am. The hurting, shouting, name calling, domineering, belittling happened on a regular basis that eventually just became something--sadly--I thought was normal. Yes, I know many of you are scratching your heads now thinking, "Why didn't you get out of that relationship?" A question I always get asked, and my answer always was: "Because I love him!" That's how I felt.
After many counseling sessions though, more than love, I realized that I feared him. He instilled fear in me. Fear of things he can do, and will do, if I did or say anything he did not like. I always had to turn a blind eye and act as if everything was OK, or else all hell will break loose.
For years, I did not tell my story to anyone because I was scared of what people will think of the person I love. Even my family did not know, and after 6 years, we got married.
For years, I did not tell my story to anyone because I was scared of what people will think of the person I love.
I have accepted our "normal," but of course was still hoping and praying that he would eventually change, especially when we start a family. 11 months after, our first child was born. Sadly, the "normal" for me, became the "normal" for my daughter too. My child was on the receiving end of his outbursts as well, but I was always too scared to say or do anything.
Fast forward to when my child was 5, and my second daughter was 6 months old. During one of my daily walks with my daughters, my eldest, without any prodding just suddenly asked me: "Mommy, why does daddy treat us that way? Why does he hurt us?" A very innocent question from a 5-year old. I was caught off guard and could not say anything. After 10 minutes of silence on my end, we stopped and we sat down. She asked me the question again for the 3rd time, and in that moment, all I could do was say sorry. I did not have an answer to her question. 'Sorry' is the only word that came out of my mouth, and I just hugged her tight.
During one of my daily walks with my daughters, my eldest, without any prodding just suddenly asked me: "Mommy, why does daddy treat us that way? Why does he hurt us?"
Why am I saying this? Because I know a lot of women out there are in a crossroads like I was. I never wanted a broken family. Nobody ever does! But do not stay in a marriage for the kids. It is not an excuse. Our children can see everything, and they are and will be affected. What will you do or say when your child asks you that question?
Now, the hardest part--leaving. It was not easy. I was always questioning myself if I can raise my children alone and provide for their needs. I did not have work nor income then. I was a stay-at-home mom with no yaya by choice. All I had was my savings from when I was working. It was really hard, but 3 years had passed--we left in fear on June 9, 2017--and all I can say is that God will provide, because he knows that your decision is right!
My eldest daughter was diagnosed with PTSD, my youngest daughter is also going through therapy. I still feel guilty for taking so long to fight for them and put a stop to the abuse they had to see and experience.
It has been 3 years, and now is the only time I finally have the courage to share my story. We are still on the road to healing...3 years is not enough. For years now, my children and I have been going to counseling. The trauma is still there. My eldest daughter was diagnosed with PTSD, my youngest daughter is also going through therapy. I still feel guilty for taking so long to fight for them and to put a stop to the abuse they had to see and experience.
Here is my advice to other women, wives, and mothers who need advice but are too scared to ask:
1. Have a support system. It can be your family, friends and/or counselors. Anybody whom you know believes you, and who will always be there for you and your children.
2. Pray! It will never be easy, but know that God is with you and will always be with you, especially when your decision is right.
3. When there is an incident or altercation, go straight to the women's desk at your local government station, or to the police station and blotter it. Have the courage to do so. This is a must!
4. Go to counseling and attend seminars. With so many things going on at home, thinking of all the 'what if's' will make it hard to decide what to do. I went to so many counseling sessions and seminars before I had the courage to leave. (RCW Foundation and CEFAM to name a few.)
5. Always be a strong pillar for your children. It's not easy, especially when you yourself are broken, but your children should always be your priority. Always! Always remind them that they are LOVED.
6. Get a really good lawyer. Get a lawyer you can trust. Sadly, some men will deny and live their lie...Some will even believe it. But be strong! Be strong for yourself, and your children! One day, everything will be OK. It might take long, but like me, you just have to believe. 😘
Story of Paula Bautista
U.S. Hotline: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233
Philippines: PNP--177; PNP-Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) 24/7 AVAWCD Office: 8532-6690
U.K.: Call 999 from a mobile or landline, then press 55 for mobile calls
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