Violence against women as defined by the United Nations is any act that troubles and violates women making them endure pain physically, emotionally, psychologically and mentally. It is linked with the unequal power relationship between men and a woman resulting from society’s misinformed views on gender and sexuality according to the Philippine Commission of Women (PCW).
Based on the preliminary findings of the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), one in four (26%) ever-married women aged 15-49 has ever experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence by their husband or partner. One in five (20%) women has ever experienced emotional violence, 14 percent has ever experienced physical violence, and 5 percent has ever experienced sexual violence by their current or most recent husband or partner.
Violence against women in the Philippines is increasing, with the peak in year 2013. With these, it is very important that violence against women cases must be studied and investigated in order to prevent its occurrence and launch, through the media, national awareness against domestic violence, gender equality and respect for women.
The subject of the study is Elizabeth Langamin, she is an Elementary Teacher, a mother and a wife, and she is my aunt, the sister of my mother. His husband is Rodelyn Langamin, they have been married for 28 years and have 3 children (two boys and one girl). They lived in Brgy. 10, Impalambong, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.
My aunt is a medium built and round-bodied woman; she came from a poor family and experienced all kinds of difficulties just to finish her studies. My aunt got pregnant while she was still in college and continued his studies after having three kids. She is sometimes “maldita”, somewhat a nagger wife especially if my uncle would come home drunk, but she is kind to us and would cook us good meal whenever she receives her salary. She is a fighter; she always fights for what she think is right. She always wants to provide everything for her children.
Uncle Rodelyn helped my aunt finish college; he used to be one of the Barangay Kagawad in the said barangay, he is a small person about 5’3 in height, a very thin person because after cooking breakfast for the family, he would then go to his friends and drink alcohol, he doesn’t like to eat breakfast, and he smokes a lot. My uncle, although a drunkard, would do his best to pay the tuition fee of my cousins. My uncle also used to work as a constituent of a retired politician, with these; he was able to make a few connections to the politicians in the city that is why he was able to make some of his children avail of scholarship. But he does not have a regular work, and their source of living is unsteady because my aunt’s salary is not that huge as well. He treats us well if he is sober; he is good if he’s not drunk. Unfortunately, he cannot sleep if he does not drink Tanduay or beer and this becomes a source of their misunderstanding. Despite all of that, definitely they loved each other very much that they endured almost three decades of marriage.
III. Domestic Violence Encountered
Every time my uncle comes home late, he would stagger as he walked due to drunkenness. He would bang the door, call his children and my aunt and talk to them in a slurring speech. At times, he would tell them to do well in their studies because he is working hard for them, sometimes he would scold them for not washing the dishes or cleaning the house and often gets angry for no apparent reason. Sometimes he would kiss my aunt and she will be disgusted of the smell of the alcohol. He sometimes would throw up in the living room and eventually get asleep there, my aunt gets angry and she will just leave uncle lying there till the morning. The next morning, aunt would nag at him about his whereabouts that evening and that’s their usual set-up every morning.
I used to stay in their house when I was in first and second year high school, I witnessed them shouting at each other when they have arguments, and they never settle any problem in a peaceful way. One thing I won’t forget was when they are having an argumentation, they both would swear at each other; suddenly my auntie knocked down the refrigerator and throws the things she get hold of. I was so scared when my auntie shouted at the top of her voice with her eyes bulging and the veins in her neck showed.
Other accounts of my mother (my mother stays in their house when she was in college) is that my uncle would lock-up my auntie on their room because of jealousy, he doesn’t want her to mingle or talk to other guys even if they are just work mates. My uncle would tell her offending words, accuse her of infidelity, keep tabs of the things he has done to her. There was one time when my uncle attempted to hurt my auntie physically, thanks to her medium built and strong body; he can easily wrestle my uncle because he is weak when he is drunk.
One night when my uncle attempted to hack my auntie with a samurai, my aunt was very scared and was transfixed because of what happened. Luckily my mother was there to wrestle my uncle and my aunt managed to escape in the middle of the night. Many times I would hear them having an argumentation loudly during the dawn before they would prepare for the morning errands.
There was also one time when I was younger, my aunt brought his three little kids with her and stayed in our house for two weeks saying he wants to stay away from her husband, a week after, my uncle came to our house saying he has been looking for them anywhere, he asked forgiveness from my aunt, convinced her to go back to their house and promised to be good to them and stop drinking. So my aunt believed him, gave him another chance and finally went home. But the promise was only good at the start and my uncle sadly returned to his vices and back to that hellish life of course.
My three cousins, although they dislike the way their parents act, they would just do nothing and would be annoyed if their parent would quarrel again, they are already used to everything and would just want to stay in the neighbourhood relatives or play dota or counterstrike and comes home at early at dawn.
Because of this set-up, my aunt stayed in the boarding house near the school where she worked and comes home only every weekend until the time that my uncle got sick of liver cirrhosis. This time, two of my cousins have already their own jobs. My aunt went back to stay in the house and took care of my uncle in the hospital. Their debts grew bigger just to make uncle recover. Uncle recovered after almost a month in the hospital, he stopped drinking for I think two months but after that, went back to drinking and smoking again, he does not listen to my aunt anymore, he experiences hallucinations already, and he is an alcohol addict and tells her children to bring him to rehabilitation center. This time, he got even thinner and thinner, he would sell anything of value in the house just to buy alcohol.
After few months, he became weaker and weaker and got hospitalized again. This time his liver gave up already and he eventually died. I feel like my aunt was saddened by my uncle’s death but somehow relieved that he is gone already. Now my aunt lives in a peaceful life as a widow and a grandma to his two grandsons.
One of the major causes of my aunt and uncle quarrelsome marriage is alcohol or vice, most of the time they fight because uncle comes home drunk. Alcohol has been cited by researchers as a frequent factor in violent acts against women. When men are intoxicated with alcohol, some of them become violent and inflicts physical or emotional harm to their partners (Jasinski, 2011).
Another explanation to this violence is also explained by the Resource theory which views men as using violence within the family to establish power over women within family dynamics when other resources of persuasion are lacking. This theory is also supported by the exchange theory, which says that men’s violence against women can be interpreted as a means for men to maintain their position in the social structure (Jasinski, 2011). This is true in connection with my uncle and aunt’s situation, my uncle wants to be on the top of the social structure, he wants to be the controller of the family, but my aunt wouldn’t also want to be controlled by his husband, no one wants to lower down his/her pride.
Another explanation to this violence is the Psychopathological explanation of violence against women; it suggests that individuals who are violent toward women have some type of personality disorder or mental illness that might get in the way of otherwise normal inhibitions about violent behaviour (Jasinski, 2011). If a person is in his right mind he would never hurt a woman, considering that a woman is naturally weaker physically than men.
- In my aunt and uncle’s situation, there was no formal agency that helped them in their domestic issues. However, our grandmother has given them advices to solve their marital issues as well as the barangay captain. But apparently, it did not help them make their marriage peaceful.
- I can recommend to the government to adopt or reinforce social protection measures so that injuries caused to women and children by violent acts are provided for under social protection schemes.
- To promote the training of professionals working with young people, as well as health personnel, to identify children and adolescents growing up in violent homes and to take the necessary measures to assist them. This is very important because I noticed that the behaviour of my cousins growing up in violent home is also affected, they easily talk back to the elders, hot-tempered and wound tend to be associated with wrong peers due to lack of guidance.
- For my aunt, I recommend that she should receive psychological support, counselling or de-briefing for her to release all her traumas, fears and bad experiences so she could start a new life and be more progressive in her career and assume her responsibilities freely as a mother, teacher and a grandmother to her grandsons.