We often equate the word with blood and gore. And, when paired with “domestic,” the dissonance is disturbing because we are supposed to be safe at home.
“Domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.”
NCRFW Study on VAW
The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) site says that one in five Filipinas between the ages of 15 and 49 has experienced physical violence since age 15, and that 14.4 percent of married women have experienced physical abuse from their husbands.
The NCRFW lists the forms of domestic violence as physical, sexual, emotional and economic. Of these, emotional and other forms of non-personal violence accounted for 23% of ever-married women (separated, widowed and divorced or currently married and have married more than once).
Reported cases of abuse have risen through the years. According to the NCRFW study, such cases reported to the Philippine National Police rose 49.5% within a year (2012 to 2013). However, it also stated that only cases reported as violations of RA 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children) were considered violence against women (VAW) while the rest were lumped together with other cases of serious physical injuries. Are the other forms of violence ever reported? How does one report emotional abuse, neglect or economic abuse?
Privacy and the Bahay Kubo
We Filipinos have acquired a level of individualism such that privacy has become important even among family members. But if we look at the traditional Filipino home, the bahay kubo, there seems to be no “individual privacy”—no separate rooms. Architect Augusto F. Villalon writes:
“The rural bahay kubo evolved into the bahay na bato, where the size of the house was enlarged but much of the single-room lifestyle remained. It was not uncommon for sleeping mats to be laid out in the living room for the children every night.
Unlike today's homes with separate rooms for parents, children and other family members, the ancestral home's two or three large bedrooms were shared. Rows of canopied four poster beds were laid out in the rooms with each occupant assigned his own aparador to keep his things. Although the wooden walls visually separated the different rooms, a strip of calado fretwork between the ceiling and the tops of the walls circulated both air and sound freely around the interior. So much for privacy. However, in houses like these, residents found enough privacy to conceive, deliver and nurse babies, to care for the sick and the aged.”
Whether violence then was as common as it is now, I do not know, but I do believe that the structures and the environment we live in now, in addition to the conditions we find ourselves in, all converge and make it possible, maybe even rampant.
“We find evidence that economic empowerment protects women in a non-linear way” write Quimbo and Javier. They say that this possibly reflects traditional Filipino gender roles.
I would assert that whatever role we play should never justify inflicting violence on another person, especially one we supposedly love and care for. What is most disconcerting for me is that there is a strong tendency that children who grow up in this environment tend to repeat it in their own lives, whether as perpetrators or victims.
I think it’s a good idea to spend a little time learning more about how and why this happens. But for those who are experiencing this, perhaps, self-awareness and control over one’s violent tendencies would help greatly in preventing it.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.