Battered bodies, battered spirits: an open letter to a friend

Dear Friend,

I know how it feels. You don’t have to endure it. Please find the courage to seek help NOW.

Let me share with you a quotation I picked up from an article

“Abusers pick and choose whom to abuse. They don’t insult, threaten, or assault everyone in their life who gives them grief. Usually, they save their abuse for the people closest to them, the ones they claim to love.”

And then allow me to share my story.

From 2007-2011, he punched and kicked me in the stomach, dragged me by the hair, threw me to the wall, slapped me, punched my face, cursed me, insulted me and my family and friends, even took my ATM. “Ayaw mo magpa-control eh!”

I found an excuse to leave and headed to Butuan.

In November 2011, he followed me there. I will never forget that night he lost his temper.

Before he left he punched my head so hard that I was partially deaf. I asked the universe to heal me. I focused on wanting to hear the birds sing, the stridulating sound of the crickets, the soft hush of the breeze. I regained my hearing in one week.

Now, I am back, stronger and unafraid. I dare to make significant change happen. I may have a soft voice but I am a feminist who fights against all forms of abuse.

I am a revolutionary, who at one point in my life headed to the countrysides and emulated the lives of Eman Lacaba and Edgar Jopson.

And I was not afraid. I am not afraid of him now.

There’s no hero in this kind of situation — only battered bodies and battered spirits.

I’m sharing my story so people can know how to read signs of abuse and know how to intervene.

Sadly, mahina ang support system natin, even sa family and friends meron victim blaming.

In the end, no one can actually help. Maraming ayaw makialam.

I was waiting for the police to come when after he assaulted me he called the police because he accused me for trespassing. So while waiting I sketched myself. The police never came.

Many couples post pictures like the ones of him and me together that I posted. Their friends will click like or love, even comment “aww, what a happy couple” or “you two look good together”.

But what you don’t see is that one of them is just going along with everything the other says and does just to please the other or to keep the peace.

What you don’t see is before or soon after this picture was taken the other will belittle you, blame you for whatever baffling reason.

The moment you say no, the moment the other realize you are dead set on leaving does the violence and harassment begin.

They will even force you to leave. Then they will say sorry for hurting you. They will promise to change, but as long as (insert conditions here).

The other will ask for your unconditional love. The other will ask, even plead for you to come back.

You will believe and think the other was right, you will believe it’s you who’s crazy. Then the cycle continues.

And oooh how he loves drama. In fits of jealously he would smash things. He smashed the computer monitor, the mirror; grabbed my cellular phone, read my messages before throwing it either at me or the wall. In fact in a span of one year I had 3 new iPhones.

But when he got hold of and threatened to smash my MacBook Pro 17”, top of the line at that time, I went down on my knees, imploring, crying na pang Famas award quality, “please maawa ka, please huwag..”

Have I told you about my naudlot na showbiz career? I used my acting skills to survive. But I got better at it.

I can cry on cue; smile or laugh when need be. Even when you become numb from constant beatings, you act as if you can’t take anymore because they want to see you breakdown.

But really you don’t feel anything anymore. No pain, no fear, no sadness. You will wish death to come.

So when he pointed the gun at me, I was half glad that it was him who will pull the trigger not me. “Sige, iputok mo. Iputok mo na.”

You see, I became somebody he wanted me to be. I gave him want he wanted. Pero supporting actress ka lang sa kanya kasi siya dapat ang bida.

So I understand, querida mia, on why we act the way we do and tell them things they want to hear.

You should agree at whatever he say, don’t ever contradict him; sya dapat bumabangka hindi ikaw sa gatherings. That’s the only way for us to survive.

He will take everything you own, your happiness, and your self worth to control you. If you don’t submit to him, he might take your or his life as well.

We need to be careful coz we walk on eggshells, so to speak. In my case literally too because I was isolated in a hatchery in Bulacan.

There are women, men, and LGBT too who experience the same. Some live in posh villages, condos, remote villages and farms.

But then, there’s a better, kinder, and funner (fun!) world out here. I am here now.

We can do things like we used to —tell and write stories and poetry, laugh at our own silly jokes, play the guitar or sing along the songs of The Beatles and Eraserheads, paint and dance with abandon. We can spend lazy Sunday afternoons having coffee and discussing on theories and history with the songs of The Rolling Stones or Gary Granada in the background; or maybe stroll along the Univeristy oval to reminisce (yes again!) about the student movement during your time and mine, and how we first met.

I’m sorry it took time for me to show up. I should have told you what happened to me when I had the chance. I never found the courage till you reappeared.

You don’t have to endure the humiliation, my dear. I’m here waiting… hugs!

With love,

San San