Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hope and help for the battered woman (4): Emotional abuse/psychological violence

Republic Act 9262 penalizes “psychological violence” committed against a woman and/or her children by her intimate partner. Section 3 of RA 9262 provides:

“Psychological Violence” refers to acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as but not limited to:
[1] intimidation
[2] harassment
[3] stalking
[4] damage to property
[5] public ridicule or humiliation
[6] repeated verbal abuse
[7] marital infidelity
[8] causing or allowing the victim to witness the physical, sexual or psychological abuse of a member of a family to which the victim belongs
[9] causing victim to witness pornography in any form or to witness abusive injury to pets
[10] unlawful or unwanted deprivation of the right to custody and/or visitation of common children.
Effects of psychological or emotional abuse  

Neil Jacobson and John Gottman in their study “When Men Batter Women” relate the insidious effects of psychological or emotional abuse as follows:
(1) “Emotional abuse is harder to live with than being beaten and it means something different to women when it occurs with physical abuse.”
(2) “Despite the pain and bruises inflicted by punching, kicking and worse mayhem, it is the scarring left by an emotionally abusive husband that is more likely to trigger a battered wife’s decision to leave her spouse.”
(3) “Emotional abuse is more oppressive, particularly when it is frequent. It can be present every day, every waking hour, 24 hours a day. What men are doing with emotional abuse is almost like mind control.”
Cycle of violence: why do women get caught up in an abusive relationship?
Cycle of violence graphic from Queensland Police Department 
The cycle of violence explains why women (even those who are well-educated and financially well-off) get caught up in an abusive relationship.

(1) For a detailed discussion of the cycle of violence, emotional abuse, power and control, etc. please surf to Domestic Violence and Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships.

(2) You can read a simple discussion about the cycle of violence from the Queensland Police website.

(3) Patricia Evans’ book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” published in 1996 is considered to be the most definitive resource on the topic of emotional abuse.

Warning signs of an emotionally abusive relationship 

The Abusive Behavior Checklist enumerates signs that show if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. “Getting Free: A Handbook for Women in Abusive Relationships” written by Ginny NiCarthy (Seal Press, 1982) also provides an emotional abuse checklist with more than 70 questions to measure whether or not a woman is being subjected to emotional abuse by her intimate partner. The checklist is divided into the following major sections:
A. Are you isolated?
B. Is your attention monopolized by the abusive person?
C. Does your partner claim to be all powerful?
D. Does your partner enforce trivial demands?
E. Are you exhausted, debilitated or dependent?
F. Do you feel humiliated or degraded?
G. Does your partner threaten you?
H. Does your partner occasionally indulge your wishes?
I. Does your partner do things that make you feel crazy?
J. Is your partner emotionally distant or neglectful?
Some of the questions under the major sections cited above are:
Question 01. Does your partner ridicule or insult people you like?
Question 03. Does your partner become angry or upset, dampening your enthusiasm, just before, or during a social event you’ve looked forward to?
Question 07. Do you feel uneasy about being with your partner and your friends at the same time?
Question 08. Do you feel nervous or frightened of what your partner will say or do if you are even a few minutes late from work, shopping, the hairdresser, or visiting others?
Question18. Does your partner insist that activities take place in precise ways or at precisely designated times?
Question 69. Does your partner groan, complain or ridicule you, when you cry, worry, or ask for emotional support?
Question 75. Have you given up asking your partner for companionship?
Question 76. Have you stopped asking for empathy or emotional support?
These and other numerous questions from the emotional abuse checklists listed above are meant to help emotionally abused women. The questions “flesh out” the enumeration of Section 3 of RA 9262 on what constitutes psychological violence. 

Where to get help if you are being abused 

For RA 9262 and other cases involving women, you can ask for help from the following:
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) Rehabilitation Unit Tel. No.: (02) 734-8635 NCR Ugnayang Pag-asa, Legarda, Manila Tel. Nos.: (02) 734-8617 to 18
Philippine National Police (PNP) Women and Children’s Concern Division (WCCD) Tel. No.: (02) 723-0401 loc. 3480 Call or text 117 (PATROL 117)
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Violence Against Women and Children’s Desk (VAWCD) Tel. Nos.: (02) 523-8231 loc. 3403
DOJ Public Attorney’s Office Women's Desk Tel. Nos.: (02) 929-9010; 929-9436 to 37
Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Women’s Desk Tel. Nos.: (02) 524-2990; 521-8450 loc. 3816
Women’s Crisis Center Women and Children Crisis Care & Protection Unit – East Avenue Medical Center (WCCCPU-EAMC) Tel. Nos.: (02) 926-7744; 922-5235
Going through the emotional abuse checklist can really deplete your spirit. The questions in the checklist describe an uncouth, emotionally distant and verbally abusive man who demeans and ridicules his wife. How radically different is the picture painted by the Old Testament book of Song of Solomon, specifically in chapter 4, where the man by his words and actions cherishes and treasures his wife, as follows:
1. Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead. 2. Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them. 3. Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks. 4. Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. 5. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies. 6. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense. 7. Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. 8. Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards. 9. Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. 10. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! 11. Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon. 12. A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. 13. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, 14. Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: 15. A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. 16. Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

10 comments:

  1. Dear Atty. Galacio,

    I would like to seek your legal opinion about my current marital situation.

    I am 31yrs old and has been married for 2yrs & 5mos already but have no children yet. My husband is 2yrs younger than me. We are both working.

    Our marriage has not been so healthy due to several issues. He had been so cold to me, always mad at me (shouting at me, saying dreadful words and sometimes hurt me physically which i dont know if it's intentionally done). He even took advantage of our savings, always asking huge amount of money for the mainentance of his car almost every month. And this was when i thought my husband was cheating on me. Despite that feelings, i still tried my best to work things out but to no avail. Until Jan this yr when he abandoned me and returned to his parent's house. But before that, he asked me to buy him an expensive cellphone using my credit card. I followed him at my in-laws house to talk things out but instead of being civil, he shouted at me, minura nya ko and halos ipagtabuyan. He event threatened me that he would file an annulment case if i dont stop pursuing him. Sbi nya pag don ako tumira sya aalis. So i had no choice then but to leave their house. At first i thought everything was about our troubled relationship so i visited their house every now and then to show him that things could still be worked out between us. Until just this month that i found out about his other woman. I saw their pictures together (quite intimate to each other). Instead of being hysterical about what i saw, i kept my silence and asked a friend to spy him. Then i found out he's visiting his mistress 3 or 4 times a wk; spending whole day or several hours or sometimes overnight. My friend didnt found the exact place where he cohabited his mistress but at least i know now the real reason why he abandoned me and our marriage. I would say i am now an emotionally and mentally battered wife. I had to cry every night; sometimes attempted to commit suicide. My health suffered as i got sick very often lately. My performance at work declined because i couldnt focus anymore.

    With this, I intend to file him a case but i dont know which is appropriate for this one. I'd like to know also the kind of evidences accepted by court should i file a case. Can i also force him via legal action to support me financially even if we dont have children and even if i am capable of financing my own expenses?

    Appreciate your kind attention to my query.

    Thank you very much.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 1. Your husband’s infidelity and his verbal abuse all constitute psychological violence under RA 9262 Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004. The penalty for psychological violence is six years minimum to a maximum of twelve years. Your own testimony of the verbal abuse and abandonment committed by your husband, and your friend’s testimony about the other woman are the evidences you can use in this kind of a case.

    Do not file a concubinage case against your husband since it is very difficult to prove in court. Please read my article on “Adultery, concubinage and psychological violence” in my Legal Updates blog at www.famli.blogspot.com

    Please also read my article “Domestic violence cases not subject to mediation” either in Salt and Light blog or in Legal Updates.

    2. Please read in my Legal Updates blog the article “Support for abandoned woman and family.” Through a Protection Order under RA 9262, the court will compel your husband and his employer to remit to you a certain percentage of his salary on a monthly basis. If your husband and his employer fail to do so, they can be held in contempt of court. It does not matter that you do not have children. You can ask financial support for yourself.

    Please take note however that the amount of support according to the Family Code will be balanced between the needs of the person asking for it and the capabilities of the person being asked for support.

    3. Please read my articles in this blog on surviving marital infidelity.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Atty. Galacio,

    I am in a marriage that I don't feel is healthy anymore. I am married with 2 kids, aged 3 and 8. My husband physically, emotionally and verbally abuses me.

    Physically, in so many ways. The problem I now have is that as of the moment, all traces of bruises are gone. My friends have long advised me to have myself checked everytime they see me black and blue all over, but sometimes I get tired and decide to postpone things until the bruises disappear. What chances do I have to take that against my husband?

    Emotionally and verbally, he has said absolutely everything to me, even I am ashamed to repeat.

    I am at loss of words as of the moment. All I know now is I can't get myself to leave him because I know he won't let me leave with my kids, whom I can't live without. I am afraid he will just harass me if I leave him and I know he won't let me have my kids.

    I need your advice on this. Thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Honey,

    You can avail of RA 9262 especially its provisions on Protection Orders, so you can file the proper cases (civil and criminal) against your husband, and obtain custody of you children.

    Through a Protection Order, your husband can be ordered by the court to stay away from you, your children and other designated household members. The court can also order your husband to stay away from places you frequent like your office, your children’s school, etc. If your husband violates the Protection Order, then he can be held in contempt of court and face the penalty of imprisonment.

    Your own testimony if credible and straightforward will be accepted by the court even though your bruises are no longer there. Furthermore, your statements to your friends about the physical abuses you have been subjected to can be given in evidence. These are exceptions to the hearsay rule under what lawyers call as “part of the res gestae.”

    As to your husband’s other actions (repeated verbal abuse, public humiliation, etc) these constitute “psychological violence” for which your own testimony will be enough.

    Please contact the DSWD’s project and hotline for abused women called Melissawatch.

    If you want people to pray for you for whatever your needs are, please follow this link to a prayer room for men and women:
    http://womentodaymagazine.com/chat/share.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would like to comment about Honey's situation if I may. My husband says the same things to me and also threatens to take away the kids (almost the same ages as yours) and he has done so several times. But what has really helped is when you pray for protection. Ask the Lord to give you the strength to do what you need to do. The new VAWC law is giving me hope. I just recently went to the police to record the abuse that was done to me and the hospital right after to make the case stronger. All I need now is a lawyer I can trust so I can get good advice. Because he and his family can very well afford to pay their way through anything. I am afraid that my case may be jeopardized because I can't afford a good lawyer. How valid is this fear po, Atty. Galacio?

    Thanks very much!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have an inquiry regarding psychological violence. what if my ex-boyfriend threatened me that he will expose our old "private" pictures to the public. If he does that, will it be considered as a crime under public ridicule or humiliation?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Please take note that "psychological violence" is not limited to the those acts enumerated under Section 3 of RA 9262. You did not specify what you meant by "private pictures". Even if the publication of the "private pictures" cannot be classified under "public ridicule or humiliation", but such publication caused emotional distress on your part, you can charge your ex-boyfriend with psychological violence under RA 9262.

    ALSO, you might be able to charge your ex-bf with violation of Republic Act No. 9995 "Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009". This law punishes the "publication or broadcasting, or causing to be published or broadcast, whether in print or broadcast media, or show or exhibit the photo or video coverage or recordings of such sexual act or any similar activity through VCD/DVD, internet, cellular phones and other similar means or device, notwithstanding that consent to record or take photo or video coverage of the same was given by such person/s."

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dear Atty. Galacio,

    I would like to seek your legal opinion about my current marital situation.

    I am 31yrs old and has been married for 2yrs & 5mos already but have no children yet. My husband is 2yrs younger than me. We are both working.

    Our marriage has not been so healthy due to several issues. He had been so cold to me, always mad at me (shouting at me, saying dreadful words and sometimes hurt me physically which i dont know if it's intentionally done). He even took advantage of our savings, always asking huge amount of money for the mainentance of his car almost every month. And this was when i thought my husband was cheating on me. Despite that feelings, i still tried my best to work things out but to no avail. Until Jan this yr when he abandoned me and returned to his parent's house. But before that, he asked me to buy him an expensive cellphone using my credit card. I followed him at my in-laws house to talk things out but instead of being civil, he shouted at me, minura nya ko and halos ipagtabuyan. He event threatened me that he would file an annulment case if i dont stop pursuing him. Sbi nya pag don ako tumira sya aalis. So i had no choice then but to leave their house. At first i thought everything was about our troubled relationship so i visited their house every now and then to show him that things could still be worked out between us. Until just this month that i found out about his other woman. I saw their pictures together (quite intimate to each other). Instead of being hysterical about what i saw, i kept my silence and asked a friend to spy him. Then i found out he's visiting his mistress 3 or 4 times a wk; spending whole day or several hours or sometimes overnight. My friend didnt found the exact place where he cohabited his mistress but at least i know now the real reason why he abandoned me and our marriage. I would say i am now an emotionally and mentally battered wife. I had to cry every night; sometimes attempted to commit suicide. My health suffered as i got sick very often lately. My performance at work declined because i couldnt focus anymore.

    With this, I intend to file him a case but i dont know which is appropriate for this one. I'd like to know also the kind of evidences accepted by court should i file a case. Can i also force him via legal action to support me financially even if we dont have children and even if i am capable of financing my own expenses?

    Appreciate your kind attention to my query.

    Thank you very much.

    ReplyDelete
  9. 1. Please read my Legal Updates blog (www.famli.blogspot.com) posts on RA 9262 “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004” and specifically the post titled “Adultery, concubinage and psychological violence”.

    2. As to financial support, please read my Legal Updates blog post on “Support for abandoned woman and family.” Since you do not have children and you are capable of supporting yourself financially, asking for support may not be feasible. However, as you can read from my RA 9262 posts, one option that you have is to file against your husband a civil case for damages.

    3. Please read also my Legal Updates blog post on how to disinherit your husband. This step is necessary to prevent your husband from inheriting from you.

    If you are undecided at this time on whether to file for legal separation or annulment, at the very least you should file a petition for judicial separation of property under Articles 134 to 142 of the Family Code. This is to prevent your husband’s creditors from demanding payment from you for whatever debts he may incur.

    In a petition for legal separation or for declaration of nullity, the issues of disinheritance and separation of property are both taken up.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jen,

    [1] You must confide in your family or trusted friends about your situation. They can give you the wisdom, strength and financial help to deal with this problem.


    [2] The DSWD has havens for abused women (in Ayala Alabang and in other regions). You and your children can seek refuge there if and when you file a case against your husband.

    [3] Please read the comments and my replies to the comments in a related Legal Updates blog post.

    [4] Please follow this link to a prayer room: http://powertochange.com/discover/need-prayer/

    ReplyDelete

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