My wife used to work under the Gender and Development Department at the City Hall before she moved to the Assessor’s Office. Every now and then, I visit her at her office and sometimes get to see complainants, abused women, seeking assistance, emotionally voicing out their sad stories while my wife took notes and sympathetically coaching them to tell all. Sometimes, the bruises on their faces requires no further explanation.
Aside from entertaining complainants in their office, they also schedule trips to remote places to hold seminars geared to inform everyone that there is help, through a government program, for victims of abuse, be they wives, husbands, or children. It is surprising that there just are some people who simply choose to endure and be silent about their ordeal even though they know they can seek assistance and security outside.
A Safe Place, a multi-faceted organization committed to providing help to abused women and children, provides the following US statistics in their website:
- 7% of women are physically abused by their partners; while a whooping 37% are verbally or emotionally abused.
- A woman is physically abused by her husband every 9 seconds.
- 7% to 26% of pregnant women are abused.
- 42% of murdered women are killed by their intimate partners.
And this shows only the reported and recorded ones. There is a possibility that the unreported cases are greater than the reported ones.
Why are there unreported cases? Let’s take one common pattern. A woman comes complaining about abuses she experienced very recently, accusing her husband of physically and emotionally hurting her. So, the government office concerned promptly prepares her case for filing and processing. A day or two later, the complainant retracts her statements and cancels the filed complaint. She says she and her husband have patched things up and are in good terms now. She says she loves her husband and her husband has promised not to do it again.
Love conquers all. Abused women who do not report their ordeals are either so in love (believing that they or some miracle could somehow cause their partners to change in the future), or more likely, are trapped in fear. Fear of further physical injury, fear of an uncertain future without their husbands. Shame also plays into the picture, feeling like it’s their fault they got into this kind of marriage. These factors block them from seeking help or assistance.
Hard to believe it may seem but this area is not necessarily monopolized by women. Not very often, a male subject comes in asking for help and filing a case against his wife for battering him. Emotional and verbal abuse, I don’t have trouble believing immediately, but when he says his wife made him some sort of a human punching and kicking bag, I can almost see the thought cloud on top of everyone’s head that says ‘unbelievable’… but it happens. Even my wife who has entertained cases such as these (men seeking assistance) cannot help but suppress a smile of disbelief every time she interviews this kind of ‘victim’.