DALY CITY, Calif. – Being a Kumare, as we members of ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment call ourselves, we have a heightened awareness of dating and domestic abuse, or what is now known as intimate partner violence.
We teach what we learn from clinicians, advocates, survivors and perpetrators, about the dynamics of healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships. Next month, October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we are holding our 14th annual Free from Violence Presentation and Resource Provider Fair 5-7:30 pm, Oct. 12, at Colma Community Center on 1520 Hillside Blvd., Colma 94014. The Philippine Consulate General and Asian American Recovery Services – Healthright 360 are sponsoring what is also our 15th anniversary celebration.
Public officials will call the community to action against domestic violence. The family that lost a loved one in a fatal attack by an ex-boyfriend will share their testimony. Resource providers will consult about their services.
At every ALLICE event, I personally return to the time and situation that brought me here in the first place, especially this year, our 15th anniversary .
We humans instinctively know when we are being violated, but several other thoughts run through our mind at the same time, thinking it is not really happening. “Whom do I talk to? Where can I go? What can I do?”
This was the case with newly married young student Tomoko, (not her real name) I met in early 2000. She reluctantly but trustingly, and sporadically confided to me that her husband had begun to be very jealous, watched her every move and more, that made her feel like a prisoner. Over several months, after having their first child, the situation worsened: In one of her husband’s fits of anger, he tied her to a chair so she could not leave the house.
One time she called to inform me that she had managed to escape. Husband was in the shower, baby was asleep. She was to check in a hotel for two nights because the shelter she was going to would have a space available only after the weekend. She was so scared. She had cautiously consulted a service agency about her situation that arrangements were made to place her in a shelter.
Instead of the hotel, I took her to my place for the weekend for there we had security. I instructed the guard not to let anybody in who wanted to see me, as I was not expecting any guest.
We left to get her personal supplies and have dinner. Upon return, we saw a police notice on my door requiring me and her to check in at Taraval station, the nearest.
A missing person report had been filed with me believed to be harboring her. The husband had reported her missing. He suspected that I was helping her because I was a witness at their civil wedding in San Francisco City Hall, where my address was shown.
So we presented ourselves to the police station, and were cleared. Apparently, the police had to contact the station where the husband made the report to confirm that Tomoko had been located and was no longer missing.
No sooner had we returned to my home when we heard loud knocking on the door: the husband, with their child crying, was at the door. Her husband’s voice terrified Tomoko, who dived under the dining table and went into fetal position. I called 911 and the security guard. The 911 operator guided us while assuring the police was on their way. I was afraid that the husband could break.
Upon police arrival, I opened the door and have them speak with Tomoko. The police was the intermediary, conveying the husband’s messages.
The husband threatened her to go home with him that night or she would never see their child again. That conversation was outside the house but in the presence of the police.
Tomoko agonized. Bitterly crying and heartbroken, she decided to go with him that night.
I never heard back from her again, my phone number must have been blocked. Even years later, on social media, her name does not come up. I hope she is alive.
BELIEVE IN HEALING
These days, in the widely reported sexual abuse by the clergy, the hearts and souls of the faithful cry out with grief. How can a person of trust betray us? We grieve. Yes, prayers and penance will cleanse us as a community of believers.
But, now more than ever, education on how to recognize abuse early on, what to do, where to go, what resources are available, are essential to the healing process.
Our knowledge, attitudes and behaviors are shaped by the environment in which we were raised. Newcomers in this country come from a culture so different; some may be accustomed to being subservient, until it sinks in that equality is the norm in the adopted country.
While equality is the law, inequality prevails in many places, even at home where a perpetrator wields total power and control at the expense of the comfort and safety of other members.
ALLICE has, for 15 years, been an advocate, helping educate the community on maintaining healthy relationships, preventing abuse and violence by instilling the dynamics of healthy interaction. Our group of professionals, civic leaders, resource providers is dedicated to addressing an illness in society.
Our team is supported by longtime donor allies Philippine News, Philippines Today, Positively Filipino, Inquirer.net, Holy Child & St. Martin Episcopal Church, Lucky Chances, Moonstar, Cafe Savini, Noah’s Bagels, Hapag Filipino, Kuya’s Asian Cuisine, Guy Guerrero, Ray Satorre, Francis Espiritu, Kumare Elsa Agasid,Boy & Baby’s Pastries, Kumare Ofie Albrecht, Bernard Simon, Jr., Becca Schatz, Joaquin & Matias Moreno in staging the Oct. 12 program.
Join us at our free and open to the public event. Arming ourselves with information is the first step to protecting our homes and neighborhoods.
Nellie Hizon is 2018 President of ALLICE founded by PNews Editor at Large Cherie M. Querol Moreno. For more information visit www.allicekumares.com.