Don’t TOUCH Me

December 4, 2006 at 11:10 pm 41 comments

The words printed on Mama’s T-shirt on the faded photographs caught my eye as I was going through our photo albums.  There were about three pictures in which she was wearing this white V-neck T-shirt with red printed letters.  DON’T TOUCH ME.   

You see, we owned this tailor shop in Noveleta, Cavite.  The name of the shop – TOUCH Casual.  It was located right at the center of town and since my parents were the only tailors in town, they were very well known and people called them Mr. and Mrs. Touch. 

DON’T TOUCH ME.   The word Touch was in bold letters.  I wondered if that was my mother’s cry for help.

Touch Casual 

It was the summer when I turned ten, in the mid-70s.  The lazy days of summer were starting to bore me and I asked my father if I could take baton-twirling lessons.  I must have been fascinated by the majorettes leading the town band as they marched on our street during processions. 

He knew someone who knew the band majorette and he immediately signed me up for lessons.  The majorette was a very pretty young lady with short hair.  The first day we met, she showed me right away how to twirl the baton.  She held that shiny metal rod and spun it so gracefully in her hand. I struggled at first because I’ve always had sweaty palms and I would constantly wipe my hands on my shirt.  My mother bought me my own baton so I could practice at home.   

After just a couple of weeks’ lesson, the band was invited to play at a funeral procession and my majorette trainor said that I was going with them and so is the other girl who was also my age.  “Are you sure I’m ready for this?”  I asked her.  “Yes, you don’t have to twirl your baton anyway,” she said.  We were just going to march in front of the band.

I was so excited.  Mama made me a nice outfit.  It was a white long-sleeved shirt and a red mini skirt with white pipings.  I also wore my white knee long socks and black leather shoes.  Mama bought me my own whistle tied on a thick yellow cord and of course I had my baton in my hand. 

I marched there in front of the band, so did the other girl who was the same age as me and our majorette in the middle leading the band while they played solemn hymns.  I know, my first gig as a majorette was a funeral but it didn’t matter.  People recognized me when the procession passed our street.  I heard people saying, “There’s the daughter of Mr. Touch.”

baton  

It was late at night a couple of months later.  My father came home drunk and he was fighting with my mother in the other room.  My younger sister and I huddled on the floor behind the couch.  I could hear my sister clenching her teeth.  She was terrified.  So was I and Ate Flor, our yaya/helper who was also there beside us on the floor.  

I could tell that he was hurting my mother.  She was crying and begging him to stop.  I wanted to stop him and I was sure Ate Flor also wanted to stop him.  But we knew better.  This was not the first time that he beat her.  There were many other times and it happened when he’s had too much to drink. 

I could have hated him for hurting Mama.  But he was my father and I was Papa’s girl.  That is, when he wasn’t drunk.  He was very loving when he was sober.  He would tell us jokes.  He’d help me with homework.  He’d stay up late with me to finish my art projects.  We played scrabble.  We went bowling. We had outings with other families.  People came to the shop and would make friends with them.  We were a happy family, or so people thought.  They didn’t know what happened behind the doors when the shop closed at night. 

Then thump!  He hit her with something really hard.  I could tell from her moaning.  And then there was silence.  The raving stopped.  He must have passed out from his drunkenness. 

After a while, Mama appeared before us.  She was black and blue on the forehead.  She had a cut and she was bleeding.  She summoned me and asked me to go with her to the doctor who lived just a few houses away.  I was frightened as it was already late at night.  But I wanted to be there for her.  As we stepped out of the door, I saw my baton lying on the floor.  He hit her with the baton.  My baton.  I wanted to cry but we were already outside.  I didn’t want people to see me cry.  

Why did I sign up for that baton-twirling lessons?  I felt so guilty.  Had I not wanted to be a majorette, he wouldn’t have hit her with the baton.  Of course now I realize that he would have hit her with something else.  But as a ten-year old child, that was what I thought.   

We got to the doctor’s house and he asked Mama what had happened.  She told him that she hit her head on a pole really hard.  She didn’t tell him that my father beat her up.  Nobody was to know.  It was our dirty little secret.  

 dont touch me

Last week, I read two posts, one by Toe and the other one by Manilenya.  Both mentioned the campaign against violence against women.  I didn’t know about the White Ribbon Campaign wherein you wear a white ribbon to protest against violence against women for 16 days (November 25 – December 10).  I also didn’t know that there is an International Human Rights Day.  But I thought that it was wonderful that these two women were writing about this very important topic, a topic that hits very close to home.  And I thought that I should do my part in giving you a picture of what domestic violence really looks like.  For as Toe has mentioned, she has been ignorant most of her life with issues like this because she has lived with wonderful men.  And as Manilenya has cited, “Domestic violence happens everywhere.  It affects someone near you.  At least 1 in 3 women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.  Usually, the abuser is a member of her own family or someone known to her.” 

I have reason to believe that that statistic may be quite accurate.  Abused women don’t usually talk about the abuse with anyone.  They are ashamed and embarrassed so they suffer in silence. 

Toe has mentioned in her post that a lot of women who deal with physical and emotional abuse are poor and uneducated.  My mother finished only the sixth grade when the abuse happened.  Looking back now, I think her lack of education and the concerns of how she would provide for me and my sister was what held her back and stayed in the relationship for as long as she did.  And of course, the Philippines being a Catholic country, women were brought up to serve and stay with her husband.  And she didn’t seek help for my father’s alcoholism because of the stigma attached to it. 

But she eventually was able to muster up all her courage to leave my father, for fear of her life.  And she raised me and my sister by herself. 

If there is anybody out there dealing with domestic abuse, I just want you to know that you can stop this.  YOU have the power to stop this, not your abuser.  The abuser won’t change.  YOU have to be the change.  And I just want to assure you that things do get better.  Just don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Related posts:

Forgiveness Comes From the Most Unexpected Place

Reconnecting and Healing

Entry filed under: Alcoholism, Memory Lane, Roadblocks. Tags: .

Pinoyatbp. is back! Bahaw at Tutong – My first Tagalog post

41 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ann  |  December 5, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    I was reading Tin’s (http://esophoric.blogspot.com/) blog this afternoon and you almost have the same post.

    I feel sad everytime I hear stories like this. Not all women have the courage to say that they are battered wife. Much more to leave and shoulder the responsibility of being a single mom.

    Luckily, we have these NGO’s who help, support, fight and give assistance for them.

    I was touched with your life story. Salute to your mom.

    Reply
  • 2. pining  |  December 5, 2006 at 4:42 pm

    hi niceheart. nakakabagbag damdamin naman ang iyong post. i just hope that its all behind you now..

    Reply
  • 3. DatuPanot  |  December 5, 2006 at 7:09 pm

    there is no excuse for violence.

    Reply
  • 4. manilenya  |  December 5, 2006 at 9:52 pm

    Yes it’s true..domestic violence happens everywhere. Kahit mismo sa hindi mo inaasahang pagkakataon at panahon. I was in a progressive org when I was in college and there I met the father of my kid, na katulad ko sumisigaw ng pantay na karapatan ng babae at lalaki. Pero sa likod noon ako mismo at siya mismo ay mga karakter sa likod ng pisikal na pang-aabuso. Ako katulad ng iyong ina ay naging biktima rin ng domestic violence at ako tulad ng iyong ina ay naging matapang para ipaglaban ang karapatan ko na hindi saktan ulit ng kung sino mang lalaki. Mabuhay ang iyong ina at syempre mabuhay ang mga kababaihan!

    May isa akong kwento ukol dito sana mabasa mo.

    P.S kapag tatanungin ulit ako kung bakit ako single mom, hindi ako mahihiyang sabihing “KASI NAGING MATAPANG AKO!”
    Advance Happy Inernational Human Rights Day para kay mom mo.

    Reply
  • 5. niceheart  |  December 5, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    Ann, I went over to Tin’s site. May pagkahawig nga ang aming istorya. But the good thing is – his dad changed his ways. My father was an alcoholic kasi. He did try to change but he couldn’t resist the alcohol. It’s really good to know that there are now organizations that do help battered women.

    Reply
  • 6. niceheart  |  December 5, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    Pining, I was traumatized by the abuse although I was not the one who was hurt physically. In a way, I also felt abused, that is, emotionally. Of course, it’s all behind me now and I have moved on but I will always carry that part of my life with me.

    Reply
  • 7. niceheart  |  December 5, 2006 at 11:21 pm

    There really is no excuse for violence, DatuPanot. And I wish that everyone should realize that. Because the repercussions could last a lifetime.

    Reply
  • 8. niceheart  |  December 5, 2006 at 11:27 pm

    Thank you, melai, oops, manilenya for sharing your story. I didn’t expect anyone to admit that they were also a victim of domestic abuse. Although I was quite certain that there are quite a few out there. Hindi naman talaga natin dapat ikahiya ito. Because how can we stop it if we don’t speak out, di ba? Kaya mabuhay ka rin Annalyn, for being brave and strong for fighting for your rights.

    Reply
  • 9. ipanema  |  December 5, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    There are a lot of children, women, families suffering in silence. It’s not an isolated case as it is rampant throughout the world. Suffering varies from person to person, country to country. Studies show that the abuser is mostly known to the abused or most of the time, a family member.

    It takes courage to stand up and put a stop to it. Your mother is a brave woman. I also hope your father finally realizes his mistakes and rehabilitate himself from destruction brought by alcoholism.

    We have lessons to learn from shared stories. Thanks.

    Reply
  • 10. sesame  |  December 6, 2006 at 4:16 am

    I read about your post concerning your dad before but I never really got the full pic. Now, I see a bit more here.

    I can imagine how difficult it must have been for your mum. Even women today in modern society can find it difficult to walk out. It’s not just those who are less educated. I think it has something to do with emotional dependency and social stigma. Very sad.

    Reply
  • 11. TK  |  December 6, 2006 at 5:23 am

    women are really the stronger of the two known genders. “white ribbon” eh? count me in.

    Reply
  • 12. Lazarus  |  December 6, 2006 at 5:44 am

    I grew up free of violence at home. I never ever saw my parents fought. But at grandparent’s house, they said that lolo used to beat lola. I witnessed only one incident in almost a year stay with them.

    Reply
  • 13. Shoshana  |  December 6, 2006 at 7:49 pm

    Niceheart, that must have been hard to deal with.

    My parents hardly ever had disagreements or quarrel that we know of. They keep it to themselves, and my father was away a lot too.

    We did have a neighbor who hits his wife when he’s drunk. It was scary because we’d hear him. He’s so loud. They appeared to be a happy normal family, They take vacations, go out to dinner, come to our parties, except for when he’s drunk and hits her.

    It’s good to have white ribbon campaign. I didn’t know about this until now. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • 14. zingtrial  |  December 6, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    “I object to violance becuse when it appears to do goo,the good is only temporary;the evil it does is permanent”.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Wish you well

    Reply
  • 15. Kyels  |  December 6, 2006 at 9:11 pm

    A touching post … It reminds me of the stories I heard back when I was a kid how my aunt (Mom’s 5th sister) was abused by the husband, and he did it in front of my cousins who were still very young that time. It scarred my cousin really badly ’cause she was always the middle person, crying for the father to stop.

    It was sad … Really. But I think violence against women ought to be put to a stop as women are humans too and they have emotions, they are made up of flesh and blood. Not because they are poor and barely educated, their husbands can abuse them. No, this is not the way.

    I guess everyone should support this campaign. I might just write an entry prior to this.

    (:

    Well done Niceheart and thanks for sharing the story.

    Reply
  • 16. eric aka senor enrique  |  December 6, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    Although my father’s ultimate demise was caused by alcohol, there was never any incident that I know of or heard about in which my father verbally, emotionally or physically battered my mother.

    The only physical abuse in my family — if it were even considered as such — was between my brother and his extremely jealous wife. Having had enough of bombarding him with unfounded accusations. He pulled her to his lap and slapped her a couple of times on her butt — like a preant would do to a child. My sister-in-law would only laugh about it til now whenever it would come up in conversations.

    But I have heard of horrific cases of domestic abuse, Irene, and I would always pray that the victims would find the courage as Melai had done to get up and leave.

    In the same token, there have been reports in America of the women physically beating the heck out of their husbands so it wasn’t always the men abusing the women — it could also be the other way around.

    Nonetheless, I cringed while reading the part of your father hitting your mom with a baton. Had it been my father, as much as I loved and adored him, I would have done anything I could to knock him down and prevent him from further hurting my mother.

    And although it may be all over now for your mom and everyone else, the healing journey goes on, I’m sure.

    God bless!

    Reply
  • 17. bw  |  December 6, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    Very courageous of you to share your story. I hope that you have gained some sense of healing and closure of it by now and more importantly, forgiven your father.

    Ang masasabi ko lang ay ang cultura natin minsan ang may problema. Pag nagkakasakitan na ang mag asawa, ayaw makialam ang pulis o hustisya. Ang laging dahilan ay problema ng pamilya at dapat huwag pakialamanan. Dapat magbago na ang batas sa atin at bigyan ng pansin ang problemang ito. Hindi porke lasing ang tao diminished na ang responsibilidad nya pag sinaktan nya ang kanyang asawa o mga anak. It’s high time that the law criminalizes spousal abuse because it takes a tremendous emotional toll not only on the spouse but the children as well.

    All the best.

    Reply
  • 18. niceheart  |  December 6, 2006 at 11:11 pm

    Ipanema, my mother is indeed a brave woman and I admire her for that. My father also abused himself by smoking and many years of drinking, which caused him to die at a young age, 53. He did try to stop but he couldn’t resist the alcohol. He kept going back to it and it just destroyed his life.

    Reply
  • 19. niceheart  |  December 6, 2006 at 11:14 pm

    Sesame, yes, it had been difficult for her. And even after she walked out, she had to be a single mother for me and my sister. And she worked hard just to be able to provide for us, even enrolling us at private schools. I think you’re right that even women today find it hard to walk out because of emotional dependency and social stigma.

    Reply
  • 20. niceheart  |  December 6, 2006 at 11:15 pm

    TK, yes, I think stronger in a different sense. Thanks for supporting the cause.

    Reply
  • 21. niceheart  |  December 6, 2006 at 11:17 pm

    Lazarus, I think that children should grow up in a violence-free environment. That’s the way it should be. But unfortunately, there are some of us who witness violence even at an early age.

    Reply
  • 22. niceheart  |  December 6, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    Shoshana, yes, I had a hard time dealing with it. I also think that parents should keep their quarrels to themselves. Alcoholics are like that. They have two personalities, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Our neighbours must have also heard their fights. I remember an incident when my father was jealous of one of their guy friends. Hinabol niya ng itak yung kaibigan nila. It was pretty embarrassing.

    Reply
  • 23. niceheart  |  December 6, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    Zingtrial, yes, violence is very traumatizing and can cause permanent damage.

    Reply
  • 24. niceheart  |  December 6, 2006 at 11:27 pm

    Thanks, Kyels, for supporting this too. Yes, children can be scarred for life. I am. It’s really sad when children witness such violence. The abuser is in such a rage and the abused feels so helpless that they don’t notice how the children are being affected by this.

    Reply
  • 25. niceheart  |  December 6, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    Eric, I know that some alcoholics don’t beat up their wives, but unfortunately some do. And it’s really hard to watch someone you love hurt another person that you love just equally.

    Yes, there are also women who abuse men, but I think there are a greater number of men who abuse women.

    I also cringed when I was writing that part, and believe me, up to this day, I still cry when I write about that part of my life. It’s hard up til now but at the same time it also helps me heal. And yes, this healing is a process and I’m still going through with it.

    Reply
  • 26. niceheart  |  December 6, 2006 at 11:40 pm

    Thank you, BW. As much as my father hurt my mother, I never hated him. I know that sounds unusual. So it was never really a matter of forgiving him. Both my sister and my mother had forgiven him though, even before he passed away.

    Tama ka nga sa palagay ko. Ang kultura nga kasi natin at batas ay may pagkabaluktot. Just like here in North America, I think a person who beats up his wife should be put in jail. A person should be held responsible for whatever damage he caused even if he’s drunk.

    Reply
  • 27. manilenya  |  December 6, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    Kasi diba kung hindi ako magsasalita, SINO ANG MAGSASALITA PARA SA AKIN AT PARA SA IBA PANG NAGING BIKTIMA NG DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

    pero wag kang mag-alala hindi naman grabeh nangyari sa kin🙂
    kumpara sa naging karanasa ng mas maraming kababaihan.
    pero alam ko ganun na rin yun🙂

    Reply
  • 28. Toe  |  December 7, 2006 at 1:27 am

    Niceheart, I can’t tell you how touched I am with your story. (Darn! Why did I read this in the office? The secretary just caught me crying on the computer!)

    I admire your mother. She was brave. I admire you for getting through this and helping yourself to heal. Thank you for sharing and for opening my eyes.

    Reply
  • 29. Cai  |  December 7, 2006 at 1:36 am

    Niceheart, thanks for sharing. I have a relative who was also a victim of domestic abuse. I’m glad your mother found the courage to change her situation.

    By the way – you already know me. I had to change my name and anonymize my blog =(

    Reply
  • 30. tin  |  December 7, 2006 at 6:55 am

    My dad never drink alcohol, but he beats up my mom. My mom is a licensed nurse. A professional, indeed. And she’s working abroad before, same with my dad.

    Thanks for sharing.🙂 About the domestic abuse, I won’t be needing that today, but thanks for giving me the idea about that. I just hope I wouldn’t use that someday.

    Reply
  • 31. haze  |  December 7, 2006 at 1:15 pm

    I admire your courage Niceheart ! Usually people who has this kind of experience have no guts in telling to the whole world that my Mom is a battered wife… Accepting reality is not very easy but you face it valiantly ! My father doesn’t beat my Mom but he is a gambler and I guess that it’s a kind of mental torture or violence too ! Now thank GOD he changes a lot.

    I understand that instead of hating your father you continue to love him, if I were in your place I would do the same ! Your father became violent only under the influence of alcohol and eventhough he knew what he was doing he couldn’t control and he wasn’t himself ! That is being alcohol dependent…but when he is sober that was your REAL FATHER ! A loving father to his wife and children.

    Thru your experience you make people especially women out there understand and to learn to fight against violence ! Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful and yet sad story, with all my respect to your Mother I salute her.

    Reply
  • 32. niceheart  |  December 7, 2006 at 10:08 pm

    Tama ka nga manilenya. At saka nga an abuse is an abuse, kahit na ba siya physical or emotional or kung gaano man kagrabe. Abuse pa rin iyon.

    Reply
  • 33. niceheart  |  December 7, 2006 at 10:17 pm

    Sorry, Toe if it made you cry. And I also want to apologize to the others who seemed to have been upset. I should have put a warning at the beginning of the post. Something like – Warning – sensitive material.

    Well, anyway, yeah she’s really a brave and strong woman. She went through a lot in this life. But she never gave up. And I think that’s why I’m also brave and strong. I take it from her.🙂

    Reply
  • 34. niceheart  |  December 7, 2006 at 10:20 pm

    Cai, I like the new name.🙂 Yeah, domestic abuse is really everywhere. It’s only the victim who has the power to change the situation. And I was also glad that she tried to get out of that relationship. Because as much as I loved and missed my father, it wasn’t a healthy environment at all. Very traumatizing.

    Reply
  • 35. niceheart  |  December 7, 2006 at 10:23 pm

    Tin, it’s really good that your father changed his ways. Because in a situation like this, the children also suffer.

    Reply
  • 36. niceheart  |  December 7, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    Haze, the way I look at it kasi is this happened to us for a reason. We survived this ordeal so that we could tell people our story and give hope to others who have been in the same situation.

    I think it was a few years ago when my mother’s inaaanak tried to commit suicide because her parents have split up, the mother remarried and she felt neglected. If she only knew that there are lots of people who are in worst situations than she was, she wouldn’t think of trying to end her life.

    And yeah, it’s true that it was the alcohol who made my father behave like a monster. But he was a good person without the influence of alcohol.

    Reply
  • 37. Lani  |  December 15, 2006 at 3:57 am

    This is a very touching story, Irene. I admire your mom, she is a survivor. Walang karapatan ang asawa o nobyo man na saktan ang babae, physically, mentally, or emotionally. Men should respect women, vice versa.

    Kailangan talagang laging ipaglaban ang karapatan nating mga babae, hindi dapat pumayag sa pang-aabuso.

    Reply
  • 38. niceheart  |  December 17, 2006 at 12:18 am

    Thank you, Lani. Yes, she is a survivor and I admire her too. Men and women should really respect each other. It was just too bad that my father was consumed with alcoholism.

    Reply
  • 39. rhodora  |  January 23, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Niceheart, ngayon ko lang nabasa itong post na ito. My heart goes out to your mom.

    I have similar experience with my husband. I wanted to blog about it, but for fear someone who knows him might read it, I opted not to. But I want to share it with you here, if you don’t mind.

    My husband comes from a troubled family. Of course there were abuses – physical and verbal. He even told me his father once hit him with a dos por dos on the leg which caused a deep wound and left a mark until now.

    I think it is his family background that shaped his temperamental character. He easily gets angry. And often when he is angry and upset, he gets violent – either phsysically or verbally. He never really hurt me bodily though, but he would our children. With me, it was more on verbal abuse. There was a time he called me “walang kuwentang babae” and I cringe everytime I recall that.

    Anyway, the ultimate happened when he threatened to shoot me. Yes, with a gun! Wala naman akong alam na nagawa kong kasalanan noon. What I knew was he was having so much pressure from his new job, and he somewhat vented it on me. This happened on two occasions. He pointed the gun at me, not close range though, as I was quick enough to walk away from him. Then he fired it up in the air. After these two incidents, there were several other instances when he threatened to get his gun from the closet whenever we had heated arguments. But I was always quick to prevent it.

    I don’t know how I lived with it. I don’t even understand how I managed not to get out of it. But I didn’t want my family to fall apart. And besides, when he was in good mood, he was fine and a loving husband and father, in fact.

    Right now, he still has angry fits. But I think he has mellowed down a lot. And thankfully, he has learned to bend his rules and compromise according to situations. I believe I have forgiven him, although never have forgotten. Until now, I still shake when he raises his voice. He has no more gun, by the way. Once I talked him out about those gun incidents and I suggested it’s no good for him to be owning a gun because he has bad, unpredictable temper. And I’m glad he heeded my word.

    Sorry, Niceheart.. this is long.. but I got carried away. You know, I wrote my five secrets in my blog – as I was tagged by annamanila, (I will do your meme in another post), and quite made some bold revelations – but I did not include this one. This is my most kept secret. When I read this entry of yours, I cried. And I remembered, and I felt the hurt and betrayal once again.. And not even my own family, my parents know about this..

    If you go over my blog, it’s mostly on the positive side about my husband. I am not being plastic or hypocritical, but I just want to protect him too and our family. But right now, as I read this post, I felt the ache to let this out – and let someone know.

    Thank you for listening…..

    Reply
  • 40. niceheart  |  January 24, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Hi Rhodora,

    Thank you for sharing your story, and I don’t mind if it’s too long. I know that there are many out there who are suffering from some kind of abuse or another but many are afraid to talk about it. It’s good that you were able to make him let go of the gun. Because you are right. For somebody with a temper like him, it could only be fatal. And it’s also true that what we experience in childhood will eventually have an effect on our adult life. I have shared many experiences of my own childhood here in this blog and how it has affected me. That’s why as much as possible, I try to raise my children based on what I have experienced.

    I have more to say. I will email you shortly.

    Reply
  • 41. Going anonymous « n i c e h e a r t  |  February 18, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    […] story about my father and my childhood in Forgiveness Comes From the Most Unexpected Place and in Don’t TOUCH Me, there were quite a few readers who reached out to me and also shared with me their experiences […]

    Reply

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