IT IS the same storyline.

Battered woman asks for help to get out of her home, supposedly a safe sanctuary for her and the children. Bruises all over, she brings her two children to her parents where she is lectured on the value of keeping the marriage intact and of not taking domestic violence too seriously. At the end of the day, husband promises not to hurt her again. A few months after, she sports a bruise. This time, she said, she hit the cabinet. The next day, her husband bought her a peace offering. They remain sweet until his next violent outburst.

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For many women, domestic violence is a normal occurrence. It is seen largely as a part of the married life. Sometimes, they blame themselves for the violence which happened.

The Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center (PNP WCPC) reported an alarming increase in the incidence of domestic violence. These incidents are also parallel to the abuse of children.

Nationwide, from 6,647 incidents of violence against women in 2007, the PNP WCPC reported 7,864 cases in 2008. Incidents involving violation of Republic Act 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004) increased from 2,387 cases to 3,599 cases in the said period.

Parallel with the abuse of women is the increase on crimes against children with almost half of it involving rape. The PNP-WCPC reported 1,450 physical injuries committed against children; 876 acts of lasciviousness; and 229 incestuous rapes.

The number could just be tip of the iceberg.

Women are still hesitant to report incidents of abuse, much less get out from their marriage. Community perception that domestic quarrels are merely with the confines of homes makes them unable to intervene and even report cases of domestic abuse.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that half of all women who die from homicide are killed by their current or former husbands and partners. They succumbed to gunshot wounds, burns, hemorrhages and other physical injuries resulting from various forms of abuse.

Family trouble frequently means battering. In communities, women talk about the verbal and physical abuse they got from their husbands. Half jokingly pointing out to their bruises and scars, as well as stories about the reasons why their spouses hurt them.

Domestic violence is a rights violation that goes far beyond the physical. The emotional and psychological violence prevented the women from fulfilling their individual productive roles in the community.

The cost of violence is too big. Often, when women are forced by their responsibility to make their family intact, it is the children who are made witness to the cycle of violence. Often, they grow up thinking that domestic violence is normal and part of the marriage life. They imitate adults.

Eradicating domestic violence and child abuse involves changing the perception that women are possessions of men, that violence within marriage is normal and that children should merely be in the sideline. Double victimization in which women victimized by violence are often blamed for their fate needs to end. Email comments to roledan@gmail.com