By Claudine Villanueva from the YWCA of the Philippines. Claudine attended the World YWCA International Training Institute 2012, in Korea and below reflects on violence against women in relationships.
I Got Flowers Today
by Paulette Kelly
I got flowers today.
It wasn’t my birthday or any other special day.
We had our first argument last night,
And he said a lot of cruel things
that really hurt.
I know he is sorry
and didn’t mean the things he said.
Because he sent me flowers today.
Above is the start of the famous poem ‘I got flowers today’, it really moved me most during the World YWCA International Training Institute (ITI) 2012, in Korea. However, during the presentation of Heisoo Shinn, it only reminds of other women suffering from violence. I know many women in our country suffer from maltreatments from their husband, from their family members, and from neighborhood. I was actually touched by the poem, much more when I presented it during the closing ceremony of the world Week of Prayer in the YWCA Philippines National Headquarter when I was requested to give reflection. I remembered the flowers I received from my first boyfriend.
I was 23 when he became my boyfriend. An idealistic woman who wanted my first boyfriend to be the man who I would marry, and the first and last man I would make love with. Before our one year relationship, he showed traits that I liked. I invited him to join or help me in several activities in the YWCA to see how active I am. One day he asked me to go out for a date. But on our way, he asked me if I loved him and if so then would I make love with him. I said NO and explained the consequences of having premarital sex and told him that if he really loved me, he would wait until we got married. He obeyed my decision however he changed a lot. He asked me to resign in my position as board member of our local YWCA. He even didn’t want me to attend any YWCA activities. He complained that I was spending more time in the YWCA than spending time with him. He became jealous even with my girl friends in the YWCA, and didn’t want me to mingle with them.
His words against me were manageable at the time. I just prayed that he would change and return to the man he used to be. However, time went by that he became physically violent. I got my first bruises when I tried to protect myself against him hitting me with an umbrella. He became jealous when he saw me talking with my two male high school friends. I prayed that he would change, because I still loved him.
One day, he asked me again to marry him. I had an honest answer, “I will marry you but I am not yet ready”. When hearing my answer he burst into anger. While we were walking, nobody noticed that he was holding my arms fiercely and as a result I suffered more bruises. When we reached my house, I talked to him with a strong decision for our broke-up. Several weeks passed when he came into my house holding white roses. It was the first time that he gave me flowers.
He gave me flowers though it was not a special day. He gave me flowers because he knew that I love them. He gave me flowers to make me fall in love with him again. He gave me flowers while asking me to come back. I received those flowers because I love them. I received those flowers but it made me fall in love with my self. I received those flowers but I never came back to him. I received those flowers while telling him goodbye. I told myself that he will be the first and last man who will hurt me and will give flowers after hurting me.
I was traumatized by his threats and harsh words against me. There were times that I caught myself crying and shaking in the middle of the night or whenever I heard his name. It took several months to recover with continuous prayers. I already forgive him that’s why I told myself that I will forget him but never forget the way he hurt me physically and verbally and won’t let it happen again.
Before I went to Korea for the ITI, I felt so lucky that I was chosen to represent the Philippines and present the best practices of our national work focused on violence against women and peace building. I learned about the great work of other YWCA’s in helping women in conflict and their advocacies. But one thing I learnt more and should be proud of is, how the YWCA helped me to overcome the trauma and the violence I experienced. Through prayers and advises, YWCA let me feel that I am a woman with courage to stand and fight against violence on women.
Filed under: Violence Against Women