Actress Ruffa Gutierrez championed the cause of silenced women everywhere as she opened up about her harrowing experience as a battered wife on Korina Sanchez's show Rated K last night, March 8.
In the Philippines, researchers of Rated K estimated that six women are abused every week; four are victims of domestic violence. Abuse, they say, spares no one—everyone is susceptible no matter the station in life.
Even the TV host and former beauty queen was no exception. Ruffa took a stand as she spoke about her former husband's violence against her and the hellish ordeal she went through.
"Mahirap para sa 'kin because I had to go [through] major depression. I had to see a psychiatrist. Nagkaroon ako ng silent retreat. I had to share my problems with someone."
Ruffa's case is of particular interest to the public. Her 2003 wedding with Yilmaz Bektas was the talk of the town. The seemingly fairy tale marriage even produced two beautiful children: Lorin and Venice.
"You know when you get married, you think it's ‘Happily Ever After'. That's why you marry somebody. You don't think you'll end up getting divorced. Divorce is always the last option," said the female TV host who is seen on the daily morning show Ruffa and Ai and the Sunday talk show The Buzz.
Many women choose to endure the pain and humiliation of domestic abuse. Despite the hardships, they would choose to stay with their abusive husbands instead of fighting for their rights. "Maraming babaeng takot ha—takot mag-isa," said Korina.
Ruffa affirmed the observation. "Sometimes, they're financially dependable [sic] on their husband. Yung iba naman parang takot sila dahil siyempre yung asawa nila ay nasa posisyon—which is like with me—bakit daw I never went to the police, bakit never akong kumuha ng medical report... I was a foreigner living in a country where my husband was a very powerful man."
"So ano 'yon—may sampal, may tadyak?" asked the host of Rated K.
"You just cry and say stop it. Please stop it. I'm your wife. The kids are there... It's a very emotional moment. Kumbaga, wala ka nang ibang pwedeng takbuhan kundi si Lord. Yun na lang...na sana may makarinig sa 'yo."
Due to her revelation, overwhelming support poured out for Ruffa. She even became a spokesperson for women who are victims of abuse.
"When Avon wrote to me and they said, would you like to be Reese Witherspoon's counterpart here in the Philippines—to be the spokesperson for this new campaign, talagang kahit na sampu ang schedule ko for that day, sinabi ko sa mommy ko [Annabelle Rama, who is also her manager] na 'Ma, kailangang gawin ko yan.' It's something with a personal connection."
The campaign that she is referring to is the Speak Out Against Domestic Violence project spearheaded by the Avon Foundation to help educate and empower women and bring an end to domestic violence.
In the end, Ruffa gave her advice for women who are victims of domestic violence: "Importanteng mahalin mo ang sarili mo. If something happens—kung sinasaktan ka—it's best to speak out. Call a friend. Call anyone and get help."