The wages of violence
Women survivors of violence often talk of the painful aftermath of an incidence of violence, especially at the hands of a beloved.
Usually, the offender would be all remorse, in tears as he (for it is usually a male partner) tries to apologize for the incident, often deflecting blame—on alcohol, drugs, “anger management” issues—and somehow getting the victim to share in his guilt. What follows after the tearful apology, perhaps accompanied by flowers or an expensive trifle, is a “honeymoon” period. The perpetrator becomes extra nice, thoughtful, dutiful. Meanwhile, the survivor is left living in fear, waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. And sadly, it inevitably does. Something ticks off the habitual offender and he lashes out again.
This is what’s known as the “cycle of violence.” Only when the habitually guilty party seeks proper counseling, or the victim finds the inner resources to break away from the abusive relationship, will the cycle end.
The Filipino public is currently being “treated” to a real-life demonstration of this cycle of violence. Showbiz couple Ana Jalandoni and Kit Thompson are embroiled in a case involving charges of physical injuries and illegal detention, with Jalandoni “rescued” by police from a hotel room in Tagaytay after she reported her abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, Thompson.
While Thompson was brought to the police station for questioning, Jalandoni faced the media to explain what happened, revealing that this was not the first time her boyfriend had laid hands on her. But what was more intriguing was Jalandoni’s assertion that she still loves the actor, though she is determined to pursue legal action against him.
This private altercation between the local showbiz couple was overshadowed by that infamous slapping incident at the recent Academy Awards. Belatedly stung on his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s behalf, huge Hollywood star Will Smith (who later won as best actor) got up from his seat, strolled to the stage, and slapped comedian Chris Rock. Rock had jokingly mentioned Pinkett-Smith’s shaven head, referencing the movie “G.I. Jane,” probably unaware that she was suffering from alopecia, an ailment that causes hair loss.
Smith has since apologized to Rock, but opinion on who was to blame—Rock for his rudeness and insensitivity, Smith for resorting to violence and verbal abuse—has been divided. Some have since come to condemn both men for depriving Pinkett-Smith her “agency” as a woman and the real offended party.
Meanwhile, what was considered a “historical” moment for women at Hollywood’s biggest celebration, with women recognized as best director (Jane Campion being only the third woman to be so recognized), best adapted screenplay (which later won best picture), first “queer woman of color” as best supporting actress, best original song, and costume designer—as well as three women comedians as hosts—was overshadowed, predictably it seems, by men’s penchant for violence.
Is violence, whatever the provocation, the language men know best? In these islands, Filipinos are all too familiar with how violence is wielded to assert power, dominance, and, yes, manhood.
Kurt Matthew Teves, the son of a congressman, recently gave up his post as a minor government official when video showed him and three bodyguards beating up a security guard who stopped his vehicle from entering a subdivision because it did not have the needed sticker. The congressman’s son could not even blame the incident on his lack of self-control. His vehicle dutifully left the subdivision but returned later with another van filled with bodyguards. Together they punched, kicked, and even held a pistol to the security guard’s head.
Until video evidence of the incident surfaced, the father of the bully, House Deputy Speaker and Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., blamed the “many rude security guards at BF Homes,” for the violence his son had inflicted on the unarmed guard.
In a text message to the Inquirer on Friday, Las Piñas City police chief Lt. Col. Jaime Santos said they have filed complaints of physical injuries, grave threats, and violation of the Omnibus Election Code against the younger Teves. The police earlier said it was canceling Teves’ gun permit, while BF Homes’ legal counsel has announced that it was filing a case against the congressman’s son.
Such are the wages of violence, both personal and social. Like remorseful abusers, those who wield violence may later regret it, but only after facing far more serious consequences than a wounded ego or tarnished reputation.
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