Abused women may file complaint

Dear PAO,

I am 22 years old and I recently broke up with my girlfriend of three years. Honestly, I already had thoughts of settling down with her after our first anniversary. But soon after that, she changed and became very jealous with everyone I mingled with. At first, I did not mind it. But when she started involving my workmates, which really affected my job, I just had to break up with her because our relationship is no longer healthy. Now, she is threatening to sue me for psychological abuse. Can she really do that?

wayne

Dear Wayne,

Women who suffer from violence or abuse may file a criminal complaint against their aggressors. It bears stressing that psychological abuse is one of the forms of violence that women often suffer from. Protection under the law against such form of violence is recognized and afforded to women-victims. In fact, the very definition of “Violence against women and their children, includes psychological abuse. As can be gleaned under the law:

“SECTION 3. Definition of Terms.- As used in this Act,

– “Violence against women and their children” relates to “any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship , or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. xxx” (Section 3 (a), Republic Act (RA) No. 9262, otherwise known as the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 “; underscoring supplied)

Correspondingly, your former girlfriend may initiate a complaint for violation of RA 9262 against you provided that you have indeed committed act/s or omission/s which may have caused her mental or emotional suffering and that she can clearly substantiate her allegations by concrete evidence. Such acts or omissions may comprise of, but is not limited to, any of the following:

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1. “Psychological violence” refers to acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as but not limited to intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property, public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal abuse and mental infidelity . It includes causing or allowing the victim to witness the physical, sexual or psychological abuse of a member of the family to which the victim belongs, or to witness pornography in any form or to witness abusive injury to pets or to unlawful or unwanted deprivation of the right to custody and/or visitation of common children. (Section 3(a)(C), id)

On this score, the Supreme Court held in the case of Jaime J. Araza v. People of the Philippines, (GR 247429, Sept. 08, 2020, Ponente: Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta) that the emotional damage or suffering of the victim may be proven as follows:

“Psychological violence is the means employed by the perpetrator, while emotional anguish or mental suffering are the effects caused to or the damage sustained by the offended party. The law does not require proof that the victim became psychologically ill due to the psychological violence done by her abuser. Rather, the law only requires emotional anguish and mental suffering to be proven. To establish emotional anguish or mental suffering, jurisprudence only requires that the testimony of the victim to be presented in court, as such experiences are personal to this party. “

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. This advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to [email protected]


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