I am Eileen, a survivor of domestic violence. I am originally from the Philippines and I am not proficient in the English language. My inability to understand English fully well combined with my limited knowledge of the legal system and culture in the United States became to be the platform of my husband to exercise his power and control over me. I arrived on Oahu, Hawaii with a fiancée visa and the marriage which I thought made in heaven turned into a nightmare.
I became the object of my husband’s anger without any provocation. During our marriage, he started to call me names like stupid, idiot, and dumb. He swore at me daily. I did not even know what they meant until I reached out to fellow-Filipinos I met in my church. My husband never gave me money to buy food. I was his sex object. He told me that I should always be ready for his consumption. Each time I refused, he called me names and would hurt me physically that giving in to what he wanted became my only choice to remain safe. He would humiliate me and threw dollar bills at me as compensation. He accused me of stealing his collection of coins. He got upset each time I disagreed with his opinion. He physically abused me. He strangled, pushed, and grabbed me in a locked position several times. He even convinced me that if I call 911, I would automatically be deported. So I never did. I remember being very afraid of what might happen to me. If I get deported back to the Philippines, I will also put my entire family’s name to shame. My husband also never filed the documents to legalize my stay here.
The last incident of abuse happened on the night he strangled me and this was when I decided to run away from the man I thought loved and respected me. I managed to get on a bus and went to a friend’s house. They were the ones who called the police and helped me report the abuse. The police told me to call the Domestic Violence Action Center for help. I called their helpline and was immediately given an advocate who spoke my language. Lydia Pavon, my advocate, helped me find a place to stay and found a part-time job for me. DVAC provided me with free legal representation during the Temporary Restraining Order to Show Cause Hearing. They also helped me with my divorce.
I had no legal status and was considered an undocumented person. The agency understood my situation and waived every fee related to my legal/advocacy services. DVAC was my family. They were the only one I had here back then. We need an agency like the DVAC. I hope that they are able to continue their work in helping abused women get the legal and advocacy assistance they need to be free from abuse. If not because of the options I learned from my advocate and attorney, I would have not been able to be knowledgeable in making a sound decision. Because of their help and legal assistance, I felt empowered and supported. The Domestic Violence Action Center saved my life! It was a very long legal process for me, both divorce and immigration. But now, I am safe, free from abuse and a legal resident of the United States of America. I am now living the American Dream.