25 Stories – Rae


We all dream big. I am a dreamer.  Ever since I was little, I dreamt of pursuing a life outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to become independent and live on my own. Three years after graduating from dentistry, I found an opportunity to work overseas in Saipan. I wanted to live on my own, have my own flat, drive my own car—it was perfect! There I met a charming blonde, blue-eyed pilot who later became my boyfriend and fiancé. Having lost his job after 9-11, the only way for us to be together was to be petitioned as a fiancé. After a year and a half in Saipan, I went back to Manila to take care of my paperwork and in 3 months I was on my way to Baltimore, Maryland. We briefly lived there for 3 months. There being isolated and not knowing anyone, I noticed some behavioral changes that I could not yet categorize. Coming from a Catholic country that is not as politically correct as the US, it was hard for me to identify what I would later call “abuse”.

We moved to Hawaii shortly after. We got married civilly. And there it all began: the name- calling, the shoving, the pushing, and the kicking. He was verbally and physically abusive. He was slowly eroding my self-esteem and makes me feel like I was incapable of anything. It was hell for me in a land they called paradise. I was always in tears until I forgot how it was to smile. My face looked drawn and worried. I was always anxious. It was very hard for me, not knowing anyone and being away from my family. But I was lucky enough to develop a good circle of friends around me. I voiced my concern to friends and even to my mom. I was in denial, hoping he would change. Until one day I reached my breaking point and I told myself I need to break free from all of this. That was after the night, when I was in the couch sleeping and he pointed a knife at me.

I planned my escape. My friend and her bf helped me that one Saturday. I moved to an apartment which another friend vacated. Living along I was still at a loss what to do with the marriage or how to proceed with my life.  I was vacillating and indecisive on what to do. I loved my partner and I don’t want any harm to fall onto him but at the same time, I failed to see how he has harmed me. One day I met in my work a lawyer named Toby Lee, a lawyer who happens to work with victims of domestic violence. I don’t know what he saw in me and I don’t know how I came across to people, but maybe he sensed some internal turmoil in me. A meeting ensued, and there I met Ms. Janice who he said was going to help my case. I owed everything to Mr. Tommy Lee and Janice of DVAC for helping me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Janice helped oversee my case and assigned me to a Na Loio lawyer who helped oversee my paperwork for VAWA application.

I have since moved to NY, still dreaming big and in the process of forging a great future for myself with my current partner.

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