When I got bashed the first time I came out about my rape, I didn’t want to say anything anymore because of all the criticism I received. People were so quick to judge. Social media makes it easy for people to bash victims. Most of my bashers on the Internet are women. There are comments about me being a pok-pok, that it was my fault, that I deserved to be raped. I even got death threats for coming out about being raped. The men were the ones defending me, while women were saying, “Ikaw kasi, kasalanan mo yan kasi naglasing ka.”
We don’t empower one another. This is the perception we need to change.
I came out because I was trying to support people who were also raped. I wrote my personal statements on my social media accounts, which were taken to the press. My agents and managers told me not to come out. They said, "Don’t say your story, don’t say anything, because you'll lose your career." They told me to be quiet and everything would go away eventually. They were right. I lost jobs, I lost projects—everything was gone. Even people around me disappeared.
The day I went on Mo Twister’s podcast, I wanted to back out. I was crying and freaking out. I said, “God, I don’t want to do this. Please don’t make me do this. It’s too hard.” That morning, I got a message from a girl friend of mine who I've been best friends with since I was 12 years old. I haven't seen her in years. She said, “I’m so proud of you for what you’re doing. I was raped and I never told anybody.” And I just lost it.
My friend was raped years ago and she never even told me. We were both suffering in silence. After all the stories I’ve heard about girls being raped by their fathers, uncles, or cousins, and their mothers telling them it’s their fault—tell me, how is that okay?
People need to be empowered to speak and be educated about the misconceptions of rape. It’s so easy to say, “File a rape case.” But for victims, that is the scariest thing. Facing the memory itself is already scary on its own. When you go to court, they will pick you apart and it will be very scary. So this makes victims run away. They also say, “Get a rape kit.” But I’ve heard from people that it takes more than 48 hours to get it done, and it’s only valid for 24 hours. They say don’t file a case because there’s no justice. Nobody knows what to do.
I want rape victims to have freedom, because coming out for me was freedom. Being able to say it out loud without shame, guilt, or fear is such a big deal in healing.
I want to give them a chance to live their lives instead of being afraid and feeling alone, like how I was for so long. I want them to know they are not alone. I’m only healing now. I only started seeing a therapist now. Helping others is part of my healing.
I’m doing this campaign because I want to be able to educate the Philippines about rape, rape culture, and how difficult it is to talk about rape. My experience was just exposing what kind of rape culture we have in the Philippines. I was the example that had to be shown for everyone to realize that this really exists and is happening, and it is making it hard for people to speak up. A lot of victims have written me letters, and not only women. Men as well are abused and raped, and they also hold on to these secrets for such a long time.
So what we want to do with this campaign is to have a series of videos to educate people, first and foremost.
When I came out with my story, it was like telling someone who has never seen fire in their life and didn’t know what it was. They wouldn’t react. In our country we don’t have sex education, so people have a hard time telling the difference between sex, rape, and abuse. They don’t know what the line or boundary is, or when to speak up when something bad happens to them. But when they do speak up, they get shut up because people say to them, “Hiningi mo kasi!” or “Kasalanan mo yan kasi lumabas ka dito.” They victimize you even more and normalize rape.
I teamed up with United Voices Against Rape (UVAR) for this campaign to show people what it is to be raped. I want victims to have space to speak, instead of having to fight against everyone and their own emotions. Because what happens is you repress it—you don’t want to remember. Imagine having to look at someone penetrating you against your will. You have that stuck in your memory. So you keep fighting it. What more if you have to fight everyone else at the same time?
So this campaign is about education. We have to start there. People have to be educated and know about rape—the misconceptions and nuances. Everything is made to seem like it's the victim’s fault. But rape is rape. Rape is the choice of the rapist, and a common misconception is that it’s about sex. But it’s not about sex. It’s about power. It’s an insecurity on the rapist’s part. It’s a psychological issue that they have where they have to control other people and take something from someone. It makes them feel strong and big.
The best thing that people can
do to support the campaign
is to read about rape.
It’s easy to go online and find stories about the traumatic things that happen to people, psychological findings, and statistics. Instead of being judgmental and acting out of their own ignorance, you should learn. Please learn. That’s all I want from people. It’s even about going out and being a vigilante; it’s about learning, so that if there’s a victim in your home, they won’t be afraid to say, “Ate/Kuya, I was raped.” I want them to share the message and correct other people if they see them bashing them.
There are so many people who share my fear, trauma, anxiety, and pain, and they will carry that for the rest of their lives. Do you have an idea how much damage that causes for people who can’t let it go?
That’s why I need help. I can’t do this on my own. Most people don’t even know how to face it. They don’t know where to start. We need people to help victims. I don’t ever want what happened to me to happen to anybody else. Never again. It’s not fair and it’s not right. We talk about how God-fearing and God-loving we are, and that’s what people do. I will not stand around and let people treat other people like that. They were already violated—one of the worst things you can do to human beings. And then they get treated like this after? They deserve people’s kindness. They deserve to be treated gently because they are fragile inside. I don’t want anybody else to hurt another rape victim like that.
We, as Filipinos, cannot keep doing this to our people. We are hurting ourselves. Our future generations need us to do this, or else they will go through the same thing, and nobody is going to help them.
We are already the last country [other than Vatican city] that doesn’t have divorce. Are we going to be the last country to do something about rape, too? I want us to be one of the first. We have a big rape problem, and if we show the world that we can do something about it, they can follow us.
Why do we have to follow them all the time? Let the Philippines lead the world. Let’s take the initiative. We already know rape exists, so instead of turning a blind eye, let’s do something about. All it takes is talking and explaining. Stop spreading misconceptions and bull about rape. Stop spreading things you don’t understand. Learn first, and then spread it, because otherwise you will just be teaching people ignorance.