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  • Ruffa Gutierrez Encourages Women to Speak Up Against Domestic Violence

    Ruffa Gutierrez believes that if she could break free from the abuse, other women can, too.
    by Rachel Perez .
Ruffa Gutierrez Encourages Women to Speak Up Against Domestic Violence
PHOTO BY @iloveruffag/Instagram
  • Actress and former beauty queen Ruffa Gutierrez’s marriage to Turkish businessman Yilmaz Bektas ended 12 years ago due to alleged domestic violence. Now, she’s speaking up about her experience so that women in the same plight can find the courage to fight for themselves and their kids.

    “Would you believe until now I’m still afraid of my ex-husband?” Ruffa admitted at the launch of “Voices Against Violence,” a partnership campaign of a New York-based Avon Foundation for Women and global non-government organization Vital Voices, according to ABS-CBN News.

    “Even if he’s invited me so many times to go back, I don’t want to go back because I have this notion in my head that he will kill me,” she said. Ruffa also revealed that she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and had to seek the help of a psychiatrist and psychologist.

    The 1993 Second Runner-up to Miss World says she and Yilmaz are civil to each other, but talking about her experience is still difficult now. “There’s still pain in my heart. So I guess you never really forget whatever those experiences have brought you, but you just learn and you move on,” Ruffa said.

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    According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, 41% of abused women have never sought help or even told anyone about the abuses that they were being made to go through.

    “I believe that a lot of women are still afraid to speak out and share their stories because they’re afraid. Sometimes it’s even psychological,” she revealed. In the beginning, you’ll think that he’s going to change. But those reasons that you gave and those excuses are actually the same reasons why you left him to begin with,” she explained.

    Ruffa recalled the times when she was still in denial about the abuse, concealing her bruises with makeup and keeping the real reasons behind them until she’s had enough and was ready to leave the marriage. She didn’t know who to turn to or that there was a hotline, so she shared her story with the media.

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    From then on, it was a process of healing. For Ruffa, it's essential to be surrounded by people who empower. Being financially independent is also vital for women who have suffered abuse.

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    The former beauty queen also wants to set an example to her teenage daughters, Lorin and Venice who, after everything that happened, still maintain a good relationship with their father. Ruffa never criticized Yilmaz because he is still their father, but she also trusts that her daughters “value peace” and “know that I’ve been through a lot.”

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    “As a mom, I want to be a good example to [my daughters]. I want them to be strong, independent women and make them realize that it’s not okay. That they can be independent ... and they don’t need a man to survive because if I was able to do it, I’m sure they can as well,” she shared.

    Ruffa stressed that if she were able to break free from domestic violence, other women could do so as well. “If I can overcome those troubles in my past, I’m sure that they can as well,” she added.

    If you are or you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence, you can call the hotlines below:

    Department of Social Welfare and Development: (02) 931-8101 to 07
    DSWD-NCR Ugnayan Pag-asa Crisis Intervention Center: (02) 734-8639, (02) 734-8654, (02) 734-8626 to 27
    Philippine National Police: (02) 723-0401 to 20
    PNP-Women and Children Protection Center: (02) 410-3213
    NBI-Violence Against Women and Children Desk: (02) 523-8231 to 38, (02) 525-6028

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