Sunday, January 24

“Ten hours of hitting”

Paula poses avoiding being recognized.

Paula poses avoiding being recognized.
Rafa Arjones

“I was convinced that he was killing me. Had me ten hours straight bound and naked lying on the ground hitting me with what was lying there. When he took me out of there and told me that we were going to the septic tank, I knew that he would no longer come out. I still don’t even know how I escaped and thank goodness a neighbor helped me ». The one speaking is Paula, not her real name, who is awaiting the trial against her ex-partner in December. Paula is one of the thousands of women that the Red Cross helps to get out of the well of gender violence. He has gathered the strength to tell his story although he admits that he has not yet fully processed what happened. Along with her are victims of all ages and circumstances. Like María, 72 years old, and who endured the mistreatment of her husband during four decades until he died. Both want to tell about their experience to help other women “open their eyes” and get out of relationships that only hurt them.

In the province, the State Observatory of Violence against Women has recorded 4,038 active cases of abuse as of September. Of these, 1,147 are assigned the Atenpro telephone number, with which they can notify of any threatening situation and which is provided to many by the Red Cross. This system gives them security because with the press of a button they can talk to a switchboard, they can be located by GPS and the phone does not hang up even if the aggressor tries.

Neither of our two protagonists has had an easy life, but from the Red Cross they point out that «we attend to women in very different situations, some have high education and income, others do not, there are those over 70 years old and 18 years old, with and without family support”. The casuistry is very varied because the problem of sexist violence is complex and has dozens of edges.

In Paula’s case, she knew her lifelong alleged assailant. I actually knew that I had restraining orders of the mother of his son, but he always thought he was “a good person, a friend who always helped you and defended you”, but when he took another step in their relationship he saw his face “manipulative and violent”. At the moment she is in jail awaiting trial, but Paula is still not calm. Her situation is complicated because she has two children from a previous relationship who live with a foster family, whom she visits once a week, and she has fear her ex going after them to hurt her when she gets out of prison. That is why he does not want to leave the province, even if it has been offered to him. “Now I begin to see that I can get ahead because I have returned to work and I want to fend for myself,” she explains, after narrating that as she was unemployed during confinement and could not pay the rent, she decided to go live with her partner. She didn’t quite move in but it was at his house “where everything happened” after “some episode for which I already knew that things were not going to go well, but what did I do? Where was he going? ”He wonders.

«Everything he said hurt me more than the blows. It was a very strange situation, at that time I did not see him as the person I knew but as a crazy person who wanted to kill me, but I have understood that you cannot live in fear, “he says.

The first thing María, 72, says is that “I only ask that if I am born again the same thing does not happen to me again, not to fall into the hands of such a macho and abusive man.” But that has been his life four decades enduring blows, insults and resignations. She did not separate because no one supported her, not even her family. «My sister always thought he was very good and she didn’t believe me. At that time a separated woman was frowned upon and I had three daughters, so I endured, ”he says. Free for years, her husband died in 2009, she wants to tell what happened to him to prevent others from putting up with so much and taking the step “now that they can and that things have changed, now that women are listened to,” she says. Even so, he affirms that «what he did to me I have already forgiven him, but what he did to my daughters, although he never laid a hand on them, I will never forgive him. He was not a good father, he never looked for them ».

«It has been an ordeal. Every time he saw me talking to someone on the street or I was just walking at the same level and he saw me, we already had it because he began to tell me that I had surely slept with them. And all women were bad, I didn’t want me to hang out with any of them, so in the end I was left without friends, “she recalls.

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