Mrs. Theavy* is 30 years old, has been married for over six years, and has two children, aged 4 and 2. She studied only until Grade 7. She currently lives in a small two-room house in a village near the provincial town of Kampong Speu. Neither her husband nor she has any income or wage-earning job, relying instead on her family members for support. She is a survivor of domestic violence and this is her short story.
Theavy got married in 2012 and began having problems with her husband when she was pregnant with her first child in 2013. “He started to beat me when I was pregnant. I didn’t know what to do. I always thought that it was my fault that my husband was not happy with me and beat me.” Furthermore, her husband did not want her to go out, meet friends or even family members. “I never even am able to meet with some friends or relatives because my husband does not allow me.” The fighting and abuse continued for years as Theavy kept forgiving her husband and hoping he would return back to the good man he was before they got married and stop hitting her. He has not.
Theavy was able to contact the Commune Committee of Women and Children (CCWC) member in her commune as she lives near her aunt’s home and has known her since she was a child. The CCWC member provided her with information on her rights, counseled her on how to protect herself and her children, and connected her with different government social services at the commune, district and provincial levels, as well as the village chief and police. “CCWC has provided me with a lot of counselling. Importantly, I have learned that I am not to blame for my husband hitting me. Through CCWC services, I have also connected with other services that have helped protect me and provided me with information on my different options.”
After years of domestic abuse, then finally with counselling from trained social workers with WHI on her various options, Theavy was referred to a legal organization and has decided to file for divorce.
“My husband still beats me, and I can’t live like this anymore. So I decided to file for divorce at the court and hope it will be over soon. I am still scared though and I can’t sleep at night.” Theavy appreciates all the support she has received from CCWC and all the other government and NGO agencies that have provided counselling, advice and legal support services. She would recommend the services to other women facing domestic violence and encourages other women not to blame themselves.
Theavy is waiting for the final court decision and realizes she can finally live a life free from domestic violence once her divorce is finalized. She hopes she and her children can move forward with a safe and happy life, knowing she is not to blame for her husband’s violence or the end of her marriage.
*Note: Theavy is not her real name and has been changed to protect her identity.