By Sokkun （Senior social worker in PHW）｜Jan. 22, 2021
Many women in Cambodia are suffering from domestic violence. The root cause varies, from poverty to lack of education to trauma. The traumatic events in their life result in attachment injuries that make them have destructed behavior such as unhealthy decisions, low self-esteem, emotional disturbance, and self-blame and/or blaming others. Trauma that these women have suffered from are often violent and usually pass on cyclically from generation to generation.
These women usually do not know the proper way to express and protect themselves or leave the situation. There are a lot of emotions and challenges that they would face if they left the violence without preparation and help. These challenges include the feeling of helplessness, shame, stereotypes of widows, caring for children while trying to make a living, and fear of being found by their husband, so it is a very difficult decision to make.
(Left: Min and her 3 children)
Min* was one of our clients who used to live in a domestically violent family, and when she grew up, she married a few times with violent husbands. She had moved out from her hometown for more than 20 years, leaving all her memories and relationships with her relatives broken. She kept moving from one place to another to work in the labor field without a regular income. Her last marriage was also violent. She thought she should hold on to her kids and her unborn baby.
But at last, she used all of her courage to leave her husband and everything behind. She walked out of her home rural village in the middle of the night, through the wild bushes and trees. Min walked from midnight and arrived at the village before sunrise. She asked for help from the villagers to stay for a while until she came to PHW (Pleroma Home for Women) in early 2019. She was emotionally and physically wounded. She had nothing apart from a small package of old tearing cloth for her farm work. She was 6 months pregnant at the time and had a 9-year-old and 15-year-old girls with her. The 15-year-old girl was sent to PHG to receive her care there.
She has been with PHW for almost 2 years, and even had her baby delivered in its care. She has now got a job and, having a job with a regular income, she can manage her living by herself. “I was working on the farm all day long, very tired, and I sometimes had to sleep in the farmland when I couldn’t go back home. The work was no rest still, I could notafford proper meal for my family. But now I got a job that not only can feed my family, but people respect me. I got a lot of love from all of the people who work with me. They support and help me out even in some part of my life apart from work,” Min said. Her daughters also enrolled in Pleroma School for Girls. “My girls got to learn in a good school which I can ’t afford if I didn’t know of PHW. They enjoy their studies,”Min said.
She has left her hometown for a long time and escaped from her husband, which makes her feel there is nowhere to go or return to. She rents a room near her workplace. Although it is a rented room, she feels at home and she feels good to return there after work. “I was helpless and didn ’t know what to do. I was pregnant and had no money even to eat. I have to take care of my girls. PHW helps me find my value and rescue me from my true reality. My baby girl is safe, and I now can stand strong as a mother to my children although I don ’t have a man with me,” Min said with a smile on her face.
We hope PHW can further reach out to many more women who need help and restoration. We hope to create a way for our clients to find a place they can call home. We want to work as a transition for the client to step away from their current dark situation towards a brighter future and towards a better version of themselves.
*Min is her fake name, given to protect her confidentiality.