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Psychological scars

Uriel Quilinguing .

OBJECTS that remind us of joyful moments are kept; those that could trigger painful memories are discarded. How the human mind (not to be confused with the brain) could process feelings and emotions, out of objects, scenes and persons, resulting in the person’s attitudes and actions is something only the Creator can explain.

Even medical researchers on post-traumatic stress disorder, who focused on people who have experienced traumatic life events are troubled by unwanted memories that insist on intruding into the consciousness, are still in search for answers.

Dr. Mary C. Lanuia, who contributes articles to US-based publication Psychology Today, wrote that remembering an event, a situation, or a person can evoke heat of anger, or the anguish of grief that compels one to protect himself, to retaliate, or to right whatever wrong was left unresolved.”

Dr. Lanuia further stated that “holding onto certain possessions may be a way to activate the recall of emotion. Yet, it is not simply emotional memory that is triggered by an object but also the connection you had with the person who is represented by it.”

On Wednesday, Mediakonek contacted Spark Philippines executive director Maica Teves, who facilitated the launch of the #RespetoNaman Exhibit at Ayala Centrio Mall in Cagayan de Oro, but she turned down an interview request. 

Prominently set at the ground floor of the mall’s Claro M. Recto entrance, the exhibit will be pulled out today, June 17, after 15 days and was viewed by numerous viewers who, most of them expressed outrage after reading the descriptions on the attires of sexual abuse victims, two of them too young to be called girls.

As announced during the #RespetoNaman exhibit unveiling rites, June 2, the same will be displayed to students at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan before proceeding to Cebu, Bacolod, Naga and Laguna.

It appears the intent of #RespetoNaman is to generate public outrage and direct their anger to law enforcement agencies for failing to run after the perpetrators and give justice to the victims, some of them will no longer see the day their abusers are placed behind bars.

To those behind the exhibit, that, perhaps, is their best strategy to curve down the cases of sexual abuse on women and girls. Mediakonek however does not buy this idea; profiling of perpetrators, including their motives and state of mind would be of great help their arrests and in the filing of appropriate cases. A gallery of suspects and wanted persons, including other information for their identities, will definitely be better than a display of the victims’ shirts, blouses, skirts, shorts and pants.

City social welfare and development officer Teddy Sabuga-a, who talked on behalf of the city government of Cagayan de Oro during the exhibit’s ribbon-cutting rites, said “they recognize the urgent need to put in place needed safeguards and deterrent measures which will effectively prevent and discourage sexual violence and harassments against the weak and defenseless members of society.”

What Sabuga-a said were mere rhetoric, motherhood statements from armchair technocrats. So, when Mediakonek asks for concrete measures the city government has been doing, Sabuga-a was a bit straightforward. He said operations of the reactivated City Regulatory and Control Board must be intensified on the admission of minors in hotels, regulating the travel of minors without parental clearance, adequate support to the center for neglected and abandoned children and abused girls, among others.

To some extent, these may work but not when the incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation are within the households, dormitories and work places.

The exhibit aptly describe the effects of sexual abuse with these statements: “Violence against women and children leave a profound impact on the health, dignity, security, and autonomy of individuals. It leaves deep psychological scars that can take years to overcome. Yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence, and worse, victim blaming and shaming.”

Indeed. But to the family members of the victims, including those who opted to keep the trauma within, the psychological wound will always hurt, without healing, if those items associated with horrible phases of one’s life, are preserved and insensitively exhibited to fuel public outrage.

(Uriel C. Quilinguing is a past president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club and former editor-in-chief of this paper.)


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