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5 FAQs You Need to Know About Filing a VAWC Case

In one of our previous articles, we covered the entirety of Republic Act No. 9262, also known as the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004”. This act defines which crimes are considered violence against women and their children, or VAWC for short. Filing a VAWC case is the first step a victim can take to escape such an abusive situation.

Realizing you may be a victim of VAWC can be traumatizing. However, the sooner you act to seek justice for yourself and/or your children, the sooner you’ll be able to escape such a hostile environment and start anew. Filing a VAWC case may sound intimidating, but you won’t be alone throughout the process. In this article, we answer five frequently asked questions about filing a VAWC case.

Does a victim of VAWC need to file a case immediately?

It’s a good idea for a victim to file a case as soon as possible, for her own sake and/or her child’s safety and peace of mind. However, there may be situations where the victim won’t be able to do so instantly. In fact, a person might not realize that she or her child is a victim of abuse for a considerable period of time.

Thankfully, the woman is given plenty of time to file a complaint for herself or on behalf of her child. Depending on the act of violence done to her or the child, she will be able to file the case within ten to twenty years from the occurrence or commission of the act. The period within which the victim can file the case depends on the act of violence committed.

If the abuser did any of the following acts, the victim has twenty (20) years to file a case:

  • Inflicting any physical harm or even any threat or attempt to inflict physical harm to the victim or the child;
  • Placing the victim or the child in fear of imminent physical harm;
  • Compelling or attempting to compel the victim or the child to engage in conduct they have the right to desist from, or to desist from conduct that they have the right to engage in; or
  • Inflicting or threatening to inflict physical harm on his/herself for the purpose of controlling the victim’s actions or decisions. 

On the other hand, if the abuser did any of the following acts, the victim has a shorter time frame of ten (10) years to file a case: 

  • Causing or attempting to cause the victim or the child to engage in any sexual activity which does not constitute rape;
  • Causing alarm, emotional stress, or psychological distress to the victim or the child through acts such as stalking, harassment, destroying their property, harming their animals or pets, etc.; or
  • Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule, or humiliation to the victim or the child through acts such as verbal or emotional abuse, preventing the victim from visiting her children, denying them financial support, etc.

Can someone file a VAWC case on behalf of someone else?

Yes. Violence against women and their children is considered a public crime, so anyone who has personal knowledge of the acts committed by the abuser against the victim can file a VAWC case on the victim’s behalf. There are many reasons why someone else might file the case instead of the victim. For example, the victim might be too afraid to fight back against the abuser. The victim might also be a minor child, who is too young to be able to defend him/herself.

Can a male partner/husband file a VAWC case against his partner/wife?

This depends on the reason why the husband wants to file the case. If he wants to file a complaint about abuse committed by his wife/partner towards him, the case would not fall under VAWC. This is because the Anti-VAWC act, in particular, excludes men as victims. Instead, he will have to file the case under the Revised Penal Code.

On the other hand, a husband will be able to file a VAWC case against his partner/wife if he is acting on behalf of their shared child. If the couple’s child is suffering from abuse caused by the wife, the husband will be able to file a case against her, as long as he is acting solely on the child’s behalf and not his own.

Do lesbian relationships fall under the Anti-VAWC act?

Yes. The Anti-VAWC Act protects all women from abuse, including women in lesbian relationships. A woman can file a VAWC case against someone with whom she has or had a dating or sexual relationship, regardless of gender.

Where should a victim file a VAWC case?

The Regional Trial Court designated as a Family Court is the go-to court for handling VAWC cases. In the event that there is no such court in the area where the offense was committed, the case shall be filed in the Regional Trial court where the crime or any of its elements was committed at the option of the complainant.

Are you or is your loved one a victim of violence against women and their children? It’s best to act immediately so that the victim or her child can start rebuilding her/their lives in a safe environment.

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