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All You Need to Know About Remedies for VAWC Survivors

Are you a survivor of violence against women and children, or VAWC? VAWC is an incredibly prevalent problem in the Philippines. In fact, it’s likely that you or one of your loved ones already know a victim of VAWC. According to the Department of Health (DOH) Central Luzon Center for Health and Development (CLCHD), there were 629 reported cases of VAWC in 2022. Many more cases remain unreported. The National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) also reported that 17.5% of Filipino women aged 15-49 have experienced some form of physical, sexual, or emotional violence from their partners in 2022. Remedies for VAWC survivors are necessary for victim-survivors to begin rebuilding their lives.

Thankfully,​ Republic Act No. 9262 or the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004” has implemented legal remedies for victims so that they may seek justice for the wrong done unto them. These remedies can also be the means for the victims to claim support from the perpetrators as they move forward with their lives after the abuse. This article aims to explore the available remedies for VAWC survivors so they can decide which is best for them.

Criminal Charges

One of the first things a victim-survivor of VAWC should do is to file a case as soon as possible. This can give her peace of mind and allow her access to other remedies that are available to her. VAWC encompasses a large number of crimes and forms of abuse that a victim-survivor can endure. The forms of violence that can be prosecuted under VAWC are physical violence, sexual violence, emotional violence, psychological violence, and economic abuse.

The following must be proven in order to successfully prosecute a crime under VAWC:

  • The victim and the perpetrator should have or had an intimate relationship (such as a dating, married, or sexual relationship), OR share common children, OR are family members.
  • There must be proof of the perpetrator’s act of violence. Again, this act of violence could be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, or economic.
  • Said act of violence must have resulted in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse.
  • The perpetrator must have committed the act of violence knowingly or without regard for the victim’s safety.

Battered Woman Syndrome

“Battered Woman Syndrome” is a scientifically defined pattern of psychological and behavioral symptoms found in women who have suffered cumulative abuse from their partners. If a victim of VAWC is proven to be suffering from battered woman syndrome by an expert psychiatrist or psychologist, she may use it as a justification for her acts if she is accused of committing a crime in the name of self-defense. 

For example, say that a victim-survivor of VAWC killed her husband as a means to escape from his extreme abuse. She still would not incur any criminal or civil liability in court, even after being found guilty of killing her husband. This is because the law deems any act committed by a victim-survivor with Battered Woman Syndrome to be justified. The victim-survivor’s state of mind at the time would render her terrified of imminent harm from her abuser. She honestly believed that it was necessary for her to kill him to save her own life.

Protection Orders

A protection order prevents further acts of violence from the perpetrator against his or her victim. It also grants the victim other forms of necessary relief to help her rebuild her life. There are three types of protection orders available for victims: the Barangay Protection Order (BPO), the Temporary Protection Order (TPO), and the Permanent Protection Order (PPO).

BPOs are effective for fifteen days. They are issued by the Punong Barangay ordering the perpetrator to desist from committing further acts of violence. Within twenty-four (24) hours after a BPO is issued, barangay officials shall assist the victim-survivor/petitioner in filing for an application for a TPO with the nearest court in the place of residence of the victim-survivor.

TPOs are issued by the court, but are only effective for thirty days. Prior to or on the date of the expiration of the TPO, the same court that issued it shall schedule a hearing on the issuance of a PPO. A PPO may be issued by the court after a notice and hearing. Note that there are various factors to consider during the hearing on the issuance of a PPO.

These protection orders can prohibit the perpetrator from harming or communicating with the victim. It also removes the perpetrator from the victim’s home and directs the perpetrator to stay away from the victim up to a certain distance specified by the court.

Custody of Children

A woman victim of violence is always entitled to the custody of any children she and the perpetrator may have. This applies even if the woman is suffering from Battered Woman Syndrome. On the other hand, the perpetrator would most likely lose his/her custody of their children. He/she will not be allowed custody under any circumstances if the victim is suffering from Battered Woman Syndrome.

In addition, minor children below seven (7) years old with mental or physical disabilities are immediately given to the mother. This is unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise.


Any victim of violence under VAWC is entitled to actual, compensatory, moral, and exemplary damages. This could include, but is not limited to, property damages, medical expenses, childcare expenses, and loss of income.

The remedies provided under Republic Act No. 9262 are meant to give power back to the victim. This is so she is able to better rebuild her life after such a traumatic experience.

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