At least 80 women die every year due to male violence in Nicaragua. Many women are victims of abuse and humiliation in their own homes. More than 90% of female deaths and aggressions go unpublished.
Corina: Just to hear ‘Tono is coming’ made my whole body shake and gave me a headache.
Emelda: I always walked with my head down. If I raised it, he’d say: You liked that man, didn’t you
Corina: No matter where we were, he’d beat me with a belt, a machete or anything at hand.
Emelda: He beat his oldest son when he was 15 days old. He beat him with a belt to make him stop crying.
Voice at graveside: Her name was Petronila Araica. She was physically and morally abused. She died because he didn’t let her go to a doctor. He said doctors just wanted to take advantage of her.
El Viejo, Chinandega, Nicaragua
Corina: At first we got along well. He was a different man. He started yelling at me, telling me I was good for nothing, not even to cook rice. He didn’t bring home any food. He spent his money on drink and had another woman. He didn’t let me work. At home all he did was yell at me and the kids, threaten us, beat us. He used to beat my kids, when I tried to stop him, he’d beat me up too. My kids were only mine.
That one in the hammock, his health is not good. He used to nearly beat him to death. One day he threw me to the floor and kicked me on my back. My son, who was then very young, ran to his father’s for help but he grabbed the boy and almost choked him. Doctors have told me that maybe his condition is due to so many problems.
After hitting me with anything at hand and leaving me all beaten up, he wanted me to be with him. He said I was him woman and at home we had to do as he said. I wanted to run away. I tried to kill myself many times, but in the end I thought of my kids. They were four kids and I had to do something with my life, but I did not know how.
Upala, Costa Rica
Emelda: We all slept in the same room. It was a small house. When my stepfather was drunk he made me sleep close to him and my mother by his side. Later in the night he made me touch him and abused me. I was only 13 years old. I used to hide under the wooden floor. Even my brothers used to help me hide.
I got pregnant with my first child. My mother left and I stayed with him. She told me not to leave him, ever, because he had been my first man and all my children had to be from the same father. I stayed with him at the farm. The farm workers, the owner and his wife, supported him.
He liked to have dinner ready when he got back home. One time he came back and I hadn’t made coffee yet. He started hitting me. He said I had to get used to having things ready when he said so. That time he told me “Here’s where I’ll kill you and your kid. I’ll kill and bury the two of you, over there in the mud.” Then he put the knife to my throat and all I could do was cry.
My kids were so scared all the time that we always kept the door closed. As soon as somebody knocked at the door they all ran out to hide under the bed.
I have 5 kids. None were planned. None were wanted. They know my story very well, everything I had to go through. Even the little one, who you think doesn’t understand. One time I talked to all of them together and told them ‘you were never wanted but it was a blessing to have you because a child is loved from the time he or she is born’.
Corina: One day I was invited to a training workshop. I spent a whole week begging for permission to go. I had to sweet talk him. I didn’t want to but I even went to bed with him to get his permission. Finally I got it!
Sometimes I sneaked out. He came back from work at 2 in the afternoon so I had to be back by 11. By the time he came back I had already changed back to my house clothes, let my hair down, put my house sandals on and even got my feet dirty with dust so he didn’t find out.
Four years went by in that same situation. I told him I wanted to talk. We couldn’t go on this way! The day I talked to him about changing his ways, that day he beat me up, dragged me by my hair and did everything he wanted to me. That day he really let the kids have it. That same day his sister tried to stop him, but even she got hit. Anyway I had to keep going. Even all bruised up, I kept going to training. There I was able to let out my feelings and cry. So I kept going to training.
Voice at Training: Corina was financially dependent. Her life had been very difficult, but she was able to break the cycle of violence. Just as you did, she joined a group of women.
Corina: When I read the self esteem letter, I see that I am at the level I wanted to be and tell myself: “I can’t leave”.
Corina addressing Training participants: Good afternoon. My name is Corina. I am from the community of Sosama.
It’s sad that we, as women, are so dependent on men. When they say: I bring everything they mean ‘I own everything, including you’. But that’s not true.
Voice of training participant: They don’t care if you have a headache or if your feet hurt. You have to cook his food and iron his clothes even with a baby in your arms. If you don’t then you are with another man and want to look all prepped up.
Corina: He didn’t want me to work. I told him I was going to work anyway, that he wasn’t going to do anything he wanted to me anymore. I started washing and ironing away from home but he still used to hit me when I came back.
Tono: It’s true. I did all that when I was drunk. I beat her for no reason at all. I don’t know why I got so angry. I love her. I don’t want to lose her or my children. I love my children very much. I am used to being with them.
Corina: I barely escaped his machete! I ran to that sugarcane parcel over there with him and his machete after me. And he was perfectly sober! He put his machete against me. In the pulling me-shoving-you that followed I felt the machete cutting my skin, and blood running down from here. I reported him to the police. He was thrown in jail because of what he did to me. But in a weak moment I got him out. Too much pressure. It’s hard to live with a man who mistreats you and his family pressuring the victim. So I got him out and when he came back I told him: “All right, look, I took you out, but if you don’t change, I’ll send you back”.
Tono: I’ve asked her many times to forgive me. To forgive me for mistreating her. I am now a changed man. There won’t be problems anymore, like there used to be before, or all the time, maybe every other day or two days. Not anymore. It doesn’t happen most of the time.
Corina: He can forget. He can forget because he did it. I was the one who suffered it, the one who felt it.
Tono: I know it’s hard to forget when someone hurts you. It’s easier when it’s you who have hurt. I ask her to forgive me. I am not that person anymore. Now I am a good person.
Corina: I don’t want to live with him, but he’s sick. He has that condition related to creatinine. He has been very sick and says that he wants to die here. I married him because he named my youngest children as his beneficiaries on his social security. So I told him: “You have food, clothing and a home here, but not a wife”. He hurt me so much that there is no love left. He marked me for the rest of my life.
Emelda: I met Dona Rosita when I came here. Together we started meeting other women.
Rosa: She was a quiet woman who didn’t share her feelings. Maybe she felt shy and embarrassed. But after a few invitations to meetings and training activities, she began to let out her feelings and became more talkative.
Emelda: He hates that woman. He says she’s the worst person living in the world.
Rosa: We encourage union not separation. We talked to him many times but he used to say we were good for nothing. He said ugly things to us, that we were whores, that we were after men. It’s sad but that was her situation.
Emelda: We were visiting other places and sharing with other women. It was then when we went on a trip and I took my oldest daughter with me. He said his daughter was no longer a virgin and because of us she had become a prostitute. It’s so much like him to say something like that. He thinks of nothing else! He was already bragging about his daughter being so pretty.
My daughter had told me she didn’t like to stay at home with her father. I asked her why and she just said she was scared.
How was I able to decide that he had to leave?
In the workshops we started learning about all kinds of violence and then you start recognising it and thinking: This is what I am living!
Voice at Training: [The case] goes from the prosecutor’s office to court and a court decision may take from 6 to 7 months. Maybe by that time you’re already dead
Emelda: So I reached the point when I said: “It’s not worth to live like this.” I talked to my kids and told them: “I think it has been enough”. Children accept a situation when you accept it, but if they see their mother saying no more, they gather courage. So they got together and they asked their father to leave.
Nandayosi, Managua, Nicaragua
Gioconda: My life was basically hell. From the beginning there were offences and beatings. I have looked for support, for help but nobody can do it for you. You have got to sit down and listen, and find ways to change. So he has been changing.
Male voice: Many women are victims of mistreatment and rape by their own partners. Is that the kind of relationship you want to have with your partner. Is that the example we want to give our children?
Hernaldo: There’s no need to be arguing over nonsense. I will try to change my life so we can have peace at home. I am not the same person I was.
Gioconda: He doesn’t argue if food isn’t ready. He used to get so angry if it wasn’t ready. He washes dishes, sweeps, makes me coffee and warms up the food. There has been a great change.
Hernaldo: There’s no way I’ll do things that women do. I didn’t like the idea because I felt embarrassed. Now I take soap and scrub pad and wash the dishes. I clean the house, make her coffee, although I don’t drink coffee. One of these days I did, and almost died.
Corina: He’s changed completely because I’ve told him: “Either you change or we separate.” So he’s changed. He helps with washing dishes, cooking and helping the kids with homework. He picks them up at school.
Tono: If she comes back late, I have her food ready. She was at the hospital with a kid so I cooked meals for the other kids. I helped in these chores.
Corina: If you receive violence, you give violence to your children. I don’t hit my children anymore and I don’t yell at them.
Communication among us has improved. The son who works didn’t give me a penny so I said: “You’ve got to help. You eat, sleep and wash here. “. As for him, he does too. Now he comes and says “Here’s money.” But I told him that doesn’t mean he can order me around. I’m going to do as I want not as he wants!
Emelda: Now that there’s no more violence at home, everything is different. Everybody is in school. All four are in school, including the youngest. Sundays after church we have time for us. If there is time left in the afternoon we go to the river.
Now that I have my life back, I decided to go back to school and enrolled in first year. I was an honour student in years 7, 8 and 9.
Rosa: Can you believe her with five kids and abused and still getting the best grades? One day she came in very happy. She said: “Dona Rosa, I have been awarded honour student because I have the highest average”. I told everybody who wanted to hear. I still feel like crying when I remember, because we, the women who make up this group, were in fact abused women.
Her children also get the highest grades. Her daughter will graduate soon. She’ll graduate together with her daughter.
Emelda: If I achieve my goal with psychology, I know I’ll be helping other women. When I told my neighbour I was going to study psychology, she asked: “Because of what you went through?”. When you need someone to listen to you, to help you, and don’t know who to ask for help.
Corina: Let’s talk. You’ll feel better and I’ll be able to help you.
What do you think it feels like when you don’t get help from anybody? Depressed, low self-esteem. Today things are different. There are women who support each other. Why not make an effort? It’s the hardest thing that can happen to a woman in her life.
It makes me happy to work with and help other women.
These women survivors of violence are representative of the 839 women who are directly involved in the Gender-based-Violence Prevention Programme promoted by Trócaire.
This programme is implemented by APADEIM, FUNDECOM, CENDEROS, AMDES, IMPULSO, XILONEM, FUNARTE, CESEMA, CCBN, PASTORAL SOCIAL DE CUIDAD QUEZADA and FUTBOL POR LA VIDA in nine municipalities in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Script, Producing and Editing
Follow-up and input to scripts
ZOILA ROMERO, from
A production by Alba Films for
Trócaire and Fundecom
c 2013 Trócaire, Fundecom, Alba Films