Trigger warning: graphic mentions of physical, emotional abuse
(UPDATE) Former UAAP courtside reporter Agatha Uvero on Wednesday came out with her experience with domestic abuse, and accused her former fiance, PBA player Paul Desiderio, of gaslighting her.
Uvero, in a series of Twitter posts alleged that the Blackwater guard abused her physically and emotionally -- blackmailing, strangulation, punching, throwing and kicking. She said it happened even as she was two months pregnant with their child.
"I owe it to myself and to women out there," Uvero said of her "airing dirty laundry on social media."
"I also don’t have it in me anymore to keep quiet just because I know that so many people empower this person, and enable him to be the abuser he is,” she said.
SPIN.ph said it contacted Desiderio for his side but he has yet respond. Uvero secured a police blotter last May 23 that corroborated her strangulation allegations, Rappler reported.
The PBA later issued a statement saying it will launch an inquiry on the matter concerning the Blackwater guard, saying it will not tolerate “any form of domestic abuse.”
Why Uvero found it hard to come forward
Uvero's struggle to come forward about her alleged experience as a victim mirrors that of countless of other domestic abuse victims, who are often women. The United Nations defines intimate partner violence as a "pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner."
Due to deeply rooted patriarchal beliefs and unequal treatment of women in society, victims often feel as though coming forward would only do them more harm than good, as aside from a culture of victim blaming, it's especially hard when the perpetrator is someone with far more resources, or in Uvero's case, Desiderio, the father of her 1-year-old son, has a well-regarded public image.
Uvero had detailed her struggle with their relationship's power imbalance, saying that like thousands of basketball fans out there, she was also "nothing but a fan of this man".
Uvero said in her "desperate attempt to reinforce his good behavior", she was pressured to only air out the best parts of their relationship, admitting that as a woman who is perceived to have a strong personality, it was hard for her to admit that she was wrong about him after all despite warnings she received from people.
"As a go-getter, a woman with a strong personality, I couldn’t admit to myself that I had a lapse of judgment in this man who I defended to many people who told me to avoid. I'm swallowing my pride for my own safety and for my own accountability not to cover up for someone just because of love or fear," she said.
She said Desiderio repeatedly blackmailed her against coming forward, claiming that no one would believe her, and that should his career go down because of it, it would be her fault.
Apologizing to his family whom she said was unaware about the abuse and have been "nothing but kind" to her, Uvero said she was coming out with her story anyway, believing it was necessary for her to be able to leave him, and also for other women who may be exeperiencing the same fate.
"We won't let them be the victors while we hide as silent victimes. Please ladies, we can't allow this to keep happening. Men should be accountable for their actions," she said.
"At the end of the day I love the man and never wanna be the person to drag someone's name in the dirt but I am rest assured, despite all the gaslighting I endured, that there's nothing wrong with telling the truth," she added.
If you're suffering from domestic abuse, know that there is always a way out.
Here are VAWC Hotlines collated by the Philippine Commission on Women:
PNP Hotline: 177
Aleng Pulis Hotline: 0919 777 7377
PNP Women and Children Protection Center
24/7 AVAWCD Office: (02) 8532-6690
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO)
Hotline: (02) 8929-9436 local 106, 107, or 159 (local “0” for operator)
Email address: email@example.com
Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and their
Mobile numbers: 09178671907 | 09178748961
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other relevant government agencies that can help:
Department of Social Welfare and Development
Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City
Tel. No.: 8931-8101 to 07
DSWD – NCR Ugnayan Pag-asa Crisis Intervention Center
Tel. No.: 8734-8639/ 8734-8626 to 27
Philippine National Police
Camp Crame, Quezon City
Tel. No.: 8723-0401 to 20
PNP-Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC)
Camp Crame, Quezon City
Tel. No.: 8723-0401 (local 5260, 5261)
NBI-Violence Against Women and Children Desk (VAWCD)
Taft Avenue, Manila
Tel. No.: 8523-8231 to 38 / 8525-6028