“Noong napunta ako sa Haven for Women, parang bagong silang ako na bata. Wala akong anumang alam. Wala akong sinumang masasandalan. Para akong bumagsak ng mag-isa. Pero nandiyan ang Haven for Women para sa akin, para gabayan ako at mabalik iyong dating ako (When I entered in Haven for Women, I was like a new-born child. I do not know anything. I do not have anyone to lean on. It felt like I fell down alone. But Haven for Women was there for me, to guide me and to regain myself),” Jocelyn Penullar said.

Jocelyn Penullar smiles as she narrates her experiences during her stay in Haven for Women.

Jocelyn, a resident of Amansabina, Mangaldan,  Pangasinan, was a victim of abuse and a former client of Haven for Women from 2009 to 2012. “Tinulungan ako ng Haven for Women para makamove-on. Noong una, parang wala akong makapitan, hindi ko alam kung papaano na ang buhay ko, para akong lugmok na lugmok sa lusak. Iyong tipong walang naniniwala sa iyo (Haven for Women helped me to move on. At first, it was like I do not have anyone to hold onto, I do not know how my life will go on, I am very down – the feeling of no one believes in you),” she said.

According to her, when she came in to the Center, she thought that DSWD could not aid her, because she viewed it as a prison. But then, she chose to look for the positive side and believed that Haven for Women can help her. She narrated how Haven for Women assisted her. She slowly gained her self-confidence and the hope that once lost because of her bad experience. She was really glad that Haven for Women staff did not neglect her, instead they acted as her parents.

“Tinulungan nila akong mag-umpisa ulit, tinuruan nila ako kung papaano lumaban sa hamon ng buhay (They helped me to start again, they taught me how to face life challenges),” she said. The Center gave her a chance to study again and finished high school while in the facility. After which, she also enrolled for a vocational course on Massage Therapy. When she came out from the Center, she said, at first it was really hard to cope up. She belittled herself, but because of Haven for Women she learned how to socialize. With drive and determination to achieve her goals, she entered in college and became a working student. Her sacrifices paid off when she graduated with the degree of  Bachelor of Theology in 2015.

The eagerness to help other woman emanates from her experiences in  Haven for Women. “Gusto ko talagang makatulong sa ibang kababaihan kagaya ko, kasi alam ko ang pakiramdam ng kailangan ng tulong (I really wanted to help other women like me, because I know the feeling of being in need),” she stated. She is now applying all what she has learned inside the facility to her own family and in work as a Unit Manager of a big company.

“Nagpapasalamat talaga ako sa Haven for Women, hindi ako ito ngayon kung hindi dahil sa kanila. Lahat ng ginagawa ko, lahat ng naaabot ko, hinding hindi ko malilimutan na Haven for Women ang isa sa mga tumulong sa akin (I am really thankful to Haven for Women, I am not who I am today if not because of them. Everything I do, everything I achieved, I will never forget that Haven for Women is one of the few who helped me),” she said.

“Maraming salamat, Haven for Women at DSWD sa walang sawang pagtulong, pagsuporta at paggabay sa mga kababaihang kagaya ko. Malungkot man sabihin na meron at meron pa ring mga kababaihang naaabuso, pero nandiyan pa rin kayo gumagabay at tumutulong sa amin (Thank you, Haven for Women and DSWD for the tireless help, support, and guidance to women like me. Sad to say there are still women being abused, but you’re still there guiding and helping us),” she added. “Pinagdarasal ko ang Haven for Women upang mas pagpalain, at sana patuloy kayong gamitin ni God upang maging instrument para tulungan ang mga nangangailangan (I am praying for Haven for Women and DSWD to have more blessings, and I hope that God will continue to use you as instruments to help others who are in need), Thank you and God bless”, she ended.

Haven for Women is a DSWD-operated center that provides temporary shelter and protective custody to women aged 18-59 years old who are victims of involuntary or forced prostitution, illegal recruitment, battered/abused, victims of sexual abuse, women in detention, and armed conflict. #By: Henry J. Juyno, Information Officer I, Social Marketing Unit