Winnie Monsod: I was a victim of child sexual abuse

Posted at 03/09/2012 1:49 PM | Updated as of 03/09/2012 3:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines - University of the Philippines professor emeritus Solita "Winnie" Monsod has revealed that she was once sexually harassed as a child.

In her program "Bawal ang Pasaway kay Mareng Winnie", Monsod said her experience happened when she was only 12-13 years old before she even had her menstrual period.

"Ako rin naging biktima ng child sexual abuse. Not in any big way like Mildred was victimized but in a small way kasi ito ay nangyari sa akin from a person of authority," she said in her show on GMA-7.

Monsod said the perpetrator was a guest speaker and guest of honor of her school who asked if he could join their group in the car. Because there were many people in the car, she said the man asked her to sit on his lap.

"Ako naman si Winnie, wala. Puti na ang buhok eh. You know, for a child, any person over 30 was already old," she said.

She said that when she sat on the man's lap, "he started feeling me up. Takot ko! Hindi ko alam kung ano ang gagawin ko. What have I done? I was in a state of panic."

She said she wanted to stop the abuse but she had a hard time speaking until she finally cried out: "Please stop the car!"

She said the moment she talked, the man started asking: "What happened? What happened?"

She then said she wanted to get down or "have this man get down." Two of her teachers then told the man to get out of the car before asking her what happened.

She told her teachers: "'He was feeling my breasts' and I had no breasts at the time so obviously he was a pedophile."

"I did not know what to do. I felt so bad. Hindi ko alam kung gaano katagal nangyari but it could not have been more than a few minutes before I finally had the nerve to come out. Can you imagine other people would just take it and say naku, nakakahiya e," she said.

My father almost killed him

She said her 2 teachers brought her home and told her parents what happened.

She said her parents' reaction showed how much they treasured her.

"At the time, feeling guilty na feeling guilty ako. Maybe I did something because he was the guest speaker and the guest of honor. My parents talagang, no questions asked, gustong sunggaban ng tatay ko. The man came the next day and my father almost killed him. First, sinabi niya parang nag e-exaggerate lang ako. Sabi ng tatay ko, 'Aside from trying to sexually exploit my daughter, you are telling me that she is a liar!'"

Monsod said her father knew the perpetrator because the man's father and Winnie's dad were friends. She said the man's elderly parents later came "dressed in baro't saya" to apologize.

"What I really must tell you is that it was the support of my parents that made me strong and me feel that no, I did not have any fault in this. Kasi ang nangyayari sa biktima, they always feel they're guilty. But because of that strong support, wala akong ka-guilt guilt."

She said her own parents asked her if she wanted to file criminal charges against the man.

"'It is your decision. If you want to punish him, we will punish him.' And I said: 'No. It's done, finished. He already has apologized. His parents have apologized enough.' In other words, it was my decision, not their decision (not to file a case)," she said.

Not all adults should be respected

Monsod said there is a huge underreporting of child sexual abuse victims because many cases involve a relative, neighbor, godparent or a person of authority.

"Very large underreporting kasi nakakahiya. Hanggang ngayon nakakahiya. Lalo na sa mga babae, sasabihin nila baka they provoked the assault or they provoked the abuse," she said.

She said a victim can get over sexual abuse trauma if one has plenty of support, plenty of prayers and willpower.

She said that without the support of her parents, "I would have been hurt tremendously."

"They brought back my confidence right away. And as a result, I learned a lesson. They taught me that lesson and it was a very hard lesson to learn. Not all adults should be respected. Not all adults should be obeyed. That a child, no matter how young, must use their minds to say 'This is wrong and I will do something about it.'

"What happens to that child abuse victim is going to depend greatly on the persons around him or her. That support or withdrawal of support will spell the difference between success and failure in the closure that this victim has," she said.