[OPINION] A victim of a voyeur, and the tragedies of filing a report

“I’m just turning off the alarms, babe,” he assured me when I spotted him holding his phone.

I was on top of him, naked. I kept going, but then I heard the beep of a video being recorded.

“STOP AND DELETE THAT VIDEO,” I told him.

“No, it’s okay. Just keep going,” he replied, continuing to film me.

I got off him. He then showed me that his camera roll and Deleted Files folder were now empty, but I still couldn’t respond. He slowly pushed me down the bed, kissing my neck, apologizing. At the same time, he was putting me back in a position where I could let him in and finish. Which he did, quite quickly.

After washing up, I could feel myself losing my grip, so I left the bedroom and went into a fit of hyperventilation and crying on my couch. 

When he finally came out, I asked him, “How many women have you done this to?”

He denied having done it before. He said it was his uncontrollable libido that made him do it. He knew my trauma from a similar experience, but my outright refusal to be filmed at that moment did not alarm him. (READ: [OPINION] Addressing privacy concerns to prevent sexual abuse)

On our first date, I was given a warning by a frequent customer of the bar to not go home with him because he films girls and shows the stuff to his friends. I went on dating him anyway, sticking to the principle of assuming someone’s innocence until proven otherwise.

As I gathered more intel after my own possible scandal, names of more girls came up, and the chilling truth could not have been more apparent: here was a person who got off on sharing his voyeuristic exploits with his fraternity – and getting away with it – and I let him into my home. (READ: Violence against women: Sex, power, abuse)

But this is not the jarring part of the story.

When you’re building a relationship, appearing in court to defend your honor is not something you prepare for. You think of the restaurants and beaches you’d bring him to; you think of the fights and the strategies you'd undertake for handling each other. No one thinks of keeping any sort of verbal or written exchanges to present to court. (READ: Cebu cops nab criminology student for threatening to post girl's nude pics)

This is also true when the relationship crashes and burns and you have to pick yourself up from the wreckage. You think instead of Friday nights with your friends, when you can get blackout drunk. You think of the apps you can swipe through for a rebound.

So when I drove down to the police station to finally file a report, I was unarmed.

They demanded a video. They demanded evidence of the distribution of the video. In law school, you would see this as due process, but as a woman who anticipated becoming part of Philippine jurisprudence, I couldn't help but wonder how dumb the men were who wrote this law. In the anti-voyeurism law, the mere act of recording without consent is already punishable (Section 4a, RA 9995), and spreading it and keeping it are different offenses – yet all require the presence of the video from the victim. (READ: Can the Philippine gov't protect you from revenge porn, hackers?)

How can the victim of a practiced voyeur have a copy of the video? How can the victim have access to the perpetrator’s database, hard drive, memory, or cloud? Must they demand it from the voyeur? Snatch their phones to see group chats of strangers feasting on their bodies?

The law is a soft shell, not a shield. I can’t imagine what kind of woman it can protect. One whose video is already out and viewed by the hundreds of thousands? Someone whose life could have been kept normal, but only if she had top tech assistance to hack her perpetrator's devices?

This isn’t the kind of breakup or end to dating that anyone imagines. Yet, as unimaginable as mine was, the fact that this man-child victimized many women and is still scot-free and swiping through dating apps shows the inadequacy of the law – an inadequacy based on recklessness, a product that lacked a woman’s input. 

I write this wanting to be the last victim, which was why I had contacted his family to make him seek psychological help, and had later filed a blotter. But if the law can’t provide me the space, let this be it. – Rappler.com

Isabel Cabal is a European Studies Masters student at the Ateneo De Manila University and a writer. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature from De La Salle University Manila.