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2010 Vagina Warriors

By Fides Enriquez and Elena Mangahas from the
2010 V-Diaries
Manila born, Geraldine Nuval arrived in the US at the age of two. Becoming a young mother propelled her into a career as a Radiological Technician. Later her strengths in Administration, Management, and Merchandising became more apparent after graduation from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Design and a Minor in Business. She found her love of “all things beautiful” and in June 1998 opened My Boudoir Lingerie. With Geraldine’s vast knowledge in her field, My Boudoir has acquired many accolades for“Best of”in SF Magazine, Bay Guardian, and SF Weekly in 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Gerri is a survivor of domestic violence.

I’ve always believed that I am a strong woman, but my abuser physically, emotionally and psychologically stripped me of all of my self-worth.

The worst effects of domestic violence on me were two-fold: To this day I live with the fact that I had brought this terrible person, my ex-husband into my daughter’s life as well. I never wanted her to go through and experience the ordeal. But she experienced it with me, and I never wanted that in her life.

Secondly, I lost the ability to trust. It took me a long time, years, to be able to trust and only when I found the most loving man was I able to fully and completely trust again.

But actually experiencing the brutality and terror of domestic violence, the emotional roller coaster that went with it, and struggling to survive, has made me even stronger. Today I feel more alive and more aware of life. Surviving domestic violence only validated what I grew up believing about myself.

As far as healing, I didn’t realize until a few weeks ago during the FWN Vagina Monologues “Conocimiento” that despite how long ago the experience was, there is always more to heal. Every day. We can go one day at a time thinking how much we are better and everything seems all in the past, all behind us now. But there is always just a bit more to heal.

I don’t think it’s coincidental that I came to open a lingerie shop after my experience with domestic violence. My Boudoir is my life. I like to think that I provide a safe place where women can feel empowered and love themselves whatever their shape, size, or age. I love to help women feel their best. We are all beautiful but often times we forget that.

I would like to say to all women - trust that little voice inside you. Yes, you are smart. Yes, you are beautiful. And yes, you have the power to change your life!

In 2004, the year that FWN honored the first seven Filipina Vagina Warriors, Nilda Guanzon Valmores of Sacramento was shifting her noble journey from a mission of housing dignity to a healthy, humane and violence-free community. Nilda’s current position as Executive Director of My Sister’s House follows her lifetime commitment to creating a better world for her children and her community. Having worked with non-profit organizations on a statewide level addressing issues affecting children and the disenfranchised in the education, social services, and housing arenas Nilda considers herself a child advocate, hence a protective environment that protects them from life’s adversities and society’s injustice.

Nilda received her undergraduate degree from Loyola Marymount University and was once a State Assembly fellow, later a graduate of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. With compassion Nilda grew My Sister’s House into a sustainable partner in human services in Sacramento, California designing culturally appropriate and responsive services to the Central Valley’s ever diverse Asian and Pacific Islander community.

The 24/7 refuge for women and children impacted by domestic violence offers 20-bed safe haven and multi-language help-line services. In the last five years My Sister’s House has:
  • provided more than 9,000 bed nights of shelter to Asian & Pacific Islander women and children
  • responded to over 1,900 calls from a 24-hour multilingual Help Line
  • served more than 250 domestic violence survivors of all ethnicities
  • engaged survivors in a Women To Work program, its award-winning initative
  • made presentations on domestic violence to local schools, businesses, organizations and faith-based groups
  • participated in numerous community fairs educating more than 8,000 citizens about domestic violence, and
  • hosted five annual conferences to train over 150 service providers from communities across the Central Valley on cultural competency and working with battered immigrant women.
While community outreach and education on the issue of domestic violence are topmost in Nilda’s leadership agenda, she and the MSH Board of Directors also aim for increased transition housing, better health for the community and addressing related immigration issues. Nilda notes the irony in crafting innovative wrap-around services while hoping that someday, when a violence-free community is attained, that she and her valued staff and shelter volunteers for whom she is most grateful will work themselves out of their jobs.

Nilda says “there are many reasons why I work for My Sister’s House...everything from remembering my lola’s story of her difficult marriage/husband to wanting to make sure that my children and my nieces and nephew pick good partners. I am a very lucky and a better person and human being for hearing and learning from the true vagina warriors who have the courage to stop the cycle of abuse and make their lives and our world a better place. Salamat to all the warriors (including the Filipina Women’s Network and The Vagina Monologues cast)    who go the extra mile to ensure that My Sister’s House and other similar organizations are available to provide the services to abused Filipinas in need.  ”Nilda holds these results in her hands. As this year’s Vagina Warrior, Nilda sends the message of optimism to women’s self-determination, career-wise and mission-wise.

Recognition ceremony held during
"The Vagina Monologues"
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco

April 2010

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