There are still many people who deny the existence of gender-based violence, and question the feminist battles that more and more women and men fight every day. But shocking stories like the one below make it clear that our society has a problem and we need to open our eyes to it.
Valentina Henríquez is a 23-year-old college student from Chile. She has many of the same concerns as other women her age. But everything was going well in her life, or at least, that’s how it seemed. But in private, it was a very different story.
Valentina was in a relationship with Camilo Castaldi, 39, known in the music world as Tea Time, the singer with the famous Chilean funk band, “Los Tetas.” From the outside, it seemed like a fairytale, being Tea Time’s girlfriend, as he is known and admired throughout Chile. But in reality, it was a horror story.
A few weeks ago, Valentina stopped hiding herself. She decided she would no longer suffer in silence, she would find the courage to tell the whole world the terror she was living through. Sick of her situation, she published an extensive open letter on Facebook, describing in detail how Castaldi mistreated her. Bruises, hemorrhages, cuts… she documented everything and added photos, showing the world her partner’s violent character.
In the letter, Valentina revealed that her boyfriend beat her repeatedly in angry outbursts, which took place one or two times a week. It began to happen more and more frequently, and he grew more violent. Valentina stayed quiet, and did not tell anyone what she was going through, because she wanted to help Castaldi with his drug addiction. She endured as much as she could, until she could no longer stand it, and went to file a police report.
“He was panting because he was exhausted from hitting me so hard. I was so tired from the beating that I sat on the bed without speaking and he continued to shout obscenities and nonsense for two hours. All I wanted to do was sleep,” she says in the letter.
The police couldn’t do much for Valentina. After her complaint, Castaldi was prosecuted for causing minor injuries through domestic violence, as he has no previous criminal record. It means he can no longer approach Valentina, but many think it is not an adequate punishment for what Valentina suffered.
The letter that Valentina wrote after going to the police has been shared more than 202,000 times. Her story circulated online, catching the attention of more and more people. So much so, that many women took to the streets in Chile to show their support, marching under the slogan, “We believe you.”
On the other hand, after experiencing harassment following the publication of Valentina’s letter, Castaldi has defended himself on social networks. He blames Valentina and says that she has psychological disorders and the blows were self-inflicted. Some people believe Castaldi and doubt the truth of Valentina’s revelations.
But she is not afraid anymore. She decided to raise her voice so the world could hear about what happened. Now she is recovering from her injuries and is starting to be able to smile again.
You can read Valentina’s letter in full (in Spanish) here:
It’s a sad story, but the saddest thing is that it is real. So far this year, 38 women in Chile have been killed by men. Women die, while society doubts them when they try to defend themselves. Women have to draw attention to what is happening and demand that it has to stop. We believe you Valentina, and all the women who are suffering in similar situations.