“Nam” speaks out on her marriage that was noncommittal and threatened with domestic violence. Leading her to seek help from a crisis shelter.
My name is Nam, and I got married in Singapore a few years ago. I live in a village, together with my parents and siblings. Our main source of livelihood comes from raising ducks and chickens in our family farm that I have been helping out from a very young age.
Since I was 5 years old, I would often see my parents argue and fight over small matters and disagreements. Most times, my mother would end up getting beaten by my father because of his temperament. Whenever they fight, I would seek help from my relatives who lived in the next village to resolve the situation.
At the age of 18, I fell out with my parents and left home to look for a job in another village to support myself. There, I met a close family friend and we started seeing each other for a while before we got into a relationship. It was not long before I got pregnant with my first child.
As we were not formally married, he wanted me to abort the child but I refused. It was only until when I was 5 months into my pregnancy that he asked for me to live in with him and his mum.
Every night, he would often hang out with his friends for drinking sessions till late. He would leave me alone at home with his mum while he drank and returned home drunk, often using violence on me.
Because of his unbearable behavior, it took me much courage to finally leave him and returned home to ask for forgiveness from my parents.
After giving birth to my child, I had to look for a job in another village to support my ageing parents and my child. Due to the distances between my workplace and home, I could only return to my hometown every 2 months to pay them a visit.
Being away from home for 8 years, a close friend of mine suggested that I should seek better job opportunity in Singapore. The idea of having more money and a better life for my family, brought me to Singapore hoping to seek new opportunity.
With recommendation, my friend found me a job as a waitress in a local pub. It was in my workplace that I soon met the other man of my life. He was a patron who knew how to strike a good conversation, and was sincere as a friend. He would often visit me at my workplace for a drink and fetch me home.
After 2 months, I received a call from home, asking me to return to the village as my father became ill and needed immediate medical attention. Sadly, before I could see him for one last time, he passed away before I could reach the hospital.
Burdened by huge outstanding bills, my family and I were in desperate need of financial support.
Out of desperation, I tried to seek help from my Singaporean friend to borrow some money . He was kind enough to offer assistance and a week later, he came over to the village to look for me.
He offered my family some money and also helped us tie over our finances. I was asked to bring him to my father’s grave to pay his last respect. Out of the blue and in the presence of my late father, he made a vow to me that he would like to take care of me and asked for blessings to take me as his wife. Out of gratitude, I did not turn him down.
Our meetings were often short and brief because of our nationalities. After 2 months of dating, I was pregnant again. I told him about our child and he proposed to me that I should move to Singapore to live with him.
A month later, we got married in Singapore. He had a very simple flat, without much decoration or furniture, but there were plenty of children toys. I asked him what they were for but he wasn’t too keen to explain and asked me not to probe further.
It was only later that I discovered that he was actually married and undergoing legal settlements with his ex-wife, who have left the country.
I did not put up a fight with him for the sake of my child, but I was very upset. I kept asking myself if I had committed the same mistake. I do not want my children to suffer the same way as me.
He was sorry for keeping me in the dark. I know that he loves me a lot and I felt sorry for him for he was going through a bad state because of the divorce. Now, I can only pray that he keep to his promises and take good care of me.
He was a private guy and did not like me to go out or meet friends, friend whom I have known during my time in Singapore. If he were to find out that I was out, he would get upset and starts drinking heavily. It upsets me to see him behaving like this all the time, so I stopped going out.
The domestic violence gets physical
Whenever I asked to apply for a PR status, we would often get into arguments. I don’t understand why and he would come up with many reasons to turn down my request.
He said that he could not trust me because he was afraid that I would turn to other men when I receive my status. He was very possessive, and bad tempered.
One day, I offered to help support the family. I wanted to take up a job at a coffeeshop, but he refused and became upset. He accused me of seeing other men and told me that I could only dream of getting my PR status because if I were to ask again, he would send me back to the village.
He would often ask me to join him for a drinks. When I refused, he would use a knife to threaten me or threatened to cut himself.
I was scared. Whenever he comes home drunk, he would use violence on me. There were a few occasions where he pushed me onto the bed and tried to suppress me.
On another occasion, after we had an argument, he tried to use a knife to hurt himself in front of the children.
I felt I’ve had enough and decided to seek help from social workers. I told them about my situations and was referred to a crisis shelter.
Leaving Domestic Violence
I do not want to see my husband again. I felt like I was just a housekeeper, my feelings were often been neglected. When he doesn’t get his ways, he would use violence on me.
For now, I only wish the best for my children. Because of our status as non-citizens, I have been faced with a lot of issues to request for benefits for my children. I have no money to provide for my children with proper food and education.
It was only through the help from the social workers that I was referred to the crisis shelter. I am grateful that they offered to provide my family with a safe place to stay.
Now, I have started working and am earning a small salary to provide for my family but living in a foreign land, I still feel helpless at times.
Will I be able to carry on providing for my kids? What if one day I were to fall ill? I tried to hurt myself many times but if it was not for my children, I would have given up.
Until I’m able to integrate back to the society, I will always be on my toes, worrying about the well-being of my family.
Disclaimer: Identity and voice have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.