I want out of this abu­sive re­la­tion­ship

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Opinion -

I AM work­ing as an en­gi­neer in a con­struc­tion site. I met X seven months ago, and was in a re­la­tion­ship with him for five months.

It was a very un­healthy re­la­tion­ship. X did not show his true colours in the be­gin­ning. He was very charming ini­tially.

Once he won my heart, he be­gan to ex­ert in­creas­ing con­trol over me. He did not want me to talk to the guys in my con­struc­tion site. He stopped me from go­ing out with friends. He hated my child­hood friends be­cause I am close to them.

He did not al­low me to pursue a Masters de­gree when I ex­pressed in­ter­est in do­ing so.

He tried to con­trol the type of clothes I wore. He stopped me from go­ing to the gym. I was stupid to give in to all his de­mands be­cause I loved him.

He abused me ver­bally and hit me in front of the con­struc­tion work­ers. I was so badly hit on one oc­ca­sion that I had to go to the hos­pi­tal for stitches.

My fam­ily did not know about the abuse that I was sub­jected to. I hid it from them.

The last straw came when he hit my face and it was badly swollen. Af­ter that, I de­cided to break up with him. When I told him I was leav­ing him, he be­came ag­gres­sive and em­bar­rassed me in front of the work­ers.

When I could not take it any­more, I told my sib­lings about it. They dragged me to the po­lice sta­tion to make a po­lice re­port.

When X came to know of this, he spiked my drink while I was at work. Un­til to­day, I can­not re­mem­ber what hap­pened af­ter I took the spiked drink. My col­leagues thought I was on drugs be­cause I was slumped on my ta­ble in a most un­lady-like man­ner.

X pres­sured me to sleep with him. He said he would only let me go if I slept with him. I re­luc­tantly agreed. He brought me to a ho­tel. I teared up and couldn’t bring my­self to do it. He tried to force him­self on me, and I fought him off. I ran to my car and sped off. I felt so ashamed of my­self. I was dis­gusted with my­self too.

X cut his wrist in the of­fice, and told his col­leagues that I had cheated on him.

There was so much gos­sip be­hind my back in the of­fice. I am the only girl in the con­struc­tion site, and I felt so em­bar­rassed.

X tried to black­mail me. He said he would com­mit sui­cide if I left him. He said if he died, it was all my fault.

I am so de­pressed now. I am not sure what to do any­more. I don’t feel any more love for X. I don’t want to be with him. How do I get out of this sit­u­a­tion? Please help me. Tricked and trapped FIRSTLY, you have noth­ing to be ashamed of. None of this is any of your fault. You have noth­ing to be blamed for.

This man’s be­hav­iour is that of a typ­i­cal abuser. Abusers are very nice to start with, and they are ex­tremely charming. Noth­ing you did or did not do made him be­come like this. He was al­ready like this, and is very likely to re­main like this un­less he re­alises he needs to change.

Many cases of abuse be­gin ex­actly like yours. The male part­ner starts to con­trol the move­ments of the fe­male part­ner. It doesn’t seem harm­ful be­cause the con­trol­ling be­hav­iour is couched in ro­man­tic over­tones.

The fe­male thinks that it is be­cause the male part­ner loves her so much that he wants her to stop speak­ing to oth­ers. It is ac­tu­ally part of a sys­tem­atic way of con­trol­ling the fe­male part­ner. First, it is who she should and should not speak with. Then, it is where she is al­lowed to go, what she can wear, what she should eat.

Even­tu­ally, the abuser be­gins to cut her off from ev­ery­one she knows – re­gard­less of gen­der. Even fam­ily mem­bers are not spared.

He wants to mould you into some­thing that he can have ab­so­lute con­trol over. He lim­its your po­ten­tial by not al­low­ing you to pursue your Masters de­gree be­cause he wants to make sure you are not bet­ter than him. Be­sides, he does not want you to meet other men.

You see, all this has lit­tle to do with you. It has all to do with him and his ego. It is his way of ex­ert­ing power and con­trol over you.

Even now, when you want to leave him, he is try­ing to con­trol you. His threats of sui­cide are just that – threats. He knows that if he makes you feel guilty and re­spon­si­ble, you will do any­thing for him. Forc­ing you to have sex­ual re­la­tions with him is also that. His in­ten­tion was to rape you to shame you. He would have used that in­ci­dent to con­trol youand­makey­oucom­ply­with­his­de­mands.

The best thing that you did was to fight him and flee. You must re­mem­ber that you have been fight­ing. You are not a vic­tim.

It is sur­pris­ing that he hit you in front of oth­ers and no one stepped in to stop him. They will not even ac­cept his be­hav­iour as abu­sive. Hence, it is not sur­pris­ing that your col­leagues are blam­ing you. They are a part of the abuse. When some­one does not stand up to vi­o­lence, they are com­plicit in it. They are also guilty of per­pet­u­at­ing vi­o­lence.

It is also shock­ing that the doc­tor who stitched you up, did not ask you what hap­pened and made a re­fer­ral for you to get help. Doc­tors play a very im­por­tant part in things like this and it is a sad sit­u­a­tion when they de­cide that mat­ters like th­ese are “per­sonal”. Doc­tors can help. They have a duty to do so. They just have to learn the right ques­tions to ask, and to find out what can be done in sit­u­a­tions of abuse like this.

Do not ex­pect your em­ployer and col­leagues to change the way they be­have. It is likely that X has also worked his charm on them. Men like him are re­ally good at mak­ing them­selves look like the vic­tim. His be­hav­iour in the work­place is also a way to shame you into ac­cept­ing his con­trol.

He will not stop or change. Your col­leagues are not go­ing to change, ei­ther. You have no choice but to leave this sit­u­a­tion im­me­di­ately. Your best sup­port at this point are your fam­ily mem­bers. They be­lieve you. They are on your side. They will help you. You do not have to be ashamed of telling them the truth and ask­ing them for help.

An­other source of help will be the women’s rights or­gan­i­sa­tions. You may need shel­ter – to tem­po­rar­ily be in a place that this man does not know. The women’s or­gan­i­sa­tions can help you with that. They can also help with any le­gal pro­cesses.

You can lodge po­lice re­ports about the vi­o­lence that X had in­flicted on you. You can also charge him with at­tempted rape. What hap­pened that day was ex­actly that – you did not con­sent out of free will. You were forced to. Re­mem­ber that. This is not your fault.

Men like him do not give up eas­ily. Be­cause abuse is about power and con­trol, many abusers con­tinue their abu­sive be­hav­iours even af­ter the re­la­tion­ship has ended. Coun­selling from the women’s groups can help you de­velop cop­ing strate­gies so that you can look af­ter your­self. As for work, you may have to find a new em­ployer. Firstly, you do not want to work in a place that is help­ing to pro­tect an abuser. Se­condly, the work­place is not safe for you any­more.

This may not be a bad thing. It may be the per­fect op­por­tu­nity for you to pursue fur­ther stud­ies. Even if doors close, there are win­dows that are open.

You are a brave, young wo­man. You can find the courage and en­ergy to fight this. You can do this. You just need to be­lieve in your­self and not be ashamed. You also have to see his be­hav­iour for what it is – abu­sive and con­trol­ling. You do not need that in your life. You do not need him. You are in­tel­li­gent and ca­pa­ble. He is afraid of that. Re­mem­ber that.

Make the first move by call­ing a women’s helpline. You can con­tact Women’s Aid Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WAO) at 03-7956 3488 or the All Women’s Ac­tion So­ci­ety (AWAM) at 03-7877 0224.

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