Dear Thelma: My abusive boyfriend threatens to make my life hell if I leave

Dear Thelma: My abusive boyfriend threatens to make my life hell if I leave
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

Dear Thelma

I am 38 years old and I am in an abusive relationship.

I met my boyfriend via a mutual friend, we got along well and became involved in a romantic relationship after a few months.

That is when all hell broke loose. He became very controlling.

I am not allowed to wear certain types of clothes (tight jeans, non-collared dresses or skirts), jewellery or makeup. I was forced to close all my social media accounts.

He also wants me to send him pictures of where I am every hour. I am not allowed to go for meetings at work or work-related training and conferences. I thought that things would change after I gained his trust, but they only got worse after he started checking my mobile phone and e-mails.

Even when I go back to my hometown to visit my family, I have to update him on my whereabouts and the activities that I am doing. He has not only isolated me from friends and colleagues, he is also making me lose my identity.

It doesn't end there - he has started abusing me physically and has hit me on several occasions.

After the last round of beatings, I decided to walk out of the relationship. But he has threatened me, telling me that he will ensure that my life is miserable. He assaults me verbally and says he will throw acid on me.

He just refuses to hear that the relationship will not move forward.

I am mentally and emotionally tired. Please tell me how to end this relationship without any harm. - Abused and lost

Dear Abused and lost

What a terrifying experience for you! My dear, you have to leave immediately. You've already been beaten up, and if you stay, he may kill you.

From your letter, you've only been seeing this man for a few months and your family live out of town. So I'm assuming you are not estranged from them.

Go home to your family right away, and tell them what happened. Make sure that they understand he's dangerous.

Look, nice people tend to underestimate how dangerous these situations are. Good kind gentle people often think that reasonable conversation can fix things. From your description, this is highly unlikely. This man barely knows you and he's shown himself to be controlling, abusive and violent.

I am very worried about you and I urge you to take the greatest possible care. On no account let yourself be talked into seeing this man. He's dangerous and he's made credible threats about throwing acid at you. Stay away from him.

The second you're home, call for legal advice. This behaviour needs to be reported, so that you can be protected.

My first move would be to call the Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) at 03-7956 3488 or All Womens Action Malaysia (Awam) at 03-7877 0224. They will help you with legal information and explain what you have to do.

Then hire a lawyer who is familiar with violence against women and domestic violence cases. If you don't have money to hire one, you can ask Awam and WAO to help you or to point you in the direction of the proper agencies.

Although they will give you advice for your particular case, generally speaking, you will start with making a police report. This will detail exactly what happened and when.

Do this with the help of your lawyer. Be honest, truthful and up front. I'm saying this because when love turns sour, many of us feel ashamed. At this point, you have to remind yourself that you are a victim; you don't deserve this kind of treatment, so there's nothing to be shy about or ashamed of.

When it comes to police reports, the more evidence you have, the easier it is to get help from them and related authorities. I therefore hope that you reported the beatings, kept a record of your medical treatments and have all the telephone records of threatening texts and messages.

However, if you did not, then you can still take steps to protect yourself.

On no account let yourself be talked into seeing this man. He's dangerous and he's made credible threats about throwing acid at you. Stay away from him.

In cases of domestic violence, Protection Orders are available for married people. These help to keep violent people away from their victims. As you are thankfully not married to this man, ask your lawyer about restraining orders.

Also, make sure you know exactly what to do if that man contacts you again. Go over everything carefully and have concrete emergency responses for if he calls you, texts you, or (God forbid) turns up on your doorstep. A course in self-defence might be a good idea as well.

Finally, I urge you very strongly to go for personal counselling. Although you are now walking away, I'm concerned that you let this man control the way you dress, who you talk to, and then you put up with him hitting you not just once but on several occasions.

You need to figure out how you got into such a bad place and how you can prevent this from ever happening again.

I'll be thinking of you and hope to hear good news from you soon. Good luck!

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