He flung me from the 7th floor when I was pregnant

He flung me from the 7th floor when I was pregnant

You wouldn't stand for it if your man hits you. So why are more women putting up with hurtful words like these? 

Jeanne Tai finds out how we could be ignoring the invisible scars of emotional abuse - at our peril.  

*Names have been changed.

There are no slaps and kicks - but it's a relationship that hurts like hell. Your man explodes over petty issues, and lets fly with insults and vulgarities.

One phone call from him turns your girls' night out into a testy affair - you have to report your whereabouts and he gets furious when you say you can't meet him.

A prisoner of love? Perhaps - but there's no hint of affection. Instead, you're bound by invisible chains of fear.

These are all signs of emotional abuse, a problem that's on the rise.

Last year, the Association of Women for Research and Education (Aware) received 98 calls from women seeking help for it, up from 64 in 2012.

These cases made up around 20 per cent of Aware's abuse and violence cases in 2013.

"We got 148 calls from women suffering from physical abuse... but I can tell you that almost all of these involved some element of emotional violence too," says

Sheena Kanwar, manager of Aware's support services. "Physical violence is often the tip of the iceberg. It's often supported by a mass of emotional abuse."

Silent problem

The awful truth is no one knows how many more women are quietly suffering. Experts agree that emotional abuse tends to be under-reported.

"I've met many wives who think, 'It's just a scolding; at least he didn't hit me,'" says Seah Kheng Yeow, head of family development and community relations at Pave, a family violence specialist centre.

A 2012 survey by Aware found that while 84 per cent of Singaporeans can identify physical abuse, only 59 per cent can recognise the signs of emotional abuse.

For this story, we spoke to four women who have suffered from emotional abuse. All initially kept silent about what they were going through, thinking it was "their fault" for angering their partners.

Most believed (wrongly) that their boyfriends or husbands would change.

When asked why she never told anyone about her ex-fiance's abusive nature, Ashley*, 29, an entrepreneur, says: "I was ashamed. I didn't want to seek help from an organisation. I was young and felt I shouldn't have to go through this."

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