"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.
I have been with my current girlfriend for a year now. We are happy together most of the time.
She does not work as she's a foreign national. So, I try to make ends meet with what meagre salary I bring back.
Our problem is that both of us have bad tempers.
The bad news is that she gets angry very easily and when she does, she gets physical.
It all started off with her just pinching me, but it has progressed to punching and kicking now. I often get bruises all over my body because of this.
I have thought of breaking it off with her, but I cannot afford to pay for her transport back to her country as I'm barely able to make ends meet month to month.
She has even overstayed her visa but I don't want to get her into trouble by getting her deported. What can I do?
It is only human to feel anger and become angry. And this, naturally, may lead one to express the anger.
The problem is when people use their anger as an excuse to behave badly or to hurt other people.
Anger does not justify hitting another person. Hitting someone is a violation. It also constitutes abuse.
Maybe your girlfriend becomes physically abusive because she does not know how to adequately and safely express her anger. Perhaps it was her upbringing that did not provide her those kinds of skills. Education systems around the world generally do not teach children how to put words to their emotions and then properly express them.
Still, none of these justifies her actions in hurting you. Surely she must know that she hurts you when she does that. You must express that you are hurt. She can see the bruises. Instead, she continues to do this. Perhaps, the first couple of times could be excused. But, it has now gone too far to simply accept that she has an anger issue.
You have a few options ahead of you. You could encourage her to learn how to manage her emotions. The best way for her to do this will be to engage in a process of counselling. There are many mental health professionals who offer anger management sessions.
However, it seems you have already considered ending the relationship. The bind that you find yourself in now is more about how to end the relationship safely, rather than how to save it. You want to be able to ensure she gets back to her home country safely and you cannot afford to send her.
At this point, you should first consult a lawyer who has experience dealing with immigration issues. Otherwise, speak with an officer from the Immigration Department. That will give you an idea of what the process of repatriating her would entail. This would include matters like cost.
The other thing you can do is to speak with someone from the consulate of the country your girlfriend is from. Sometimes, consulates have mechanisms to ensure their citizens who are leaving relationships in foreign countries get to return home safely. They may not be able to help financially, but would at least be able to provide advice on necessary processes and paper work.
There is no avoiding your financial responsibility in this, though. Since you do not want to leave her high and dry, you are going to have to find a way to meet the financial demands of sending her back home. She is financially dependent on you. Any savings she may have she will need when she gets home and needs to start her life anew.
Ending relationships is not easy. It is more complicated when there are financial demands even after the end of that relationship.
Most times, it is best to grit your teeth and just meet those demands. Pool and tap all your resources. It is the best thing you can do at this point.