She was so afraid of her abusive boyfriend that she risked her life to hide from him.
But her decision to climb out the kitchen window of her fourth-storey flat and stand on a ledge nearly cost her everything.
While trying to lower herself to her third-floor neighbour's parapet, Madam Zahirah Mohamed Sultan, 40, slipped and fell to the ground.
Fortunately, she survived, with fractures to her left arm and leg.
Yesterday, her boyfriend, 34-year-old Muhammad Shaiful Hassan, was jailed for 20 months and two weeks after he was convicted of two drug-related charges, one count of housebreaking at night, one count of committing a rash act and an offence under the Bankruptcy Act - failure to submit to the official assignee a statement of affairs.
A third drug-related charge and one count of causing distress to his girlfriend were taken into consideration.
The divorcee, who is also a mother to five- and eight-year-old boys, told The New Paper that her ex-husband - her children's father - is now behind bars for drug-related offences.
Speaking in Malay from her two-room rented flat at Block 182, Rivervale Crescent, in Sengkang yesterday, Madam Zahirah, who is unemployed, said her younger sister introduced her to Shaiful about two years ago. She and the trailer driver soon became an item.
Madam Zahirah said: "I was attracted to his caring ways. He was caring and responsible, unlike my ex-husband. He got along with my boys and they adored him.
"But I found out that he was very possessive and got jealous easily."
Declining to reveal any details, she claimed that Shaiful had beaten her up in the past.
Neighbours TNP spoke to said that they used to hear the couple quarrelling almost every day.
The court heard yesterday that the couple had some disputes over money. Shaiful also suspected Madam Zahirah of seeing another man.
At around midnight on March 7, Shaiful drove his prime mover to Madam Zahirah's block, picked up a metal rod and marched up to her flat to look for her.
She and her two boys were about to go to bed when he started banging on the front door. Out of fear, she decided not to let him in. Panicking, she climbed out of her kitchen window to hide from him.
When TNP asked her several times why she did that and whether she worried for her safety, she replied: "I don't know. I was afraid of him at that time."
When no one opened the door, a furious Shaiful used the metal rod to smash a window that was facing the common corridor and climbed into the flat.
Madam Zahirah said: "When my boys saw him coming in, they opened the front door and ran out. I don't think he would hurt the kids anyway."
Shaiful searched the flat for her but to no avail. Still fuming with anger, he picked up a tricycle that he spotted and tossed it out the window. He thought Madam Zahirah had bought it with money he had given her for other purposes.
The tricycle landed on the ground and did not hit anyone on the way down.
Shaiful later spotted his girlfriend standing outside the window and tried to reach out to her.
Fearful, Madam Zahirah tried to climb down to a third-floor ledge but she slipped and fell.
Shaiful then rushed downstairs.
But instead of helping Madam Zahirah, he scolded her before loading the tricycle onto his prime mover and driving away.
The police arrested him later that day in a room at Kim Tian Star Hotel at Lorong 6 Geylang.
He was found to have in his possession a packet of white substance which was later found to contain methamphetamine. His urine sample was also found to contain the drug.
Madam Zahirah said that shortly after she fell, a neighbour called for an ambulance. She was taken to Changi General Hospital (CGH). She added: "I didn't feel anything at first and felt pain only when I reached CGH.
"I was warded for about a month and still feel some pain occasionally.
"I don't know how much my medical bills were. A family service centre is helping me with them."
She also said that she is receiving $450 monthly from a Community Development Council and her siblings are helping her through these difficult times.
She said: "I'm still with Shaiful and I've already forgiven him. I still believe that he's a good man."
For housebreaking at night, Shaiful could have been jailed up to three years and fined. For each drug-related offence, he could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined up to $20,000.
Fear might stop victims from leaving abusers
Six in 10 victims of violence in Singapore suffer repeated abuse, according to local advocacy group We Can! which campaigns for ending violence against women.
In abusive relationships, codependency might occur, where the victim feels emotionally responsible for the abuser, said Mr Simon Neo of The Psychotherapy Clinic.
"The victim might feel pity for the abuser or have grandeur thoughts of wanting to change them," he said, adding that both parties might think they are at fault sometimes.
"They could think that it's just the way they communicate as a couple."
Fear could be another reason, said Ms Jolene Tan, women's rights group Aware's senior manager of programmes and communications.
"The victims might fear that if they leave, the abuser will harm them, himself or loved ones.
"Abusers also try to isolate victims from others, so that they do not have other sources of support."
Both experts stressed that family and friends should not be critical of a victim's decision to stay.
"Rather than questioning an abuse victim's choices, we should provide a non-judgmental listening ear, help them to explore their options and provide support," said Ms Tan.
Mr Neo said that "well-meaning advice" and pressure from loved ones to leave the abuser might sometimes have the opposite effect.
"The couple might feel the need to stay together, through thick and thin, because of the pressure. Some victims might not even see themselves as victims," he added.
1800 774 5935
Sexual Assault Care Centre
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1800 3535 800 (Mandarin)
This article was first published on October 20, 2015.
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