Boyfriend hits her, demands she settles his bills

Illustration for home violence.
PHOTO: Barita Harian

He had a long list of rules for his girlfriend, all meant to exert control over her.

Nellie (not her real name), 21, an administrator, had to send him pictures of herself throughout the day and answer his calls within a certain number of rings.

Phillip (not his real name), 28, also installed a programme on her phone to monitor her activities.

He even got physical: throttling, kicking, punching and slapping her.

Adding insult to injury, Philip also made Nellie pay for his bills and settle his debts.

Nellie is a victim of dating abuse and counsellors are concerned as they are seeing more people seeking their help.

Pave (Promoting Alternatives to Violence), a voluntary welfare organisation which provides and develops integrated services against interpersonal violence and aims to promote healthy relationships, helps women like Nellie.

Her friends were so worried about her that they referred her to Pave.

They had many reasons for concern.

In another move to keep tabs on Nellie, Philip made her switch on her laptop as soon as she got home from work.

To further control her, she was not allowed to share her problems with friends and family, and her contact with them was restricted.

ACCUSED

Philip also constantly accused Nellie of cheating on him and used vulgarities on her.

Nellie eventually got tired of his relentless harassing. So to make him stop talking about it, she lied to him that she had been unfaithful.

But this worsened their relationship. Philip started telling her that she deserved the abuse because of her "infidelity".

He also got physical.

During a particularly violent incident, Nellie needed stitches after she hit her head on the edge of a wall when he pushed her in public.

The abuse in their relationship has been going on for two years.

Read also: Nip violence in the bud

Pave said Nellie has sought help. But she said she really loves Philip and wants to stay in the relationship.

The couple are even planning to get married and Nellie is hopeful that things will improve after marriage.

At Pave, Nellie was taught how to keep herself safe.

For instance, she is now able to identify when a situation is escalating and to get out of it.

She also knows her rights and that help is available if she needs it.

Unfortunately, she is not ready to take action to stop the violence.

She is also unable to go for regular counselling because Philip is against the idea.

Executive director of Pave, Dr Sudha Nair, thinks that such severe cases are only the tip of the iceberg.

Dr Nair said: "In cases of spousal abuse, we often hear that the abuse started when they were dating.

"It's not always physical abuse, other forms of abuse could be just as debilitating - sometimes it could be subtle coercive tactics, such as isolating the victim from spending time with their friends and family."

ABUSIVE

Dr Nair urges those in abusive relationships to seek help.

"The abusers are not violent 24/7. They can be loving and caring at times," she said.

"But love and fear are not equal in a relationship. Many of those in abused relationships hope for change but the only way change can materialise is if there was no more fear."

The abusers are not violent 24/7. They can be loving and caring at times too... Many of those in abused relationships hope for change, but the only way change can materialise is if there were no more fear.

linheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 01, 2016.
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