I finally found the courage to leave him. But it was not an easy decision. I struggled with my own self-worth. I had doubts about myself. Am I to be blamed? Am I not good enough for him? Did I make a terrible a terrible mum to his children?
I gave birth to Terra two years into the marriage. We were excited about our first child in the family. James – my ex-husband – dotted on her. We were happy as a family. When Tera turned two, James and I decided that it was time to have our second child. I conceived soon after. Little Sandra came into the family and added another joy.
But the bliss we had as a family did not last.
James became distant. After our second child, I decided to quit my job. I was working as a finance officer in a successful multinational company. I gave that up in order to raise our two children. Besides, James was earning enough to support the family. We lived a comfortable life and had moved in to a new home when Terra turned 6. I had wanted her to enrol in an elite school. I had high hopes for Terra and Sandra. It so happened that James, who was working in the real estate sector, found a good deal for a private apartment in district 9. Things were going well for us as a family.
I had always thought that the nature of James’ work required him to work long hours. He had to meet clients and sometimes, entertain them in order to close a deal. As a wife, I let him focused on his career while I took care of our daughters and ensure that his meals were cooked, clothes washed and ironed, and the house cleaned and tidied. I was a typical housewife – traditional, in every bit. My own mother raised me as one. “A wife’s job,” she told me on the day I married James, “is to make her husband happy.”
Mum is gone now. But how I wished she was alive to hear my story.
James became a different person after Sandra was born. He would come home late at night, often slightly drunk and too tired to hold a conversation with me. I tried making small conversations, telling him about Terra’s performance in school, or how Sandra had learnt to crawl; but James would just nod, smile and bury his attention in his text messages on the handphone. I grew exasperated. I would shout at him to get his attention.
“What’s going on, James? Who am I to you? Am I not attractive to you anymore? Why are you not talking to me? ARE YOU HAVING AN AFFAIR?!”
And then he slapped me. Yes, for the first time, he hit me. It must be true, I thought. I must have hit his nerves. Oh God, how I the hurt inside me was more than the hand that swung across the room and caused a bruise on my cheeks!
Ever since that incident, I would grow bolder. “HIT ME AGAIN, I DARE YOU!” And he would. As I grew more defiant, he became more violent. Eventually, I could no longer suffer the humiliation and beatings; especially since my daughters were traumatised every time we quarrelled. I left our home and brought Terra and Sandra along. James would call me on my handphone, begging me to return. “Please give me another chance. I want us to be together as a family again. Please.”
At times, I did consider returning home. I was living in a small rental apartment and got a job as an executive in a small local firm. I had Aunt Jenny, the only family member I have in Singapore after mum passed away, to help take care of Terra and Sandra. Soon after, I found out – through Aunt Jenny – that James was indeed having an affair with one of his colleagues. That was when I thought to myself, “I cannot continue to be with James anymore. No. I don’t need him anymore. I deserve my own happiness.”
I am now a divorcee with two young children. And I am so much happier than before. I hope that other women in the same situation as me would find the same courage to leave an abusive relationship. You deserve happiness too!