Most people think that only women are victims of domestic abuse. That is not true. Men can be victims too. I am one of them.
Sarah was my wife of 3 years. We met in a club where she was working as a hostess. I was smitten by her charming smile. We soon hit it off and I was deeply in love with her. Within 6 months of knowing her, I proposed. We got married in June 2005.
Sarah had a sad life story. She was brought up as an orphan and came to Singapore in her early 20s to find work. She had big dreams. When she met me, she said that I could bring her the happiness she was seeking. I felt the same. I wanted to give Sarah everything I ever had in life.
The first year of our marriage was blissful. Sarah quit her job as a hostess. I told her that she need not work anymore as my income was enough to take care of her needs. We bought a decent resale flat and we moved in soon after marriage.
Little did I realise that Sarah was not the person I had imagined. You see, I wanted a child badly. But Sarah was not planning to have one. Secretly, she was taking birth control pills. That was the first indication that she had been lying to me. We quarrelled but I succumbed eventually and told her that having a child can wait.
As we entered the second year of our marriage, Sarah grew more dominating at home. She would shout at me, saying that she should not have married me and that I had not been giving her enough money. I am not sure what I had done wrong. I had given her everything that I could afford. I had even given her a credit card, which she racked up thousands of dollars in debt. Sarah had a taste for luxury goods. But I did not stop her. I wanted her to be happy.
My life soon became a wreck. I would return home from work to her nags and temper. I had to borrow money from friends to pay off her debt. And I tolerated her verbal insults at my supposed uselessness as a husband. And all these while, I had not laid a finger on her nor did I shout at her. I was brought up not to hurt a woman, let alone my own wife. So, I would rather keep quiet and let Sarah hurl her insults and shout at me.
All these were taking a toll on my mental health. I could not concentrate at work. Soon, I fell into depression. I would wander aimlessly after work. To tell you the truth, I was afraid to return home. I was afraid to hear Sarah's screaming voice. But why can't I fight back? I just can't. I was hurting inside. Maybe because I'm a hopeless romantic. Sarah was my first true love. I thought I had done everything I could to make her happy. Am I a bad husband? I kept telling myself I am. If the marriage fails, it must be my fault. These thoughts were tormenting me day and night.
One day, I felt unwell and decided to return home early to rest. As I entered the door of my apartment, I saw Sarah on the living room sofa, hugging another man. I was too shocked to say anything. "What the f***, James! You are not supposed to be home at this hour!" she shouted.
When I finally gathered my strength, I asked her gently, "Who is this man in our house?" The man looked embarrassed. He looked at my wife in a way that made me feel disgusted. Sarah smiled and with sarcasm, replied: "My real man. Not like you, you useless bastard." I understood at that moment that Sarah had been cheating on me. That man was a customer at the bar where she worked previously. Even after our marriage, she had continued her relationship with him.
I could not process my emotions at that moment. Am I supposed to feel angry or sad? Maybe both. I left the house and stayed in a hotel for weeks. I finally mustered the courage to file for divorce. I also saw a therapist for my depression. Sarah and I are separated now. I let her stay in my apartment while I lived with a friend. I intend to sell the house once we get an official divorce.
Meanwhile, I continue to nurse my broken heart. At times, I would wake up in the middle of the night and break into a cold sweat. I was prescribed anti-depressants. It helps to keep my anxiety at bay but it also made me feel dull. It will take a while before I overcome this. But I am determined to get back in life and move on.
This is my story: a man who suffered the consequence of mental abuse by a woman he loved and whom he thought had loved him back. That person is me. And I'm telling you my story to let you know that men too, can be victims of domestic abuse.