“When my neighbours see me in the morning, they know what happened to me again the night before,” Patty told our WCC Seberang Perai social worker.
She was introduced to Tom who owned an electronics repair shop and she thought this was going to be the end of her difficult life. She had grown up without a mother and her father often fell sick and never could hold a job for long.
Patty herself dropped out of school to work and support her family but she never seemed to get anywhere with her jobs. She would either work as a babysitter or maid.
Tom was positively charming and he owned a small business. He promised that he would take care of her. It wasn’t long before they were married and she finally felt she could free herself of her family burdens.
When her second baby arrived, Tom suddenly changed. He started hanging out with unsavoury characters.
“When I asked him why he had stopped paying for our household items and where his money was going, he would shout, ‘Lu siao ah! (You’re crazy!)’ He would slap me so hard. If I dared ask who he went out with, I would get a black eye or a swollen and bleeding lip. Bruises and his fist to my face were the only answers I got,” Patty said bitterly.
Tom’s aggression increased with time. He would drag Patty out of bed in the middle of the night in a rage, accusing her of being unfaithful (which was rather ironic as he had a mistress!), an unfit wife and mother.
“He called me so many dirty names,” recalled Patty. Tom would rant loudly for so long that the children would wake up. When Patty shouted back, Tom would beat her up. She tried seeking help from her father-in-law, but her pleas to intervene fell on deaf ears.
“In over ten years of marriage, I barely had a night of peaceful sleep,” said Patty. Patty and her three children, aged between three and fourteen, often found “crystal powder” scattered on the floors of the house.
One day after attending a talk on the dangers of drug use at school, her eldest child disclosed, “I think Papa is taking Ice.” Her child began to list the signs of Ice abuse: not sleeping, violent behaviour, paranoia and suspicion.
Patty was scared but without a job and with three children, she couldn’t leave.
One night after a particularly brutal incident, she ran out of the house and went to get help from her friend. She decided to make a police report against Tom.
The police told her that Tom would be remanded.
When her father-in-law found out about the police report, he asked Patty to forgive his son and withdraw the report. She relented and for a few months, things were calmer at home. But once Tom forgot about the police report, he behaved just as violently.
While on drugs, he used to lock his children in a room and threaten to kill them. Once, he tried to set off firecrackers inside a room. Another time, he blocked the bedroom door by nailing it shut, preventing Patty from running out.
“No one did anything, not even my father-in-law!” Patty said. “I would take my children and we would live on the streets because we didn’t dare to go home.”
Her sister kept telling her to go to WCC for help and finally, Patty decided enough was enough. She was living in fear all the time.
“I can’t escape from my husband. He knows everyone I know. Wherever I go he will find me. I don’t have the heart to cause trouble for others,” she confessed during the session.
Her fears were put to rest when our social worker informed her of WCC’s temporary shelter. A week later, after her husband had threatened to kill them by blowing up the gas tank, Patty came to the WCC office with her three children. They were immediately admitted to our shelter.
During their week-long stay, our social worker helped Patty plan her next steps. In Patty’s case, getting the police to take action and getting Interim Protection Orders (IPOs) for herself and her children was important.
Patty’s Investigating Officer (IO)was hesitant as it seemed there was no evidence of recent physical injuries. Our WCC team supported Patty to arrange for a psychological examination to assess the impact of the abuse. Results revealed that Patty suffered emotional and mental trauma at the hands of Tom.
The medical report provided enough impetus for the IO to investigate and grant Patty and her children IPOs. Tom was charged under Section 506 of the Penal Code (Criminal Intimidation) and was fined RM4,000. Patty and her children were granted Protection Orders upon Tom’s charge and conviction.
With the support of family and friends, Patty and her children have now resettled in another state and she is starting over as a single mother.