Leaving Fear Behind

Laila and her husband Ken were expecting their second child when they opened their house up to Eddie, Ken’s work colleague. Laila and Ken did not have to think twice about welcoming him to their home as they regarded him as their own brother. On the surface, Eddie was the perfect house guest – he contributed to household groceries and was a loving “uncle” to their 3-year-old child.

After three months, Eddie announced that he would be leaving both his job and Laila and Ken’s house. A month after Eddie moved out, he appeared at Laila’s front door while Ken was at work.

Eddie claimed that he was there to retrieve his shoes that he had forgotten to take with him. Even though she knew Eddie, Laila felt uneasy as she did not recall seeing any of his belongings around the house. After telephoning Ken to inform him about Eddie’s arrival, Laila decided to let him in.

The moment Eddie entered the house, his entire demeanour changed. He shoved Laila against the wall and forced her into her bedroom. She struggled to free herself and was worried his actions would harm her pregnancy. Eddie pushed her on the bed and forced himself upon her. She fought him off the best she could and eventually managed to free herself from his clutches. Laila quickly ran out of the house with her child who was sleeping in the living room. She immediately locked the door behind her, trapping Eddie in the house.

Laila quickly rang Ken to tell him what had happened. As Eddie was confined to the house, Ken and Laila went to the nearest police station first to report the incident. They then took the police officers to their house where they arrested Eddie. A police officer asked Ken to bring his wife to the One Stop Crisis Centre at Hospital Seberang Jaya to seek medical attention.

Laila and Ken came to WCC after being referred by both the hospital and the police Investigation Officer (IO). During her counselling session, Laila informed the WCC social worker that she suffered nightmares of the violent incident on an almost nightly basis. Furthermore, Laila blamed herself for what happened and felt unable to trust anyone. She was still extremely shocked that someone she considered a family member would commit such a heinous act.

“I called him a brother and he called me his little sister. Why did he do that to me? I kept shouting ‘brother’ when he pushed and forced me but he never stopped, even when he knew I was pregnant.”

The WCC social worker met Laila twice a month to counsel and help her build coping mechanisms to better deal with her trauma. With her social worker’s help, Laila created a logbook to record her emotional condition when experiencing her nightmares.

When Eddie was charged in court, the WCC social worker sat down with Laila and Ken to explain the court procedures with the use of WCC’s ‘Surviving Court’ videos. This greatly alleviated the couple’s fears and concerns.

The WCC social worker was actively communicating with the IO to obtain case updates. Although Eddie initially pleaded guilty, he then changed his plea and claimed trial, making it necessary for Laila and Ken to testify in court. This impeded Laila’s recovery and worsened her anxiety. In addition to fearing that Eddie and his friends would harm her family, Laila was also worried that her husband would abandon her.

On the day of the court trial, the WCC social worker and advocacy officer accompanied Laila and her husband to court to provide support. Testifying in court was an emotionally taxing experience for Laila. Initially feeling shame, Laila told the social worker that she eventually felt a sense of closure and relief after recounting the traumatic incident in court. Eddie pleaded guilty to molestation and was sentenced to 18m months’ imprisonment.

Laila and Ken thanked everyone who assisted them during this time, including the IO, the hospital staff, and WCC.

“I am glad that the nurse told me to come here (WCC) because I didn’t know what to do. We could not have handled the court process without WCC’s support. The police officer was also very good – she always listened and spoke politely to me whenever I was confused about whatever was going on.”