When it Hurt; Domestic Violence during the MCO period
Home is a sanctuary, a safe heaven.
Is it though?
Imagine if you spend all the time in the day (and night) with your spouse and realise that he or she is not the person you thought they once were. There is a vicious, manipulative side to your spouse that runs contrary to all the vows and promises made to you once; it almost makes you think that the person you live with is someone barely above a stranger and less than a friend.
The above is the disturbing reality that came at the heels of the imposition of the Movement Control Order (MCO) by the Government. People were instructed to stay at home at all material times to curb and contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus in our country but along with the rise of the pandemic casualties, the rising number of increased number of domestic violence cases were equally alarming. What is more horrific is that these cases are largely unreported.
The Monster in Your Bed
Experts suggest that during the MCO period, it is difficult for the victims to reach out to seek help and to try escape their abusers because they are being monitored by their abusers and to make matters worse, they are forced to be in the same house for the entire period of the MCO which leave the victims vulnerable and susceptible to further attacks.
As it is well known, the abuse may not necessarily be in physical format. Some abuses coherent in other forms are equally damaging, such as mental and emotional abuse. Experts did warn that one of the side effects of staying at home for a prolonged period of time may cause depression to certain people. Coupled with the torment made to the emotional and mental health of the victim further pushes to the victim to the point of almost no return. The victim further suffers anxiety and if the victim is already suffering from depression, the abuse inflicted will exacerbate the suffering and trauma for the victim.
But all hope is not lost.
As perilous as the situation may be, the truth is you are never alone. Despite all the calamity, what you actually require in a moment of peace is to understand your rights and what you can do to reach out.
Speak up and Out
When the dust is cleared and you are left nursing your wounds, these are the words often the abuser would use:
“It won’t happen again”.
“I will not do it again”
“I am sorry’
“I really love you. You mean the world to me”.
Have you heard them before? How many times? One or twenty?
But for how long?
Is it really necessary for you to hear those words? Repeatedly?
Remember, real love will not hurt. Real love nurtures and encourage growth, happiness and stand in support through turbulent times. Real love never hurts. And you will always deserve better. So speak up. Confide in someone you can trust. Look for opportunities for you to leave your house.
If you are reluctant to speak to anyone, you can always contact non-government organisations (such as Womens’ Aid Organisation (WAO)) or the All Action Women Society (AWAM) via their helpline. There are also help centres such One-Stop Crisis Centres (OSCC) where assistance will be provided in the aspect of shelter and protection for the temporary time being.
It is important to realise that by speaking about your abuse will awaken the reality and open the channels for you to get the help you need to move on. Speaking out about your abuse will also help to ease the burden that you carry in your heart and will give you strength to resolve the situation.
Leave if you want to keep on Living
There is no point of continuing to be in a relationship or a marriage that takes the life out of you. You must always remember that the toxicity of such environment is neither beneficial for you nor your children. A marriage founded on abuse, hurt and neglect will only set a terrible path for the children to embark on later. What is even worse is that the young ones may end up believing that abuse is some form of “affection” that is acceptable and will adopt the same approach in their own lives.
Is this what you want?
The opportunity to leave is a door to escape. Pack minimally, choose a safe place to reside temporarily for the time being. You can confide or seek help from trusted persons such as your family members or friends but avoid mutual friends or relatives. When you can leave, don’t look back, just keep moving forward.
Where it is possible you can make a police report to obtain Interim Protection Order (IPO) which works as restraining order against your abuser which will not allow your abuser to approach you. This order will be in place until you obtain the Protection Order (PO) from the Court.
Alternatively, if you feel like you do not wish to exacerbate the matter further, you can always seek to obtain an Emergency Protection Order (EPO). All you need is to bring the identification cards belonging to you and your children to the nearest National Registration Centre (JPN) and seek help accordingly. This EPO, like the IPO functions as temporary protection for you and your children from your abuser.
Know your Rights
By leaving the abuse and your abuser behind does not mean the end of the process. Domestic violence is a very strong ground to file a divorce against your abuser. It is imperative to ensure that the abuser will not have any means, especially legal means to approach, interfere or meddle in your life as well that of your children’s life.
To move on is to completely leave behind and cut all ties with your abuser so that you can remove all the negative element in your life and ensure your children’s future is not affected by the gravity of the abuse or the presence of the abuser.
Wherever possible, keep a journal to record all the incidents of abuse that had happened, i.e. the time, the date and other important details. If at any point you had to seek medical treatment due to the abuse, do a police report, do not throw away the medicine sheet, receipts and other related documents. These are fundamental proof of the abuse that will strengthen your position against your abuser.
Always remember that there is a life beyond the four walls of your home. If your home does not offer the safety and comfort you need in difficult times, perhaps it is not a home anymore.
And remember this for as long as you live, you deserve nothing but love.