Never Give Up

By Eshwari (not her real name)

In 2001, I went through an arranged marriage in India, and had 2 children by the time we moved to Singapore in 2011. I was not allowed to take a job even though I hold a Bachelor degree in History and Law.

In 2014, my husband brought home a woman whom he said would be our domestic helper. But he stopped having a marital relationship with me, and started to abuse me verbally and emotionally.

The next year I returned to India with my children to live with my in-laws. In the meantime, my husband filed for bankruptcy, and started to transfer his business to my name.  I knew that if there were any legal problems, I would be implicated so I reported the matter to the police. My father-in-law chased me out of the house with his cane and verbally abused me. My in-laws took my children away and forbade me to have any contact with them.

I returned to Singapore to discover that my husband was having an affair with the woman he brought home to be our helper. My husband would belittle me and called me a failure. My home became a living hell; I could not sleep as the TV was kept blaring throughout the night. His mistress harassed me by knocking on my room door and shouting at me. I was so afraid that I would be harmed that I called the police for help. My husband told the police that we were only having a misunderstanding and referred to his mistress as a tenant.

My in-laws who had returned to Singapore in 2019 with my children did not support me, even when I had heated arguments with the mistress. My father-in-law abused me verbally in front of my children.  I was close to a mental breakdown and contemplated suicide. Life became meaningless. Fortunately, a friend encouraged me to break out of my situation.  She brought me to a Family Service Centre which referred me to Good Shepherd Centre (GSC).

Initially it was difficult at GSC. I woke up late and preferred to stay in bed. I could not eat and kept on thinking about my problems.  Staff would wake me up and encouraged me to have breakfast before taking my medication for low blood pressure and gastric problems. After a month I slowly got out of my room and watched TV every afternoon, something I could not do at home.  The counselling sessions were very helpful in encouraging me to stand up for and believe in myself.  I will always remember what Sr Agnes-Claire said during one of the sessions. She said, “Never give up, move on with your life no matter what.” The social worker, Ms Alona affirmed my self-discovery and led me to discover new insights about myself – that I am worth it.

I began to join in programmes like Expressive Art, which helped me to relax, as well as discover new perspectives of my life.  I felt happy at GSC because I had the freedom to be myself, to be part of the community there just like how it was with my own family in India. We ate and prayed together, and prior to Covid-19, did gardening, walked with dogs brought in by volunteers, visited Gardens by the Bay and had BBQ at East Coast, to name a few.

In May 2019 I got a job in a local hospital as a customer service assistant. What told me that I had really become independent was when I could go to the cinema to watch a movie by myself during my day off from work. I found the courage to file for divorce; I am now free from the shackles of an abusive marriage.

I continue to face challenges every day, however now I am more confident, stronger to face whatever comes my way. I have grown out of my dependence on others, learnt to communicate effectively, express myself, explore within myself and discover my inner beauty and strength. I am now on top of the mountain; no longer in the valley. I want to help other women who are in the same situation as me.  I want to show them that there is hope amidst violence and abuse.