My husband cheats on me and beats me

Dear Thelma,

I have been married for the past eight years. I caught my hubby having an affair after two months of marriage. He blamed me for it and said that I did not take good care of him. My in-laws said I was overreacting.

He gets abusive whenever I mention his mistress. My in-laws said I should be grateful that he is providing for me, as I am an orphan. Although I have a good education and am doing well in my career, I am losing my identity and I feel ashamed to be treated in this manner.

When I conceived my daughter, I thought things would get better. On the day I found out that I was pregnant, I received a call from his mistress and she confessed that they have been having an affair even before I married my husband. She claimed that my hubby was not happy with our arranged marriage. But he was the one who asked for my hand in marriage.

My husband called me a monster and when I tried to walk away, he hit me. Even though I was pregnant then, that did not stop him from beating me up. I resigned from my job after delivering my baby because I did not want people to see the bruises on my face when I got beaten up.

When my daughter turned three, I went back to work because I wanted to build a new life for my girl and I.

Recently, family members of his mistress came to the house and beat him up because he had dumped her for another woman. I was shocked to learn that the mistress is his brother’s wife’s sister. His family members went to his defence, saying he was forced to continue the relationship with the girl.

After the incident, my in-laws persuaded me to stay on for my daughter’s sake. They said he would change and be more loving towards me.

My husband has been having numerous affairs. He brings women to the house when I am away at work. He has no respect for me. Now he hardly talks to me, and only comes home early in the morning. I have to go out and work, cook and clean, and take care of my girl.

I have been suffering in silence for the past eight years. I have tried everything I could to save my marriage. Do I hang on and expect a miracle to happen?

I want to move to another place as I am afraid of my hubby but I have a good chance of being promoted at my current workplace.

I don’t know how to make a clean start. My husband knows I love him and he is using this to stop me from leaving. He says my daughter would become an orphan like me should I leave the house.

I am on the verge of giving up. I feel so tired, lost and lonely. What should I do? – Trapped

Dear Trapped,

You have to recognise the situation you are in and call it what it is: domestic violence. Your husband beats you. On top of that, he abuses you psychologically and emotionally. He manipulates you into remaining in this marriage which serves no one but him.

He is able to use your fears against you. He tells you that your child will become an orphan should you leave him. An orphan is someone whose parents have passed away. If you leave your husband, your child will still have both her parents. They won’t be together, but she will still have them. She will not be an orphan.

Your husband and his family use your orphan status to make you feel like they have done you a favour. Your husband did you a favour by marrying you, and his family by taking you in. In actual fact, you seem to have done them all a favour by trying to build a life with this man. You have given them a daughter and a grandchild.

Your husband has admitted that he never wanted to marry you. He married you out of compulsion – maybe his parents forced him to or he thought it was what he had to do. He sees the marriage as a licence to do whatever he wants. He continues to see other women.

If that was not enough, his behaviours with other women are also affecting you. The fact that someone can come to your home and perpetrate violence against your husband must also highlight to you how unsafe the conditions are for you. What if they had turned against you or hurt your child?

Of course, his parents will blame others. They don’t want to admit that their son is wrong. Neither do they want to admit that their son isn’t that great a person. They are in denial.

You don’t have to be. You do not deserve to be treated like this. You don’t deserve to be in a relationship where you are disrespected and are treated badly.

You are a successful woman. You do well in your career and are on your way up. You can provide a good life for yourself and your daughter. It may be a little harder than the norm, but at least you will be safe and will not be treated badly. You will be able to show your daughter what real strength women have. Show her that she does not have to be a victim. Show her that she deserves respect and should not put up with anything less.

What you need to understand is that you can love your husband. Just because you leave him, it doesn’t mean that you have stopped loving him. Even after you have left him, you can continue to love him. It will just be a different kind of love. Loving someone does not mean suffering. When you love someone, it should liberate you. It should make you happy. That is not the case for you now, is it?

It is possible for you to leave this situation. You just have to be ready to do it. To help you prepare for it, you will need to speak to some people to get advice on what to do and how to do it. There are many women’s rights NGOs that can help you with that. You can contact the Women’s Aid Organisation or the All Women’s Action Society in the Klang Valley, and the Women’s Centre for Change in Penang.

Take all the time you need to think about it. You should only do this when you are truly ready. Think about yourself and, more importantly, your daughter. Think about the kind of life you want to build for the two of you.

You are expecting a miracle to happen. It probably won’t be the kind of miracle you are hoping for. Your husband is not going to change. The real miracle will happen when you put your safety first, along with your daughter’s. That is the real change that you need. And, that you can do. – Thelma