updated 8 Jun 2013, 23:08
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My abuser, my wife
by Zaihan Mohamed Yusof

It was a scene right out of a movie.

His ex-wife lunged at him with a knife in hand, while he was carrying their infant son.

He desperately pleaded with her to stop as she chased him around in his condominium unit, he recalls. The chaos ended only after the police arrived 10 minutes later.

Says Mr Mohamed (we're not using his full name to protect the identity of his child), 40, who works in the hospitality industry: "Luckily, the four slash wounds - one on my left arm and three on my back - were superficial ones. They left no scars."

The baby was unhurt.

While the victims in most abuse cases are women, Mr Mohamed suffered beatings and verbal attacks from his wife for the 13 years they were together.

Theirs was a tumultuous relationship.

He thrice married and divorced the same woman - but that knife attack was the last straw.

He took out a personal protection order against her. He calls it a "drastic but necessary" move to protect his child and maintain his sanity.

Years after the incident, Mr Mohamed says it's still difficult for him to tell anyone that he had been physically and verbally abused.

"There are some things I'd rather not recall."

For instance, she often punched and hit him. Once, she even broke his nose. And it's not as though he is incapable of defending himself.

At 1.7m tall, the broad-shouldered man has the physique of a soldier.

His petite ex-wife stands a full head shorter. A few weeks before the knife incident, Mr Mohamed was "ambushed" by his ex-wife at the airport carpark after he returned from a business trip.

He was with a female friend.

His ex-wife began hurling vulgarities at them. And without any warning, she threw a punch that broke his nose.

He adds: "I bled all over my shirt. I could have done some serious damage to her, but I didn't retaliate.

"At that time, she had no place to stay and we just had our child."

He also lost count of the number of times he was called "womaniser" or "unfaithful".

Mr Mohamed, who first married her in 1998, says: "She made me feel guilty for the slightest infractions like looking at my maid or meeting my friends.

"I was once accused of cheating when I slipped out of my home to go for a short jog."

She would also scold him incessantly and belittle his ability to provide for the family.

As a result, he became withdrawn, avoiding friends and family.

"I distanced myself from friends because I was too tired of explaining to her where I was going each time. I turned into a loner.

"I was ashamed. I couldn't tell anyone what was going on."

In addition, he was trying to save his marriage. Mr Mohamed says he never laid a hand on her, though they did get into arguments on occasion.

Why did he tolerate the unhealthy relationship for so long?

He says: "There's something about her that I find lacking in other women. Maybe I truly loved her. That's why I always went back to her."

Even today, his ex-wife - who leads a separate life but shares custody of their three-yearold son - continues to send him hurtful SMSes.

On Wednesday, Mr Mohamed showed this reporter recent SMSes allegedly from his exwife, whom he last spoke to about a year ago.

She labels him an "unpredictable lunatic" and a "pervert".

Another text message reads: "I'm sorry he (their son) has a father like you".

He says: "I took her abuse. But I should have addressed it in the beginning. Maybe things would have turned out differently."

Related stories:
My rapist, my husband
My wake-up call
Why abuse happens
What would you do if you witness abuse?

Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware): 1800 774-5935
Promoting Alternatives to Violence (Pave): 6555-0390


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