SINGAPORE – “Love,” says Rachel Lim, shaking her head, “is just not violence. Love and violence can’t co-exist.”
It’s recommendation she desires to dispense to each girl who’s in a violent or abusive relationship.
“Get out. Nobody ought to stay with violence,” says the 29-year-old content material strategist.
Her conviction is borne out of expertise – she was concerned with a brutal man who nearly killed her.
In August 2017, when she refused the calls for of her former boyfriend – a physician – for intercourse, he turned so enraged that he smashed her face along with his fists, breaking her nostril, leaving a number of fractures and inflicting her mind to bleed.
The ordeal, which lasted a number of hours, solely ended when the abuser’s father known as the police who arrested his son. Ms Lim’s wounds have been so in depth that she was hospitalised for 3 weeks.
It was not the primary time Clarence Teo Shun Jie had assaulted her. Over the six months that they dated, the then locum battered her on three events, every beating extra vicious than the final.
The case went to trial two years later. Final yr, Teo was sentenced to a few years, six months and two weeks’ jail with 4 strokes of the cane. He was additionally fined $4,000. Two months in the past, he was struck off the Register of Medical Practitioners.
It took some time for Ms Lim to emerge from the shadow of this violent relationship. Nonetheless, she offers along with her previous by going through it squarely, speaking overtly and even writing about it.
“As a result of I do know my story can assist folks,” she says merely.
Slender with energetic eyes and hair dyed a cool shade of aubergine, she is unguarded, articulate and endearingly self-deprecating.
A journalism graduate who’s now pursuing her post-graduate diploma in psychotherapy, she additionally seems well-read and clever, traits which is able to make many surprise why she allowed a person to hit her. However as she’s going to inform you, training and intelligence aren’t talismans towards violence.
And like their victims, abusers can come from all kinds of social, financial and academic backgrounds, she says. Teo was a chief instance.
So are her middle-class dad and mom and elder brother, she provides.
“I am estranged from my household. They have been emotionally, psychologically and bodily abusive as effectively,” says Ms Lim who has lived on her personal since she was 22 and never seen her members of the family for a number of years.
To show that she is just not mendacity, she sends me copies of police studies made towards her civil servant father, and her monetary adviser brother, for acts of violence. She even utilized for a private safety order (PPO) towards her father in 2015.
Though vibrant, the previous scholar of Ai Tong and Anderson Secondary needed to endure caning by her mom if her marks have been lower than good. “After some time, I simply gave up on learning and nearly gave up on life,” says Ms Lim, who began chopping her arms when she was in her teenagers.
A faculty counsellor who seen the self-harm and discovered concerning the home violence needed to name the police. However Ms Lim pleaded along with her to not, for concern that her father would retaliate.
Requested if she harboured ideas of fleeing the household residence, she says: “In fact, however principally, I used to be pondering of dying.”
Issues received higher when she enrolled for a diploma course in movie, sound and video at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2009. “I made a few of my finest mates there, they have been all on the identical frequency,” she says.
To pay her charges and earn pocket cash, she juggled three part-time jobs – barista, waitress and banquet server.
“The course was gruelling however I loved it,” says Ms Lim who went on to get a level in journalism, communication and media research from Murdoch College at a non-public institute.
When she was 22, she lastly moved out after a violent altercation along with her father, one which required the intervention of police.
She rented a small room in Ang Mo Kio and for a few years made a dwelling as a journalist, writing for titles similar to Wine & Dine; the Asian version of BBC GoodFood; and Meals & Journey.
The perks – together with alternatives to journey and dine at high quality eating places – have been good however the pay was not nice, she says.
Stress and accrued angst conspired to push her into melancholy, and she or he tried suicide – not her first time – by chopping her thigh in 2014.
“I believed I may bleed to demise however I clearly didn’t do my analysis,” she says.
Her then boyfriend discovered her and took her to the hospital. “And after we have been there, he broke off with me,” she recollects, laughing on the absurdity of the state of affairs.
Happily, a former neighbour got here alongside to supply some stability not lengthy after. Ms Lim was then making use of for a PPO towards her father, and had contacted the neighbour – a enterprise government – for her testimony. “She knew from the every day screamings that I used to be typically overwhelmed.”
The neighbour then requested Ms Lim to maneuver in along with her.
“So I rented a room along with her. Slowly this stranger neighbour whom I by no means spoke to since younger began to take actually excellent care of me and handled me as her personal daughter. She’s my godma, I name her mum,” she says.
In early 2017, when she had already labored as a copywriter for a few years, she met Teo.
It was prompt attraction, she candidly admits. “I’ve by no means felt such an electrifying reference to anybody. Issues went effectively for some time,” she says.
However there have been additionally purple flags proper from the beginning, she provides. He was tough after they have been intimate, and wouldn’t cease when requested to.
Barely one month into the connection, he punched her face in the future after abruptly grilling her about her previous relationships.
Her tooth reduce the insides of her cheeks, inflicting her to bleed throughout his mattress sheets.
“I used to be shocked past phrases. I believed possibly he had psychological well being points and that he did not know what he was doing,” she says. “I believed if he have been prepared to enter remedy, there may very well be an opportunity for us.”
She couldn’t reconcile how a person who made her so blissful may additionally beat her up so badly and was reluctant to go away him. “When issues have been good, they have been so good I simply felt I used to be in heaven.”
She now realises these have been superficial moments of pleasure, not actual happiness.
Earlier than the horrific assault which led to Teo’s arrest, there was additionally one other incident the place he waylaid her when she was on her method to work, pushed her into his automobile, took her residence and abused her for greater than 10 hours.
This second beating led to a different suicide try. Ms Lim checked herself right into a resort and swallowed dozens of tablets. Sensing one thing was not proper when she didn’t return residence, her godma known as quite a few hospitals and motels earlier than she discovered Ms Lim.
The resort needed to break the door of her room down as a result of it was double-locked from inside.
Due to the incident, Teo agreed to see a therapist and all was good for some time. After which that third and last assault occurred.
On the hospital, medical doctors needed to repair, amongst different issues, her nostril, her eye sockets and her little finger which broke whereas keeping off his blows. “I had mind haemorrhage and if it did not go away, I may have died,” she recollects.
Despite the fact that they knew what had occurred to her, her dad and mom and brother didn’t get in contact.
When the trial began and made newspaper headlines, her mom despatched her messages. “Amongst different issues, she insinuated I used to be not an excellent youngster and that I used to be additionally in charge for what occurred to me. I didn’t reply.”
Shortly after being discharged, she began receiving calls from Dr Sudha Nair, the founding father of Pave (Centre for Selling Alternate options to Violence), a household violence specialist centre.
The Grownup Protecting Providers, a scheme by the Ministry for Social And Household Growth to guard weak adults from abuse, neglect or self-neglect, had alerted Dr Nair, 61, about Ms Lim.
She says: “From what I understood of the state of affairs, the violence was very extreme and she or he wanted lots of help and assist. I used to be beginning a girls’s group-work programme for survivors and I needed her to know that she did not must undergo this alone.”
Ms Lim, nevertheless, was reluctant and it took quite a few calls earlier than she agreed to go. “I believed I might go for the second session simply to do away with Sudha,” she says with a smile.
She ended up going for the remaining eight periods, sharing her experiences with a bunch of high-functioning and achieved violence victims, together with a physician and a lawyer.
“All the ladies thought what they went by means of was distinctive, however it’s not distinctive in any respect.”
Dr Nair says what stops victims of violence from coming ahead is disgrace. “I instructed Rachel: ‘You have received nothing to be ashamed of, you did not perpetrate the violence. The attacker ought to be ashamed.”
The periods, she says, have been good for Ms Lim and the opposite members.
“As a result of they have been impartial girls, they thought ‘Why me?’ However ‘Why not you? What makes you totally different?’ You must get them to see it isn’t about their social financial standing or training however their beliefs about what is suitable,” says Dr Nair.
Now working as a content material strategist with The Faculty Of Optimistic Psychology, Ms Lim says the periods helped her tremendously. Writing about her experiences, meditating and studying philosophy additionally helped to heal her, as did an excellent pal who abruptly held her hand in the future after they have been on an outing.
Ms Lim has been in a loving and respectful relationship with the design engineer – who’s additionally a musician – for the previous two years.
There was additionally a non secular awakening which made her realise how valuable life is. The expertise led her to alter her title; she is now Saraswati Rachel.
She is just not ashamed of what she went by means of.
“How may I ever be ashamed of myself now, once I’ve learnt to find and settle for myself for who I’m?,” says Ms Lim, who hopes to pursue a Masters subsequent, maybe in psychotherapy, counselling or artwork remedy.
To girls caught in violent relationships, she says: “You might not imagine it now however there are literally guys you’ll be able to really like much more, guys who do not hit you or violate you in any method.”
As for Teo, she says: “I do know he can by no means expertise peace, pleasure, gratitude and contentment the way in which we do. And that is sufficient punishment for a human. He created his personal hell and he is dwelling it. That is unhappy.”
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