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Abusive Husbands

The Women’s Charter in Singapore defines family violence as one where the victimised party:

  • Is knowingly put in a position of fear by a family member
  • Was hurt by an act by a family member
  • Was wrongfully confined or restrained by a family member against their will
  • Was continually harassed with intent to cause agony and distress by a family member. This can include verbal abuse, psychological or emotional abuse

Women who are trapped in marriages with an abusive husband can now have recourse under the Women’s Charter. They can seek help from a court of law to get restraining orders against their abusive spouses, such as a Personal Protection Order, Domestic Exclusion Order or an Expedited Order to be granted before a divorce trial. While most of the cases involve incidences of physical abuse, these women also need protection from psychological abuse from the men in their lives.

The Women’s Charter delineates physical abuse as:marital rape, personal protection order

  • Physical acts, including acts like punching, choking, kicking, pushing, slapping, bruising or hitting with an object
  • Denying the victim food, water, shelter, sleep or medicine
  • Forcing unwanted sexual behaviour on the victim

Psychological abuse is defined as:

  • Insulting or humiliating a person
  • Intimidating the victim with threats, harassing them, screaming at them or destroying property
  • Using emotions to manipulate the victim, or emotional blackmail
  • Demeaning someone in front of others or in a public place
  • Monitoring and controlling a person’s activities and relationships
  • Persistent hostility towards the victim, including blatantly ignoring and rejecting them
  • Confining the victim in the home and stopping them from leaving and going elsewhere

Whether they eventually go ahead with legal proceedings like apply for a divorce or not, women facing family violence have several alternatives to seek aid:

  • Reporting to the police
    • Making a police report can be helpful if the wife decides later on to apply for legal protection
    • A police report can be made at any police posts but copies of the report should be kept for future references
    • Should the wife be suffering from emotional or verbal abuse, or from physical abuse that has left no obvious marks, it is then important to have either eyewitnesses to the abuse, or evidences such as texts or mails to prove the harassment
  • Getting medical attention
    • It is vital that a woman who has been physically abused seek medical attention immediately and disclose the true nature of the injury to the doctor. It is important that the victim not try to hide the cause of the injury, which is what most victims tend to, by saying that they had a fall or was involved in an accident. As all medical reports are confidential, they should not fear that their abuser may get a cop of the report
    • Should they wish to apply for protection order against the abusive husband, the victim will thus need to ask the doctor to write a medical report for the court. The medical receipt can also be used as evidence that they had to seek medical attention for the injuries sustained as a result of the abuse
  • Seek counselling
    • Talking to a counsellor can often times provide the emotional support that one needs to overcome the situation
  • Seek shelter in a crisis shelter
    • If the victim has no one they can turn to, a final option could be to seek shelter in a crisis shelter
    • The victim will have to have referrals from the police, family service centre or hospital social workers
    • The maximum duration a victim is able to seek aid at a shelter is 3 months
  • Seek legal protection
    • An abused wife can apply for a protection order against her abusive husband
    • A Personal Protection Order is only applicable where there is a domestic relationship between the victim and the aggressor
    • The Personal Protection Order can be used to order the aggressor to stop acts of violence against the victim, as well as assisting a family member to commit those acts of violence



Click here to read up about Personal Protection Orders