Women, it's time to walk away!

A woman must prioritise her safety and well-being, recognising that she deserves to live without abuse, manipulation or deceit.

13 Mar 2024 08:22pm
Photo for illustrative purposes only - 123RF
Photo for illustrative purposes only - 123RF

SHAH ALAM – Many women dream of a happy married life with a loving husband, children, and a joyful marriage.

Together, spouses can overcome household challenges with understanding and teamwork.

However, reality often disappoints as true, supportive partners seem scarce, leaving many women vulnerable to abuse and betrayal.

This unfortunate reality affects countless couples, where husbands fail to uphold their vows and mistreat their wives, damaging the sanctity of marriage.

In such situations, a woman must prioritise her safety and well-being, recognising that she deserves to live without abuse, manipulation or deceit.

All Women's Action Society (Awam) Programme Manager Lilian Kok said the predicament of women in abusive or manipulative relationships was truly heart-wrenching as the emotional and psychological burden of being deceived and manipulated by a spouse could be overwhelming.

She said women who found themselves caught between seeking justice for themselves and safeguarding their children was such a deeply agonising dilemma.

However, she added that extricating oneself from such situations was not simple and typically entails overcoming numerous challenges.

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“In addition, the plight of foreign wives in Malaysia who find themselves in manipulative or abusive relationships adds another layer of complexity to an already challenging situation.

“These women often face additional barriers due to their immigrant status, language barriers, and lack of familiarity with local laws and resources,” she said when contacted recently.

She added that leaving from such a relationship might necessitate meticulous planning, seeking support from trusted friends or family members and accessing resources provided by organisations specialising in domestic violence and family law.

Kok highlighted various avenues women could explore for help and support when contemplating leaving a manipulative or abusive relationship.

She suggested reaching out to friends and family, as trusted individuals could offer emotional support and assistance in decision-making about leaving the relationship.

Additionally, she urged women in the community to contact domestic violence hotlines and shelters, such as Awam, which provides resources like counselling and legal information for women and their children fleeing abusive situations.

In terms of legal professionals, Kok further said consulting with a lawyer specialising in family law could offer guidance on legal rights, protections, and options for safely leaving the relationship.

She highlighted therapists or counsellors which includes mental health professionals could offer support and counselling to help women process their experiences, build self-esteem, and develop coping strategies for leaving the relationship.

“It's essential for the woman to document any threats or instances of abuse and seek legal advice immediately. A lawyer can help navigate the legal system and advocate for the woman's rights as a parent.

“It's also crucial for the woman to prioritise her safety and the safety of her children by creating a safety plan and accessing resources such as domestic violence shelters, if necessary,” she added.

Kok said survivors who have limited financial resources could seek assistance from the Legal Aid Centre in their respective states.

In a related matter, Yayasan Chow Kit Child Activist Founder Dr Hartini Zainudin said the decision to leave was personal and depends on various factors such as personal safety, the well-being of children, financial stability and the availability of support networks.

She said making such a decision necessitates careful planning and support.

“Community should offer robust support systems for those in such vulnerable positions.

“It’s so difficult. Dependency, including emotional attachment to their partner, concern for their children's well-being, financial dependency, and societal pressures. The cultural and societal pressure is enormous,” she said.

Hartini urged the community to seek advice from professionals such as counselors or legal advisors who could help in understanding one's rights and the steps involved in leaving safely.

She emphasised the existence of cultural, societal, and tribal laws, as well as civil and shariah laws and that parental kidnapping was not considered a crime in the country.

She also suggested that women seek help from various sources, including domestic violence helplines and shelters, where organisations could provide immediate safety, legal advice, and emotional support.

However, she pointed out that there was a shortage of such facilities in Malaysia, and more resources like rehouses and shelters are needed.

Hartini recommended consulting lawyers or legal aid organisations for advice on divorce, custody and protection orders.

She said counseling services with professional counselors or therapists can offer emotional support and guidance during this challenging time.

Aside from seeking professional help, Hartini highlighted the importance to be in tourch with family and friends as a supportive network can provide emotional support and practical help.

She also mentioned about the community and religious leaders that could be trusted in which some cases, these individuals can offer guidance, mediation and support.

Hartini said it was crucial to understand manipulative tactics used by perpetrator that aimed to exert control and instill fear.

She urged women to seek legal advice to comprehend their rights and the legal protections available for them and their children.

“Documenting everything, keeping records of threats, abusive behaviour and any interactions that might support your case in a custody battle.

“Woman must develop a safety plan. This includes having a safe place to go, knowing who to call for help and how to leave quickly if needed,” she added.

Hartini advised utilising support networks, such as domestic abuse organisations, legal aid, and social services, to navigate through the situation effectively.

She said to address challenges, the important thing to do is think rationally, confiding in someone trustworthy and taking actions that preserve one's dignity, religion, and identity as a wife.