Real-life abuse stories shared at ST Book Club

(From left) Pave social workers Saravanan Krishnan, Adisti Jalani and Soh Siew Fong, and former ST deputy editor Alan John discussed helping people deal with domestic violence and counselling abusers.
(From left) Pave social workers Saravanan Krishnan, Adisti Jalani and Soh Siew Fong, and former ST deputy editor Alan John discussed helping people deal with domestic violence and counselling abusers.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

A woman lost her job because her boyfriend showed up at her workplace, saw her talking to another man and beat the pair up.

Another woman's husband poked her in the eyes, ears and nose with chopsticks because she was too busy to go out with him.

These were among the shocking stories of real-life abuse shared by social workers from family violence specialist centre Pave at The Straits Times Book Club on Wednesday.

About 140 people at the club's 10th edition at the National Library Building listened to accounts from When Love Hurts, a collection of true stories of domestic violence, compiled by Dr Sudha Nair, Pave's executive director, and her team.

In the session, moderated by journalist and former deputy editor of The Straits Times Alan John, social workers Saravanan Krishnan, Adisti Jalani and Soh Siew Fong discussed helping people deal with domestic violence.

Abuse can be not just physical but also psychological and happen in as well as outside a marriage, they said. Unmarried victims are especially vulnerable, noted Mr John, as they cannot apply for a Personal Protection Order from the court.

Ms Adisti discussed why people stay in violent relationships, sometimes for years, and in some cases, marry their abusers.

"What we don't see is the grip of fear," she said, adding that a victim may stay for many reasons: They could be dependent on their abusers for income or status; their abusers may threaten their families; or they simply believe their abusers "didn't mean it".

They also shared the process of counselling abusers - most of whom are men - and helping them understand and unlearn violence.

The session deeply affected retired businesswoman Rebecca Teo, 61. "I didn't realise the prevalence of such abuse. We need information like this about what is happening and how we can help."

The book club runs every last Wednesday of the month. At the next session on Feb 27 , Dr William Wan will speak with Straits Times journalist Lee Siew Hua about his new book, Through the Valley, on the grace of ageing and dying well. Readers can register at str.sg/o6ZP.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2019, with the headline 'Real-life abuse stories shared at ST Book Club'. Print Edition | Subscribe