Forum: Dad's confession of being the bad cop brought some healing

When I read the article, "Huang Yiliang's heart 'ripped to shreds' by Chantalle Ng's abuse allegations" (Sept 28), memories came rushing back to me with great force.

I am a 61-year-old mother of two, grandmother of three.

What I am about to divulge happened 46 years ago, and had been buried among my memories all this time until I read the article.

An only child, I was sheltered and not allowed to take part in activities, except for private language lessons and weekly visits to the library.

I had been a beaten child for as long as I could remember. I was fearful, and prone to lying, just to avoid a slap across the face or worse. I thought being beaten was normal, and that my classmates must have endured similar punishments.

When I was 16, I caught the eye of a boy, and agreed to date him. We went on twice-weekly strolls in the park or along the river bank.

Someone saw the two of us and told my grandmother, who escalated it to my parents.

That afternoon, my father summoned me and gave me a dressing down, calling me vile names. After he finished, I decided I wanted to die. I took at least 20 of my grandmother's sleeping pills, and was making my way to the couch for my last nap when my father called me to scold me again. When he dismissed me and as I was walking away, I collapsed.

I ended up in the hospital and had my stomach pumped. The next day, I was seen by a psychiatrist.

He listened to me, asked thoughtful and sensitive questions, and told me that he would talk to my parents and advise them to stop the abuse.

I was happy and thought my life would finally change. Instead, my family told me I had embarrassed them, and the doctor did not know what he was talking about.

Nothing changed.

I left home at the age of 19, never to return.

Many years later, my father travelled halfway across the globe to visit me. Towards the end of a nice dinner, he confessed his regret, and his belated realisation that "family is the most important thing in life''. He said he was made to be the bad cop by my mother and grandmother, and that he would have done things differently of his own accord.

It was not much, but it was something. It made me less envious of my girlfriends with loving fathers. I also made a promise to be a better parent.

I had forgiven him a long time ago, so as not to be consumed by the past I could not change. When he died five years later, there was no unfinished business between us. Strangely, I still feel bitter towards my grandmother and mother. I never had the chance to reconcile with either of them.

What made my heart race, after reading the article, was the chilling realisation that had I made it to the couch that afternoon long ago, I would not be here today to tell my story.

Edith Somogyi

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