You Can Make A Difference Now (YCMADN): Back to Sanity

Posted on 10 November 2011


OF ALL the forms of abuse, nothing is more insidious than emotional and psychological abuse, according Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) social work manager Wong Su Zane, who has been with WAO for six years and also volunteers on other counselling helplines.


The first and hardest step is acknowledging the abuse. Some people who are in bad relationships sometimes get so used to the verbal abuse that they think it’s normal behaviour. It is only when the psychological abuse escalates and becomes unbearable that the victim realises that she has to seek help.


The second step is to ask for help, either from people you trust or from organisations like WAO. Find out what needs to be done should you want to leave an abusive relationship.


Women also need to know the protection they can get from the police. Most women are scared to make a police report, thinking it is harsh and final. But making a report need not lead to the immediate arrest of the perpetrator. What it will do is get you an interim protection order (IPO) while the police investigates your complaint.


The IPO protects you from the abuser, and the report will serve as evidence should you wish to file for divorce or child custody.


How you can help

It often helps when the victim has someone to talk to without fear of being judged. Most women in abusive relationships think there is no way out. The psychological impact is such that they believe their abusers when they say that they are worthless and this is the only way of life for them. They believe it when they abuser says no one can help them.


There is always help. If you know of or suspect abuse among people you know, speak up. Go to the person and say that you are ready to listen to her. Don’t judge her, don’t offer your opinions, don’t belittle her issues.


Ask her if she would like you to call for help, or give her the numbers to call.


Lalitha wants her son to be a newscaster when he grows up. She doesn’t speak English, and throughout our interview, she spoke in Bahasa Malaysia and Tamil (translated through her social worker Puveshini Rao).


Her voice grew strong when she said, “I want people to look at my son and hear him. No one heard me while my husband was beating me. No one heard me when my husband and his family told me I was worthless. No one heard me when my son was coming out of my womb and I lay there bleeding to death. I want people to hear my story and know what happened to me was wrong. I want my son to learn English and tell the world.”

Where can I get help?


Women’s Aid Organisation

Counselling line: 03-7956 3488

General line: 03-7957 0636/ 03-7957 5636

Sexual assault helpline: 03-7960 3030

Go to They provide counselling and support and legal advice.

Women’s Crisis Centre, Penang: 04-228 0342

Kuala Lumpur General Hospital One-Stop Crisis Centre:03-2690 5175

Bar Council Legal Aid Centre: 03-2691 3005/ 03-2693 2072

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