Intimate Partner Violence

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Intimate Partner Violence is any attempt by one person in an intimate relationship to dominate and control the other. It can happen across all types of relationships. Intimate partner violence can have severe emotional and psychological consequences. Violence is never acceptable – you deserve to feel valued, respected and safe in any relationship, and the first step is to be aware and recognise the signs of relationship abuse.

Examples and Possible Signs

The main signs of an abusive relationship are:

  • Feeling like you live in constant fear of your partner and/or emotionally helpless
  • Feeling that you deserve to be hurt, or that you cannot do anything right
  • Being belittled by your partner and experiencing humiliation as a result
  • Being treated like an object by your partner to fulfil their needs
  • Being forced to comply with your partner’s request through threats (eg. threats to harm you or your children, taking your children away)
  • Your partner being excessively controlling (being excessively jealous and possessive, controlling where you go and activities, prevents you from seeing your family

If you find that you identify with most of these signs, it is likely that you are in an abusive relationship. While you may be afraid, do know that there are many resources available to help you.

What can I do if I’m experiencing similar scenarios?

If you or your children are experiencing similar scenarios, there is help available! Here is what you can do before the abuse get worse:

1. Call for help.
Contact the police (especially in emergencies) or your nearest Family Service Centre (FSC) (alternatively, call ComCare Call Hotline (1800 222 0000) to be redirected to the nearest FSC). A comprehensive list of contacts that include other organisations can be found here.

2. Seek medical attention if you have injuries.
Medical reports are confidential so you can tell the doctor the true cause of your injuries. Keep your medical receipt as evidence.
If you intend to apply for a Protection Order, you will have to ask the doctor to write a medical report for the court.

3. Gather evidence.
Especially in cases of non-physical violence, you can keep pieces of evidence such as texts or voice memos that reflect abuse. You can also seek the help of eyewitnesses.

4. Seek shelter in a crisis shelter.
Admission is via police/hospital/social worker/FSC referral. Should you require shelter, please go to your nearest family service centre or make a police report.

5. Seek legal protection and/or advice.
More information is mentioned below.

6. Seek counsel.
Counsellors can help you think through situations, and even help perpetrators acknowledge and change their behaviour. Counselling services are available at any of the helplines listed here.

7. Make a safety plan for the next time violence or abuse occurs.
This includes:

  • Finding pockets of ‘safe times’ (where the abuser is away, distracted or asleep) to contact friends, family or other supporters
  • Establishing secret codes to alert supporters
  • Packing and hiding an ‘emergency bag’
  • Teaching children how to contact the police. FSC social workers are equipped to help you draft a safety plan.

More details on safety plans can be found here.

How can I seek legal help?
Though unmarried victims are not able to apply for PPO, they will be able to file for a Protection Order under POHA.

Penal Code For select hurt and sexual offences, there are enhanced penalties for acts committed against those in an “intimate relationship” or “close relationship” with the offender at the time of the commission of the offence.
Protection from Harassment Act Sections 3, 4, 5, and 7 consider intentionally causing harassment, alarm, or distress, causing fear, provocation, and facilitation of violence, and unlawful stalking as offences. Under Sections 3, 5, and 7, offenders are liable for imprisonment, or fine, or both. Under Section 4, offenders are liable for fine. POHA provides legal protection in the form of:

1. Protection Order / Expedited Protection Order
2. Non-publication order

Abusers served with the Protection Order cannot threaten, stalk or harass their victims. If found to have breached conditions, they can be fined or imprisoned, or both.

More information about the application procedure can be found here.

Singapore Statistics

Based on a 2012 study commissioned by PAVE, 344 respondents in Singapore revealed that one-third of unmarried persons between the ages of 15 and 34 had been in an abusive romantic relationship. Two-thirds of these had been in an abusive relationship in their teens. (TODAY Online, 2019).