Hubby on trauma after cross-dresser's attack: I'm a victim, too
He knew it would take time for his wife to recover from her trauma.
But warehouse executive Eric (not his real name), 34, did not expect his marriage to be in a shambles.
Within a week of moving into their three-room Circuit Road flat last November, his wife, a 28-year-old China national, was attacked by a cross-dresser who tried to strangle her with a rope, outside her flat.
We are not naming the husband because of a gag order by the court on identifying his wife.
Her attacker, IT support officer Lu Choon Sien, 33, was sentenced to eight months' jail on Thursday for the attack on Nov 7 last year.
But for Mr Eric, a bigger problem lies ahead - his family of three is barely holding together in the aftermath of the incident.
"I am a victim of this too," Mr Eric told the New Paper yesterday, as he described how his family of three started falling apart in the past 10 months.
For the first few months after the attack, the couple had sleepless nights.
Mr Eric's wife would wake up at the slightest noise, thinking it was Lu coming after her.
"She would ask me if I had heard anything, and worried about whether the attacker would look for her," he said.
On nights when she did fall asleep, she relived the strangling incident in her dreams.
To allay his wife's fears, Mr Eric would wait for her at the void deck whenever she returned home late from her job as a pub waitress.
Even then, the nightmares continued.
"She would ask me about (Lu), and whether he was still in remand. I could see the fear in her eyes," Mr Eric said.
After eight months of fear and paranoia, the family decided to move to a condominium in Geylang, where they rented a four-room unit.
It has been "a bit of a struggle" trying to keep up with the $1,200 rent monthly, said Mr Eric. But they felt safer.
"We moved to a condo because there is a security guard there. No one can attack her there," he explained.
He also took a $150 pay cut and quit his logistics specialist job to be a warehouse executive, as it allowed him to pick up his daughter after school.
"At our old place, she could take the school bus. Now I have to wake up earlier to send my daughter to school on the bus," he said.
Mr Eric had hoped these sacrifices would help ease his wife's recovery. But the woman he spent six years with became a complete stranger instead.
"She feels that death could occur any time, so she wants to live her life to the fullest right now and not hold back," he said.
This meant that she no longer kept her temper in check.
"She grew aggressive and became easily agitated. I tried to give in, but it has become too much to take. I don't know how long more I can stand this," he said.
Thinking she needed help, Mr Eric suggested she see a psychiatrist.
She flew into a rage, and he never broached the subject again.
"I already knew about her short temper before marrying her. But things were always negotiable. We would always talk things out," he said.
Now, they barely exchange a word. When they do talk, their conversations end up in screams and shoves.
Recalling a recent argument, Mr Eric said his wife even bit his finger in anger. He sought treatment at the hospital for his fractured finger, which took a month to heal.
"This physical pain cannot beat the emotional pain. I often wonder why I have to suffer this.
"Till now, I still cannot fully accept the fact that she has changed so much," he said quietly.
With no one to confide in, Mr Eric bottled up all his thoughts. He claimed to have contemplated death many times.
At one point, he sought solace in evangelists who dropped by his home.
"They heard me out and encouraged me to look at things from a different perspective.
"Nobody knows my frustration. I didn't tell my mother as I didn't want to worry or upset her," he said.
But his daughter, whom he has grown closer to after the attack, has become a calming influence.
"She has her way of making me laugh," Mr Eric said, a smile forming as he talked about his five-year-old.
"She's my only light and hope," he added.
I am a victim of this too... She feels that death could occur any time, so she wants to live her life to the fullest right now and not hold back.
- Husband of strangle victim, Mr Eric
Attacker drops phone, calls own number
FIRST WOMAN, THEN MAN: When Mr Eric looked through the contents in the phone that Lu Choon Sien had dropped, he was shocked to see pictures of a man used as the profile picture for various social media platforms.
It was about 3am, and he was deep in slumber when his wife's cries woke him up.
"Save me, dear!" she screamed in Mandarin outside the flat on Nov 7 last year.
When warehouse executive Eric (not his real name) rushed out of his flat, all he saw was his wife on all fours outside the unit, crying and shaking.
She told him that someone had tried to strangle her with a rope.
The attacker, who was dressed as a woman, fled.
But he dropped his phone in the corridor near their flat.
Just as Mr Eric was trying to find out what had happened to his wife, the phone rang.
It was Lu Choon Sien calling his own number, claiming that his phone had been snatched just 10 minutes ago - about the same time his wife was strangled.
PHONE NOT LOCKED
"His phone was not locked, so I tried to see if there were any pictures of him.
"I was shocked when I found that the phone's wallpaper and the pictures showed a man," said Mr Eric.
After agreeing to meet at the void deck, he called the police.
His wife recognised Lu instantly, though he showed up as a man.
"She knew it was him because she remembered his facial features and complexion.
"She then lunged forward and slapped him several times. The police had to hold her back because she was so agitated," Mr Eric said.
The next day, when the couple recorded their statements at the police station, the investigation officer said Lu had targeted his wife as she was wearing high heels.
As a result, his wife has now stopped wearing high heels, he said.
The officer added that Lu wanted to apologise to them face-to-face, but the couple rejected the apology.
"For what? Can I punch him in the face, then apologise later?" said Mr Eric.