This is a popular question asked of women who endure years of excruciating abuse from their husbands or partners.
Wringing her hands and with pain etched on her face, Charlene Singh offered her reasons for staying in an “abusive marriage” for 27 years, saying: “I stayed for my children; I thought he would change.”
According to Singh, 48, her husband, Vinnay, “horribly” abused her since they got married in 1990, adding that the abuse was physical, mental and emotional.
She provided medical records dating back to 2015 - when she said she decided to record the alleged abuse.
In one of these records, dated June 2015, Dr A Rosch from Joburg’s Randburg Medicross Centre wrote that Singh suffered “bruising of (the) nose”, after her husband had “allegedly assaulted (and) head-butted” her.
Rosch also recorded bruising on both elbows after Singh had allegedly been slammed against a cupboard, where “she fell twice on the back of her head” - the result of which was blurred vision, a headache and mild concussion.
“Bruising of the nose and elbows (is) consistent with blunt trauma to face and elbows - also symptoms of concussion,” the doctor recorded, adding that Singh was in an “emotional” state at the time of the examination.
Singh claimed that things came to a head in February after Vinnay, 47, assaulted her again upon her return from Durban, where she had stayed with her parents for roughly a year “to recuperate from the abuse”.
A medical record from Dr A Economakis from the same Medicross facility shows debilitating injuries to Singh’s right shoulder and arm, which she says was a result of the alleged February assault.
She laid charges of assault at the Linden police station in February, and the case is currently before the courts.
However, her estranged husband has dismissed Singh’s claims as “totally false”, with Vinnay adding that his wife “is hell drawn on bringing me down for the fact that I initiated divorce”.
Vinnay says he and his lawyer had evidence showing how Singh made his life “a living hell after I said I am going to file for divorce. So this triggered her whole process”.
“If she was abused all these years, why did she not invoke divorce?” Vinnay asked.
But Singh gave her explanations as to why she feels it is difficult for women to climb out of the “rut of abusive relationships”, saying she had her two children in mind when she decided not to leave and “didn’t want to break up the family”.
“I’m not a person to give up on anything. I was quite positive that I would be able to sort out my situation - I was determined to sort the situation out,” she emphasised.
“I had complete and utter trust in this man; I had never for a second doubted him at all, in all aspects.
“My trust in him included the financial side of the family, even though I never knew what he earned - he kept that away from me,” Singh added.
On why she has decided to speak out about what she says has been years of unrelenting anguish - factoring in that the matter is before the courts - Singh said it was to share “with other women in my situation that no woman should put up with this (abuse)”.
“At the end of the day, we as women are very strong. We don’t realise our strength, until we are put in a situation where we are left alone.
“I have been alone now, where my husband has not paid a cent in maintenance. I have been getting financial support from my parents and friends,” Singh said, adding that her husband was the one who worked, while she raised the children and “ran the household”.
Although she said it has been financially tough for her after Vinnay moved out of their house, she stressed that she had no regrets about laying charges against him.
“Believe me, I understand that sometimes it could feel like you are in a rut and afraid of what’s going to happen should you leave. This is why I wanted to share my story with you, so that other women out there can get the courage to try by all means to get out of an abusive relationship.”
Shirish Kalian, Vinnay’s legal representative, said he was aware of the medical records referred to above, but that they would deal with them in court.
“For the record, we deny these allegations,” Kalian said.