14 July 2006

Why You Should Not Abuse Your Husband

Because he might kill you, that's why.

ST July 14, 2006
Prosecution appeals against jail term
By Chong Chee Kin

CONVICTED killer Lim Ah Seng does not know it yet, but the prosecution has appealed against his 2 1/2 year jail term for killing his wife.

Judicial Commissioner Sundaresh Menon last week convicted Lim, 37, of culpable homicide.

The sentence fell short of what the prosecution sought for Lim - about 4 1/2 years.

On Wednesday, the prosecution filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal.

Confirming the development yesterday, Lim's lawyer, Mr Sunil Sudheesan, told The Straits Times he was not surprised that the prosecution has appealed.

His client, who appeared overjoyed when he was given the sentence last week, has yet to be told about it.

He is now in Queenstown Remand Prison serving his sentence, which was backdated to Oct 25 last year, when he was first arrested.

Mr Sudheesan, from Harry Elias Partnership, said he will speak to Lim's family and visit his client tomorrow.

He said the family cannot afford a lawyer for the next round of hearings, so he will probably do it pro bono, but 'in any case, we will defend him vigorously'.

In sentencing Lim last week, the judge noted the 'unique' facts in the case.

Lim had lived in fear of being beaten by his wife, Madam Riana Agustina, who once hit him so hard he became deaf in one ear. She also beat their two children so badly, child welfare officials had to step in.

On the night he killed her, she had threatened to report him for rape after having sex with him. That night, she attacked him repeatedly and threatened to stab him to death.

The judge said: 'His wife had initiated and pursued a course of action all through which the accused had been at the receiving end, until he finally snapped.'

The judge also noted that Lim had shown 'uncommon meekness' in the way he dealt with the abuse by his wife.

After she died, he contemplated suicide and 'unreservedly accepted responsibility from the outset'.

The hearing for the appeal before the Court of Appeal is likely to take place in late September.

This is quite an interesting case, from the psychologist's perspective. This man, Lim Ah Seng, is probably suffering from a certain recognised psychological condition which is a sub-category of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is the general name for the psychological disorder often suffered by rape victims, war veterans and survivors of traumatic experiences such as terrorist attacks, tsunamis or other natural disasters.

Anyway, Lim Ah Seng's psychological condition (the PTSD sub-category I mentioned) is commonly known as the Battered Wife's Syndrome. The reason for the name is that in a male-female relationship, it is usually the woman who gets it, not the man. But in Lim Ah Seng's case, it is the man, Lim Ah Seng, who gets it. That's really quite rare. Wikipedia's description of the syndrome:
    "... a reference to any person who, because of constant and severe domestic violence usually involving physical abuse by a partner, becomes depressed and unable to take any independent action that would allow him or her to escape the abuse. The condition explains why abused people often do not seek assistance from others, fight their abuser, or leave the abusive situation. Sufferers have low self-esteem, and often believe that the abuse is their fault. Such persons usually refuse to press charges against their abuser, and refuse all offers of help, often becoming aggressive or abusive to others who attempt to offer assistance."
What happens next is that the victim, although docile, passive and weak all along, suddenly loses his or her inhibition, retaliates in extremely violent fashion and kills the abuser. Just as Lim Ah Seng suddenly kills his abusive wife Madam Riana Agustina.

The question is whether the fact that the offender had Battered Wife's Syndrome should excuse him from the offence. In most jurisdictions, it doesn't lead to a full acquittal but may reduce a murder charge to "manslaughter" (as in Lim Ah Seng's case). It may also serve as a mitigating factor in sentencing (that is, the judge may take it into account, and accordingly impose a lighter sentence).

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angry doc said...

Is there an 'Abused-maid Syndrome'?

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

I think it would probably be the same psychological effect at work ...

Dr Oz bloke said...

Hmm I'm thinking "Abused-doctor syndrome" also.

Kena abused by patients pretty often, one day lose control take a needle and syringe and stab patient to death!

Oops! Better get grip on myself LOL!

Anonymous said...

how about "Abused recruit Syndrome? Load live rounds and spray the ccb officers and paper generals..

angry doc said...

Incidentally, I am told that one common sign of heat stroke victims in the army is that they all swear at their officers and NCOs in their delirium.

And Oz, to be able to kill someone with a 21G needle you need to be very fast, or your patient very slow. :)

Anthony said...

Just one point Mr Wang.

I've had the opportunity to talk to someone from the San Jose Public Prosecutor's office specializing in domestic abuse.

The interesting thing about domestic abuse and the attendant "Abused Wife Syndrome" is that it is really equal opportunity - it affects men, women, children, heterosexual and same-sex couples.

Wiki, once again, has a great article on it.


The reason I bring this up is precisely because society does not normally think of the husband as a possible victim.

If we don't stop thinking of such cases as "exceptional", it will necessarily distort our justice system. Males, for example, will have an uphill time establishing this in court.

Worse, they will be less likely to seek help, and will have less help available. Circumstances like the case in question can and should be avoided.

le radical galoisien said...

anthony: I concur. These cases are not exceptional. From a talk given at my school, abuse of males by females in a relationship is about 1% (the other way round is about 90%). But if you really consider it, 1% is still a lot (just observe the impact of the GST increase), and perhaps in fact that 1% is even greater because so much of it goes unreported due to the very problem of inaccurate gender roles.

The Oriental Express said...

When God gave the command for women to be submissive to their husbands, He meant it for a purpose. As with all His other commands, there is also that gentle other consideration. Some say that He made Eve from Adam's rib because He wants a woman to be a real helpmate and partner to her husband. But when wives take over, chaos and disharmony reign!!!

Anonymous said...

You mean he never heard about Michael McCrea. Kill somebody? Better scoot to Australia. Why contemplate suicide?