Sun, May 13, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Forum advises women to leave abusive men

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

When news of People First Party (PFP) Legislator Hwang Yih-jiau's (黃義交) divorce from Cheng Chun-yue (鄭春悅) hit the airwaves in 1998, the couple's adolescent daughter was shocked.

She first learned of her father's alleged trysts and her parents' impending divorce from TV reports during Hwang's stint as Taiwan Provincial Government spokesman, Cheng said yesterday at a press conference on abuse.

Cheng hadn't prepared her daughter for the news that she was seeking a divorce from Hwang, she said, warning mothers considering divorce ahead of Mother's Day to better inform their children.

"I handled the matter poorly," Cheng said.

Hosted by the Garden of Hope Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping abuse victims, the conference brought together abused mothers to discuss how to leave their violent husbands.

Hwang did not abuse Cheng, but the fallout from their divorce led her and her daughter to "flee" to the US, Cheng said, where she married a Taiwanese-American who turned violent.

The second husband once beat her daughter so hard she required stitches in her head, Cheng said.

Designer Hsiao Yao (蕭瑤) also suffered at the hands of her husband. Now in her 50s, Hsiao married a rich Indonesian businessman when she was a young actress and moved to Indonesia, where they raised two kids.

He used to string up the children and beat them at night, she said.

The Ministry of the Interior said that women report nearly 50,000 abuse cases yearly in Taiwan, filing "50,000 to 60,000" applications for "abuse protection orders" against their husbands, foundation director Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) said.

The actual number of abuse cases is believed to be "five to six times higher" than the reported figure, she said.

Cheng and Hsia yesterday fielded questions from a crowd of women on leaving an abusive man.

Women must develop skills to become economically independent once they leave their husbands, Hsiao advised, while Chi urged them to seek "expert" help from organizations like the Garden of Hope.

Cheng urged mothers to draw the line after abuse or infidelity first surfaces.

"If it happens once, it will happen again," Cheng said.

"There's a story that goes: The first flower your husband gives you [out of guilt] will come after he bawls you out; the second flower will come after he beats you; and the third he will place on your grave," Chi said.

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