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The Straits Times
Nov 9, 2022
A 65-year-old woman with schizophrenia, who is not able to protect herself from abuse, will be placed in a care facility to separate her from her abusive 91-year-old mother, who assaulted the younger woman on a weekly basis for five years.
A Family Court judge said in written grounds published on Wednesday that an order for the daughter to be committed to a place of safety for the mandatory period of two years under the Vulnerable Adults Act was in her best interest.
District Judge Amy Tung said she agreed with the Adult Protective Service (APS) that the daughter, identified as Madam Lily, is highly likely to face further abuse from her mother, identified as Madam Kan, should they continue staying together.
Madam Lily, a retired polytechnic lecturer and relief teacher who is single, lives a fairly isolated existence with her mother in a five-room flat.
She has limited contact with her five siblings, who have kept their distance to prevent Madam Kan from harassing or abusing them.
Madam Kan continued to use violence on Madam Lily despite a personal protection order (PPO) obtained by the daughter in 2016 and repeated warnings by the police for breaches of the PPO over the years.
Counselling had not been effective in stopping Madam Kan because her violent and aggressive behaviours are due to brain damage.
A medical report stated that the part of Madam Kan’s brain responsible for emotional control has significant atrophy and scarring, and that she did not show any sign of remorse, as her brain has been damaged.
In 2019, Madam Kan punched Madam Lily’s eye and nose until she had to be admitted to hospital for nose bleeding. The assault was triggered by Madam Lily having bought the wrong potatoes.
Madam Kan would sometimes turn aggressive when officers from social service agencies tried to engage her. In 2021, when APS officers visited Madam Kan, she threatened to pour water on them.
Aside from physical abuse, Madam Kan also controlled her daughter’s freedom of movement, as she believed that Madam Lily would get raped or killed if she were to go out alone.
Madam Kan also refused home visits from the Singapore Association for Mental Health to provide support to Madam Lily.
Both Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Alexandra Hospital, where the daughter had been hospitalised, raised concerns that her mental condition may have affected her ability to appreciate the risk of abuse by her mother and rendered her vulnerable to further abuse.
A medical report in 2021 stated that Madam Lily has unrealistic expectations that her mother’s behaviour will improve.
In November 2021, the Director-General of Social Welfare first took out a court application for Madam Lily to be committed to a care facility for six months.
A second application was taken out for Madam Lily to stay at the facility for a further two years.
At a hearing before the court, the APS reiterated the need for the mandatory two-year placement to work on the proposed intervention plans, particularly to establish a safety plan and work with Madam Lily and her siblings.
Madam Lily insisted at the hearing that her mother has changed and is much nicer to her.
Judge Tung said: “Given Madam Kan’s rather permanent condition which contributes to her aggression and inability to feel remorse, this would mean that the abusive environment at home remains unchanged for Madam Lily. Her home will continue to be a place where abuse will be perpetuated on her on a regular basis.”
The judge also encouraged the woman’s siblings, who did not want to be in contact with Madam Lily, as they were concerned she would blame them for not supporting their mother, to come forward to support their sister.
Madam Lily has appealed against the decision.