Alden Boon

By 19, Jennifer Heng Already Had Two Abortions. This Is Her Story of Secret Shame, Self-forgiveness and Triumph.



How were your days like, post abortion?

After my three days of medical leave, I went back to school. My pattern of survival and coping mechanism parallelled how I dealt with my dad’s leaving — I busied myself with activities and depended on everyday routine to escape and shut out parts of my life that I didn’t want to confront. Having that normalcy gave me what I thought was strength and sanity to continue living. I do not think I would have survived had I sat down to face what I had done.

Your relationship with Boon was smooth-sailing after that, at least for a while.  

There was a resentment that festered, lingering just beneath the surface. Boon was not with me during my eight hours of induced labour. He did not fork out a single cent to pay for the abortion; I had to dip into my own savings. As the guy, he could go on living his life carefreely as if nothing had happened. Fractures in our relationship soon formed, and we broke up thereafter.

After my breakup, I became a serial dater. Power, to me back then, was having two or three boyfriends wrapped around my fingers. I felt powerful knowing I could get men’s attention; that I was desirable. There was a part of me that hated the attention, and a part of me that loved it. It was like a drug that fed a fix.

It was around this time you came to know Andy.

I got a job selling flowers in a nightclub, and after work I would hang out with my girlfriends in Andy’s pub. I had a boyfriend whom I met at his pub, and the breakup was very painful. I’d go back to Andy’s pub to reminisce about the old times. Around the same time, Andy got out of a relationship, and you know, misery loves company, as the saying goes. Very soon, he confessed his affection for me, but it took me a while to accept him. I didn’t have strong feelings for him, though being with him brought a sense of comfort — that’s probably what people call “rebound love”. It was a few months into the relationship when I began to see the signs of his violent behaviour.

What were they?

Small things: when the waitress’s service was slow, or when a driver cut him off, he would fly into a rage. One time, we were flagging for a taxi and an empty one just zipped right past us (I guess the driver saw that we were rather tipsy). Andy chased after the cab, all the while screaming madly. The taxi driver stopped the car, disembarked, went to his boot and whipped out something that resembled a metal pole. I don’t know what came over me but I ran to Andy and hugged him, sandwiching myself right between the two enraged men. Imagine what would have happened to me if the driver hadn’t backed off! When I think back, I cannot understand why I would ever put myself in such danger. Also, what man would risk harm to a woman he supposedly loves?

Didn’t his behaviour scare you? 

At that time, his anger was never directed at me. I never imagined that one day it would. This was a pattern — I never thought that something bad would ever happen to me, and so in the face of adversity I was always caught off guard.

What happened?

This one night I was waitressing at a pub near his, and he saw me talking to a male customer. He became very angry. He ordered me to stay put, and said that he would return to bring me home. When he left, my boss told me to hurry home as Andy had a reputation for being violent. I did so, walking as fast as I could towards the train station. Suddenly, I heard him yell out my name, and he charged towards me. When he closed in on me, he grabbed my arms, shook me, and threw me up against the wall. Over and over again. By now a crowd had formed.

I fell to the floor, crying, begging someone to call the police, but no one did anything. All of them just stood there and watched. It was only when Andy stopped screaming and calmed down a little that the crowd began to disperse. Just like that, as if my getting beaten up was a performance. A young girl, beaten up by a big man, and no one stepped in to intervene.

Even after this horrifying incident, you stayed with Andy. Onlookers may say to a battered woman: “Why don’t you leave him?” Why don’t women leave their abusers? It seems the only logical thing to do.

An abused woman may find it hard to get out of a situation that she knows is not good for her, because the thought of changing is sometimes scarier. She may think, “If I leave my husband, I’d have to live my life as a single mother, and live with the stigma of being a divorcee. My children will ask me why I didn’t fight harder to keep the family together; they may even hate me for breaking up the family.” And so she puts up with the beatings — what’s a beating that comes once a week compared to uprooting her life? I was like that as well. I thought, “If I leave Andy, what are the chances I can find a better guy?” I felt that he was the best I could get — I already had an abortion, I had been promiscuous, so I didn’t deserve a good man.

How should we help such women?

I once met a female inmate who after completing her sentence was back in prison after an hour. One hour. The thought of having to survive in the outside world for even an hour was just too scary for her. I know of repeat offenders who have been in and out of prison nineteen, twenty times.

How we can help an abused woman is to show her that she has a chance to live better. She is currently living her life at a certain level; we must identify her real aspirations and project to her a future beyond where she is. It is about changing her mindset, and sparking that inner motivation so she has the courage to say, “Maybe I can.”

After the episode with Andy, Boon reappeared in your life, and you had an ongoing affair with him. You again got pregnant, and this time you weren’t exactly sure who was the father. Abortion again was your go-to solution. Was having the second abortion any easier?  

I told Boon first and lied that I knew for certain the baby was Andy’s. Then I told Andy. Again, as the male in this situation, each of them could not offer and assure me there was another option. My thought process went like this: “I had already done the unimaginable once, what could be worse? I was only in my first trimester, and so I had the option to have dilation and curettage. Physically, it would not be painful at all as I would be under general anaesthesia: I wouldn’t even feel a thing.”

Read also: How Caregiving Helps Lisa Teng Answer Her Calling as a Christian

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Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.