SINGAPORE: A man who sexually abused his stepdaughter for more than 20 years since she was seven, leaving her suicidal and emotionally scarred, was sentenced to eight years, nine months and eight weeks' jail on Monday (Jan 11).
The 67-year-old man cannot be named due to gag orders protecting the identity of the victim, who is now 33.
The judge highlighted the degree of psychological harm left on the victim, who did not flag the abuse until three years ago as she was financially dependent on the accused and did not want her mother to "grow old alone".
She has contemplated suicide many times and is sensitive to the sound made by the clicking of doors as it reminds her of the offences, said District Judge Jasvender Kaur.
The victim also said that any sentence her stepfather received will not make a difference to her as it will not remove the pain she feels, adding that she wonders if she will ever be able to enter into a relationship.
The man had pleaded guilty in October last year to five counts of molestation, with another nine charges taken into consideration.
He began dating the victim's mother after the victim's father died in 1989, and they were married ten years later. The molestation began in 1994, and in 1999 when the victim was 12, the man molested the girl when she asked him to help her with some medication.
The victim grew accustomed to the sexual abuse over the years, believing that her only way out was "to either end her life or wait until she turned 35 years old to move out to her own flat", the court heard.
When she told her brother about the abuse in 2013, he suggested that she lock her bedroom door. She began doing so and this reduced the instances of abuse, but her stepfather would force his way in as the lock was faulty.
In February 2017, when the victim was 29, her mother was admitted to hospital and her stepfather preyed on her when they returned home.
She resisted and texted her brother to tell him what was happening, saying she was "scared and wanted to die".
The offender stopped his acts only when the victim's friend called her and talked loudly on the phone. The victim later made a police report.
READ: Man admits sexually abusing stepdaughter for more than 20 years from when she was 7 in 'unprecedented' case
The victim was assessed and found to have experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, coping with "self-talk" by reminding herself that her stepfather had not raped her.
She also distracted herself with work and kept her mother's needs for finances and companionship in mind.
Her stepfather told investigators that he felt the urge to touch the victim when she was going through puberty, feeling "tempted" after seeing her naked when he was helping her with the medication, and said he was not having regular sex with his wife.
The prosecutor had asked for the maximum sentence of 10 years' jail and an additional three months' jail in lieu of caning, while the defence asked for six years and 10 months, calling the prosecution's submitted sentence "crushing".
The lawyer added that his client had been a victim of sexual abuse himself for about five years from the age of 15, when a man abused him.
Where to get help: Samaritans of Singapore operates a 24-hour hotline at 1800 221 4444, or you can email email@example.com. If someone you know is at immediate risk, call 24-hour emergency medical services.