Then 21-years-old, the Singaporean went against her mother’s wishes and eloped with a bartender she had known for just about a year.
Elaine always had a penchant for “bad boys”, and while the relationship was passionate and exciting, the low points were just as dramatic. But she chose to ignore the warning signs.
Their 16-year marriage was rocked by abuse and infidelity, until she got a divorce in 2014.
Now 45, Elaine shared her story with AsiaOne but asked not to be identified as her ex-husband has since remarried.
Describing the early days of their relationship, she said: “I was not allowed to put on makeup or even people-watch because he would accuse me of trying to attract another man’s attention.
“He threw away my pager when he saw guys messaging me, and he convinced me that my mother was against us being together because he was Malay-Muslim and she would therefore try to break us up.”
In a bid to thwart their romance, her mother had pulled Elaine out of the university hostel and imposed a midnight curfew. It only fuelled Elaine’s rebellion.
“I actually proposed to him,” Elaine shared, with the thought that “since I’m 21 and an adult, I don’t need my mother’s consent”. But she didn’t expect things to escalate so quickly. The couple got married just a few months later, on Valentine’s Day, 1998.
“Everyone thought I kena bomoh (black magic),” said Elaine with a laugh.
She quickly found out that instead of gaining her freedom, she was simply trading one cage for another.