By Natasha Sim | Parents Avenue’s Writer | All images courtesy of Queennera Francine
Violence at home, whether emotional or physical, is certainly not uncommon. A recent report outlines worrying levels of domestic violence cases in the country. Yet, many such cases remain unreported out of fear and stigma.
So, it came as a surprise when we sat down with Queennera Francine to learn that she too was part of that statistic. The Kupi-Kupi FM radio announcer and songstress admitted to being stuck in a vicious relationship for a year and a half.
Five years after her divorce, Queennera spoke candidly to Parents Avenue about her experience of coming out of physically abusive relationship stronger, and single handedly raising a child.
Opening up publicly for the first time
“I’ve never really talked to anyone about this,” Queennera said, although there is a generous amount of gossip surrounding her former relationship.
She said that most do know her history, but very little of it. So, it’s a great deal for her to be able to talk about it now.
According to Queennera, the relationship quickly came as it went.
“We knew each other for a few months. It all went by very fast,” she said. Next thing you know, the couple had got engaged and married within a span of a year.
It was 2014. At that time, she was only 22-years-old and he, 5 years older.
She held onto ambition of a career in entertainment. Especially following her stint as a contestant on Akademi Fantasia (AF) Season 9.
But she found herself pregnant shortly after her wedding.
It was then that she also began to realise that “our problems were getting bigger and bigger.”
And the same could be said with her ex’s temper that just got worst and worst.
“The relationship was toxic”
Queennera had no qualms admitting that her former relationship was toxic.
Not only did her ex verbally assault her constantly, he was also physically violent towards her on several occasions.
“He would say really horrible things to me and call me names that I won’t mention here,” she said.
“I felt so trapped,” she said. But she persisted out of love, or what she understood of it at that time.
In her words, “I tahan and sabar saja because I just didn’t want to make things worse.”
He was controlling too. Aspects of her life came under his scrutiny, including where she worked and where she went.
Besides that, she rejected any offers to perform and sing publicly because of her ex.
However, he was jobless throughout her entire pregnancy.
So, that left her as the sole provider for them and their incoming child, working at a job that paid less than RM1,000 in wages.
“He wouldn’t let me tell my parents that he was jobless too,” she added.
The man was also struggling with drinking and would frequently come home at ungodly hours.
His behaviour left Queennera physically and mentally drained. And at 23-years-old, depressed.
Her son became her blessing
“Having my son, Kingston, was truly the wakeup call I needed,” she affirmed.
Queennera drew strength from the birth of her son to leave her former husband.
“After he was born, I started to ask myself if this was the kind of environment I wanted him to grow up in,” she said, referring to the abusive household she was in.
She emphasised again how she only wants Kingston to be happy, and for him to have a better life.
When Kingston was a few months old, Queennera made the decision to abandon the relationship good.
It was also during that time that she received a call to start a career with Kupi-Kupi FM.
“My parents were so worried for me. They couldn’t see me taking any more risks with my life,” she said.
However, Queennera took the leap of faith anyway. That too, meant moving from Tambunan to KK alone with an infant.
Having a strong support system saved her
If not for her family, Queennera says that she could not have gotten through those tough times alone.
“I remember once I was driving alone from Tambunan to Keningau after work,” she recalls.
“It was late at night, I was tired and having really painful menstrual cramps to the point that I couldn’t move,” she shared.
At that time she had to make a daily commute between where she stayed in Tambunan and her workplace in Keningau.
She reached home completely flustered, but her parents simply told her to rest while they cared for her son that night.
“I was so fortunate to be staying with my parents at that time.”
Queennera’s son will be turning 5-years-old soon.
She says that she will be forever grateful for her family who supported her during those dark days.
She offers some advice, “please reach out if you are ever in a situation like mine. Please share things and never ever keep quiet.”
“I still cannot believe I went through all of that”
At 27-years-old now, Queennera is still astonished that she went through all of that, five years later.
And having to experience divorce, abuse, pregnancy and birth at such a young age too.
“I came from crying almost every night during my pregnancy to becoming who I am today,” she said.
If anything, Queennera says she thanks her ex for giving her the opportunity to grow and learn from the experience.
“I truly believe that he is not a bad person, but he has his own issues,” she said.
She found it in her heart to forgive him. However, she said that period in her life is not easy to forget.
“I can only accept that that was my life and learn from it,” said Queennera.
She opines that she’s become more independent by embracing single motherhood.
Dream of a picture perfect family
She’s also not shy to admit that she is stronger than ever because of her experience.
“I had to go through so much on my own. It’s made me independent and I’m stronger because of it,” she said.
Although, Queennera interjected that fact with talk about how she still dreams of a picture perfect family for Kingston.
“I think every single parent can relate when I say that I still hope for a complete family. Because that means someone else to share the load,” she said.
She sometimes finds herself jealous of other “more whole” families, while she operates as a one-woman gig.
“It’s tough. To Kingston, I’m not just his mother; I’m his best friend and I have to play the role of a dad too.”
Being a single parent means that the mother-and-son duo do a lot of things together too.
“I bring my son to my performances and shows,” she said.
So much so that her son has grown to love singing as much as she does.
She laughingly confesses that the both of them frequently karaoke together in the car.
And in spite of just the two of them, Queennera makes damn sure to tell him “I love you” every day.
“I want him to remember that I’ll always be there for him.”
If you are in crisis and/ or in a violent home situation, please call Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (SAWO) Helpline at 088-280200.
Listen to Queennera Francine “Kiki Bah” every day from 10am to 1pm at Kupi-Kupi FM 96.3FM. Her latest single “Seandainya” is out now on Spotify and all digital platforms.
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By Natasha Sim | Parents Avenue’s Writer | All images courtesy of William Lee
During his infancy, William Lee’s mother heard about a family wishing to give away their newborn. The family in rural Keningau had already 9 or 10 mouths to feed—they could not possibly afford to raise another child. The year was 1992. Hearing this, his mother told his father, “I’d like to keep that child.”
William grew up never knowing anything about this. Until 27 years later, on the day before his wedding.
The 27-year-old startup founder shares with Parents Avenue his story, and how it has impacted his views on family and his life.