Oh Well, Relationship!

I always believe that as a psychologist I own the honor to learn many factual things about others – while I am doing my work. Since this is Friday night, let we discuss something light – relationship. I am inspired by many cases that I have found on site – abusive relationship, gay relationship, cheating on partners and many more.

Abusive Relationships

I have a few clients who come for counseling because they have been living in an abusive relationship for years. The first one who usually come and asks for help is the victim – mostly women. One women came to see me and told me her stories. She was married to a rich husband – a businessman. They have been married for more than 15 years and the cycle of abusive relationship have been started early on their marriage life. The trigger was usually small stuff and as a snow ball, it gets with bigger every year goes by. Another woman also came and shared her marriage life – in which she had experienced 20 years of verbal, emotional and physical abuse from her husband. Both women caught my attention because they have many children during those years of being abused by her husband.

Their husbands represent the common profile of abusers – showing off their ‘power’ upon their wives and/or children – by throwing any verbal put-downs or literally, using any stuffs around them; crying or begging for forgiveness once they have done with their abusive behaviors; buying gifts or sending ‘the air of love’ and the cycle will start all over again.

Sometimes, this abusive relationship was worsened by the presence of a third party. Oh well, relationship …

Beside the wives as victims in many abusive relationships, we have to pay attention to the children in those families. They might ‘get used’ to it, but they might never be able to get over it. Sons will believe that abusive relationship is acceptable and he will do the same cycle to his own wife later on. Daughters might be attracted to the same type of men, just like her old man. The need of cutting off the cycle of abusive relationship in the future generations can be the reason to strengthen the victims/wives to get out from such abusive relationship.

Asking the wives to get out from such relationship is not an easy work, especially when they depend on the husbands – economically, in decision making or any other aspects. They also feel sad and pity toward their husbands – “where he will stay if I leave him, will he be alright after I leave him”.

Gay Relationship

I also have a gay couple who come for counseling. I thought the process of counseling would be different compare to heterosexual couple, but I found out that they also face the same problems. There is no difference between homosexual or heterosexual relationships – skip the gender.

The issue of having affair, cheating on their partners, addiction to porn or being obsessed with certain body figure are some of the many stories behind gay relationships. For me as a psychologist, this is a chance for me to learn from their stories and at the same time, help them objectively.

It is important to look inside ourselves as psychologist, counselor or minister of where we stand – our stand point. It is a no to mixed between religion with professional point of view while helping homosexual cases. If we can differ our point of view, then we can help them to help themselves. But if we choose to stand on religion/faith over professionalism, then it is hard to support such clients – because all we can see is sin and the sinner.

Cheating

Believe me – no matter what religion, skin colors, occupations, level of education/SES – everyone has the same chance to cheat on their partners. They difference is laying on the action taken, once the temptation comes. I’ve seen doctor, church people, businessman, jobless man and many more – who admit or caught that they have affairs with others who are not their partners.

Most of them believe that their affairs were purely physical, only sexual experiences and no feeling upon it. But who knows? Most of all, by cheating – they definitely hurt someone else and crush their feelings into bits.

Oh well, relationships …

Why don’t you share your stories with me?

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Said I Love You (But I Beat You)

Just before midnight, a good friend of mine -Jonah- called me up. He asked me if I know the latest update of an old friend from Perth, who’s now working abroad.

Jonah said that he just got a text from our friend saying that her boyfriend always swear at her and beat her up. I was so shocked! I met her a few months back and she looked alright. I never had any thoughts of her being beaten up physically and being verbally abused by her boyfriend.

Abusive relationships are everywhere. It can be between partner/spouse. It can be between parents-children. And also in the elderly. Abuse can take many forms: physically, emotionally/maltreatment, sexually and verbally. Being verbally abused is a very big issue. Even though it left no obvious mark as in physical abuse, but the scars are there, inside the victim’s life.

Victims of verbally abusive relationship will feel bad about themselves, they will believe in ‘the fact said’ that they are useless, not worthy and means nothing. The longer the exposure to verbally abuse relationship, the bigger the damage on the victim.

What made me really sad was the text that my friend sent to Jonah. She asked Jonah: will you still consider me as lucky, if you know that my boyfriend always swear on me and beat me up? Because you used to say that I’m such a lucky girl, for my boyfriend loves me so much.

Ironic.

Ladies, please save yourselves. Contact the closest police stations or professionals who can help you – psychologist, counsellor, social worker against abusive relationship, government agency and many more. The longer you stay, the less painful you will feel. The numbness will make you feel helpless and you will decide: this is my life and I have to accept this.
Remember, no one is ever worth enough to beat you or swear on you! Not even your boyfriend who said: I love you! Everytime after he beats you up. Quit from that abusive circle and save yourself. You are not the cause of the problems, because the ones who beat you are the ones who have psychological disorder. They need help!

Writing is my way to share it to you.

Choose Love Not Abuse

Choose Love Not Abuse is national program arranged by  a group of four final year undergraduates from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). This program aims to save the victims of abusive partners in their relationships. The forms of abuses are physical, emotional, psychological and sexual. Victims are pushed to engage in an abusive cycle created by the abuser.

abuse-3They have a campaign called Dating Violence Awareness Week (dvaw) on 7-14 February 2009 and they give talks during that event to raise awareness in young people about violence in relationships. I saw the video campaign on MTV a few days ago. It was so cool! Very up to date, had a taste of young people and got the message sent. You must have a slight of it, if you are so into MTV…

By the way, I also read an article in Indonesia newspaper Kompas (Feb 1, 2009) about abusive relationship. The woman was pushed to have sex with her partner. After some times, he dumped the woman and left her with scar in her life. She felt ashamed with what had happened but she kept on begging the man to get back to her. The psychologist, who’s the lecturer in Universitas Indonesia, said that woman has such a complex sexual relationships. Well, for me as a woman, I have to say that’s true. Woman tends to complicate things and add feeling while thinking upon something, especially sex. While for (some) men, sex is just another ordinary yet important necessity.

cycle_of_abuseThe cycle of abuse is repetitive and won’t stopped until one of the party kick out from that cycle. It is usually the victim who runs away and seeks heelp at some point. The abuser is having mental problems by thinking and saying that the abusive behavior is a way of showing affections.

Support for the program of choose love not abuse by young people of Singapore. It should be followed by other young people from around the world.

Review : Antwone Fisher

I’ve watched this movie before, because the cast is my favorite for all time, Denzel Washington. But during School of Children Counselling, the purpose of watching this movie had been changed. We had to look through the effect of abuse that Antwone had to deal in his childhood years. He’d been abandoned by her mother since he was born (in the jail) and he had to stay with foster family or in government house. Don’t forget to notice the physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse that he had gone through his childhood.

Child counsellor, child psychologist and parents need to watch this movie for 2 purposes:

  1. To understand the condition of the victims in many abuse cases. This movie describes the condition of Antwone during and after the abuse occurred. We can learn to understand how it felt for a child to be beaten, strangled and sexually abused. We can get the general idea on how that abuse will affect a child in his teens and adult life.
  2. To look inside ourselves of what we have done to children around us, could be our own children or those who are working with us. We tend to do ‘daily abuse’ such as: look down at a child, swearing, call them by name and many more.
The real Antwone Fisher

The real Antwone Fisher

Because of the abuse that he had in his childhood, Antwone is now a grown up man who can’t handle his feeling toward others. He will easily punch his co-workers in the Navy, but he also afraid to get into relationship with woman. He never kissed a woman or have physical contact with them, since the day when a young woman in foster care abused him sexually. This movie captured that moment perfectly! When Antwone had to kiss his girlfriend, he could relieving the moment of that abuse. But, with love and real affection from his girlfriend, Antwone can get through that moment.

Step by step, he’s doing what needs to be done. He looked out for his true family – his mother and relatives from his father (who had been shot by his ex-girlfriend). At first, he imagined that this reunion would be something terrifying, but by the time he met them, he can get his sense of belonging back. He felt that he has identity as someone else’ family and that feeling has been missing from his heart since long.

during session

during session

The process of helping Antwone, also has a deep impact on the psychiatrist who helped him. That process helped him to get out from his own marriage problem. It seems that when we help other people, we help ourselves too. The meaning of giving is never ending, we can always give something that we have to others and eventually, we will get something back in return (Well, I’m not talking in a business way of thinking).

If you want to know more, this movie worth a watch…

Group Counselling

Individual counselling has been known in therapy and other types of counselling, namely: in the church, in the cafe, during break time, etc. But, do you know that group therapy works well when handled by those who are expert? It can help the members not to feel alone and learn from others’ experiences too. When someone, let’s say being addicted to drugs, he may not be able to go out and join others because he feels alone. He may thinks that he’s the only who has been addicted to drugs and has no one to help him. By joining a group counselling, he can share his experiences with others and get support from others too.

In another case, group counselling may help someone who feels that he’s the one to blame for what had happened. It usually happens in sexual abuse cases. A little girl may blame herself for being raped because she was not able to help herself in that incident. Even though, clearly, it was not her fault, she will bring that feeling for so long, until someone can help her. Being in a group counselling will bring her self-confident back and boost her capability to show herself as a full-functioning person.

Drama

Drama

Besides sharing as a group, doing drama is proven to be helpful. People will learn other people stories through drama. The members of a group counselling can do the drama themselves. It will be a very useful tool in counselling.

On the next article, I will write more on Play Therapy in children.

Facts on Child Abuse

During our sessions in School of Children Counselling, all the participants were brought to the facts of child abuse. David Goodwin shared numbers of shocking facts about child abuse:

  • 50% of the abusers are the family member of the child – father, brother, uncle, cousin and other relatives.
  • 45% of the abusers are the people that a child knows – neighbor, pastor, other people in the church, etc.
  • only 5% of the abusers are strangers.

It must be very shocking to know that children had been hurt by the people they trust and love the most. There was one lady who had been raped when she was 5 years old by her neighbor – who was happened to be her uncle. She did not realized the meaning of that incident, until she was a teenager. She could feel that something has been stolen from her and she was looking around to find what it was. The little girl who had been hurt is still inside of her. She becomes a young lady who is afraid to lose someone that she loves, even though that person already hurt her in many ways. She looks fragile because no matter how hard she tried to look strong, that little girl is still inside her – a little who girl can’t get any help to help herself.

How many times adults hurt children?

As adults, we hurt children in many ways. Don’t talk about extreme cases. Let’s just talk about the abuse that we do in our everyday lives. We look down at our children, students at school and Sunday school. We also think that they have no understanding on what’s happening around them, even though in fact, they do understand. They know when their parents are no longer love each other. They can sense when something is wrong in the family.

How many times we talk harsh to them? How many times we called them ‘stupid’ for not being able to meet our requirements? How many times we blame them for the things that had happened without asking questions?

Think about that carefully … because when we look back, we will find out that we hurt our children for so many times.

And that’s the fact …