Infertility – When Will It Be My Turn?

Infertility – When Will It Be My Turn?

When I got married at 25, starting a family was furthest from my mind as I was busy building my career. When I was nearly 30, I decided it was time to start a family. After trying unsuccessfully for 6 months, we turned to my gynaecologist for help. It was when we found out both of us had issues. The following months led to years of visits to numerous Western and Eastern doctors. Each visit was filled with hope followed by loss. Some months it was just unbearable. The accumulation of disappointments started to overflow into bouts of depression.

I know some couples do not make it because they just cannot work out how to support each other. That is why I am grateful I have a very supportive and understanding husband who could provide me with the emotional support I needed whenever the lows were deep and painful.

I met only one other woman who was struggling to conceive as well and we leaned on each other for comfort. We reminded each other to take ‘mental holidays’ from TTC (trying to conceive) and egged each other on during treatments.  

What happened ‘in the end’ you ask? Well, after 5 years we decided we could adopt and continue trying to a baby. Our daughter brought us so much joy that we often forget we are an adoptive family! Statistics say that the chances of conceiving increase when a couple adopts, well, it’s only 5% and we were not that 5%. 4.5 years after, we adopted our second daughter. 15 years on, we are so grateful we changed our mindsets – our girls are indeed blessings and we remain forever grateful toward their birthparents for these gifts of life!” – Andrea Yee

Infertility is a silent grief which many amongst us experience which is difficult for others to understand. Oftentimes, the couple suffers quietly; gingerly avoiding baby showers and sometimes even crumble into pieces on when others announce their pregnancies.   With the year-end festive seasons looming, the dread grows because they get asked over and over when will they bring a baby along to the next gathering; even that piteous look they sometime receive is tortuous.

If you are going through a similar journey, know that it helps to speak to another on the same journey. Do give yourself the permission to take a break from treatments. Consider setting a realistic timeline for plans to run on and when it is time to change or explore other treatments. Remember too that there are people around you who love you and whether or not you become a mom, they want to still hang around. Those who stop hanging around just because you cannot conceive may have issues of their own you are not aware of.  Men and women process emotions linked to infertility very differently; men are often more able to compartmentalize their emotions and can go about their daily tasks more steadily whereas women can often feel overwhelmed and struggle to manage her day to day tasks. Knowing this, it does not mean that infertility impacts males less than the females – they just handle it differently.

If you know someone who has been unsuccessfully trying to conceive, offering a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear is always welcome. You can offer to help run some errands or accompany her when your friend is undergoing treatment. Refrain from saying, “You can always adopt”, “Just relax”, “It could be worse”, and a host of well-meaning, yet sometimes hurtful, comments. If you do not know what to say, just be present for them. Do reach out to her husband too, who may also be feeling down and all the attention seems to be extended mainly to his wife. Invite the couple out. Ask them to go for a walk, go see a movie, grab some coffee, or any other enjoyable activity to provide a change of scenery and to recharge their spirits.

Life experiences are journeys which may take a few years – it is also important to remember that they do not last forever.  Be open to where the Universe takes you to and with that openness, these experiences may bring hope & surprising discoveries of the self along the way.

InContact organises talks on Infertility; contact us for a private or group session.

Get in touch with Incontact

Cecilia Yee, Associate Counsellor

Master of Counselling (Advanced), Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Provisional Clinical Member, Singapore Association for CounsellorsUSA Transactional Analysis Member

Mental Health Issues in Singapore

Mental health issues include the normal daily worries we all experience as a part and parcel of regular life as well as chronic long-term conditions that can debilitatingly harm a person’s overall wellbeing. While there are no “cures” to mental health issues, a majority of the people who have had mental health problems get the appropriate treatment for them and learn how to live with them and lead a good life. 

Such mental health issues are properly defined and classified by major organizations including the American Psychological Association who have developed the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Such definitions and classifications are used by psychologists unilaterally all over the world. Mental health disorders are traditionally divided into two broad groups. The first, called psychotic disorders, involve distorted or altered perception of reality. They include disorders like schizophrenia and involve symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking. The other sort are called neurotic disorders, which involve emotional dysregulation, anxiety and panic. Such conditions, like mood and anxiety disorders, are now called ‘common mental health problems.’ Mental health issues in Singapore are rampant, currently. According to a Singapore Mental Health Study conducted in 2016, one in seven people in Singapore have experienced a mental health disorder in their lifetime. Moreover, youths between the ages of 18 to 34 years were presented as the most vulnerable group. 

Types of Mental Health Issues

Following are the major types of mental health issues and disorders: 

  1. Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health disorders which include generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias (for example, agoraphobia and claustrophobia), panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety disorders can significantly impair a person’s daily functioning if left untreated. 
  2. Somatoform Disorders: Such disorders involve physical symptoms in the absence of a physical ailment or injury. They arise out of psychological difficulties, and persons suffering from such disorders complain of physical pains of which there are no biological causes. They include pain disorders, somatization disorders, conversion disorder and hypochondriasis. 
  3. Dissociative Disorders: These disorders involve temporary alterations of consciousness and distorted perceptions of reality. They include dissociative amnesia, dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder, depersonalization and derealization disorder, and dissociative fugue. 
  4. Mood Disorders: Mood disorders are characterized by prolonged or periodical disturbances in mood or emotional state. The most common of mood disorders is depression which is both a symptom and a disorder on its own. Another mood disorder is bipolar mood disorder which involves manic and depressive episodes. Risk of suicide attempts is the highest for those with bipolar mood disorder among all the mood disorders. 
  5. Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder characterized by symptoms that can be grouped into three categories: positive symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, etc.), negative symptoms (flat or blunted affect, alogia, etc.) and psychomotor symptoms (catatonia).
  6. Behavioural or Developmental Disorders: Behaviour or developmental disorders include oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 
  7. Eating Disorders: These include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa is the most lethal mental health condition of all. 

Causes of Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues generally don’t have any one specific cause. They tend to be the outcome of a complicated interaction between various causal and correlational factors. Some of them are as follows:

  • Underlying physical ailments or any injuries: It is important to rule out any physical or medical causes when talking about mental health concerns.
  • Childhood trauma
  • Loneliness and lack of social support
  • Social disadvantage, experiencing social isolation, poverty, etc.
  • Severe and/or long-term stress
  • Unemployment 
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Domestic violence or experiencing or witnessing any kind of abuse
  • Other situational or environmental factors
  • Genetics and hereditary 
  • Lifestyle factors like sleeping and eating patterns

Effects of Mental Health Issues 

Mental health disorders, no matter how mild or chronic, have a big impact on a person’s ability to get on with his or her life. Those who live with mental health disorders or are at risk of developing one often try to keep their feelings and sentiments hidden because they are afraid of how others may react. Many mental health issues often even go undiagnosed, and while some people might be suffering from problems that are not even diagnosable, it doesn’t mean that they are not struggling every single day of their lives. 

Those with chronic mental illnesses often even lose touch with reality. They may hear unexplainable voices and things that no one else does and hold irrational beliefs that may be so empowering that it may lead them to do things that they don’t want to do. Some conditions can have so much control over the one who’s suffering that they may even lose their character in the midst of trying to cope. Mental health issues can also lead to many physical health complications and other underlying health concerns. In such cases, people might need medical treatment along with therapy, counselling and/or medication. Nevertheless, most people tend to get better and lead a normal, happy life with treatment. 

Tips To Boost Your Mental Health

The road to recovery from any mental health problem and the journey to keep oneself mentally fit is unique for every individual. Developing good habits and building upon the self and expanding one’s outlook on life are some of the ways that one can take care of themselves. The following are some tips and methods that you can use in order to have a speedy recovery and/or immunize yourself, in a sense, from mental illnesses:

1. Practice Self Love and Value Yourself: 

You must treat yourself the way you would a loved one or a pet. To love oneself means putting in some hard work and having patience, and at the same time really taking care of oneself. Know that it is okay to feel what you are feeling. Accept yourself unconditionally and avoid self criticism and negative self talk to venture on a new journey of self discovery and increasing self awareness. Take out some time each day to do the things that you like, that which give your life meaning and make you fall deeper in love with living and feeling and breathing. So go on and, plan out and plant a beautiful garden with fountains and roses, or paint a portrait of an elf you’ve never met, or go for those tango lessons that you’ve always been aching to try out but never actually went for it.

2. Take care of your body:

The physical self is just as important as the mental self. So, make the right choices in terms of what you consume, hydrate yourself well, and work out. Sleep enough and get some rest whenever you can, and soak in the sunlight often enough. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes, in fact, try to eliminate them from your life. 

3. Look For Meaningful Connection And Be With Good People:

Having more than a thousand followers on social media or over a hundred people whom you party with regularly doesn’t mean that you actually have any real friends. Recognize the people in your life that add some meaning to it, that actually make you feel warm and loved and cared for, that you really want to see and care for and nurture instead of just hangout and gossip with. These are the people that you have a real meaningful connection with, and they count as your social support. Having stable and reliable sources of social support does wonders for your mental wellbeing and, as studies have time and again shown, it reduces your likelihood of developing mental ailments. 

4. Do Something For The Community:

Real happiness comes more from giving than taking. The path to contentment, as psychologists and even the great philosophers and religions of the world suggest, is one in which we not only love and care for ourselves, but also do the same for those around us. Volunteering and doing some social work regularly will help you heal in ways that you can never even imagine. 

5. Practice Mindfulness and Learn Stress Management Techniques:

Mindfulness and meditation exercises are the most effective ways to take care of your mind. Moreover, stress management techniques are a necessity. Muscle relaxation and creative visualization are empirically proven ways of reducing stress and alleviating anxiety. Other than that, learning how to manage time, setting realistic goals and embracing spontaneity every once in a while are few of the ways that you can tackle stress. 

6. Seek Help When You Need It: 

Reaching out for help is a sign that you’re strong, and not weak. It is a sign that you’re doing something real and effective for yourself. If and when you feel that things are getting out of control (or you sense the onset of a relapse, in case you’ve seen a mental health professional before), it is important to reach out to someone who’s trained in helping. At times, we cannot handle things on our own and it’s okay. So, go ahead, and take the important step to seek help. And lastly, have hope that you’ll be well. You are going to lead a full and rewarding life, and no condition can take that possibility away from you. Know that you are in control, accept the responsibility of personal wellness, and you will do and witness wonders.

Tips for effective parenting

What is parenting? 

Parenting is, at large, the process of raising a child and supporting as well as looking after the child’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual development from the stage of infancy to adulthood. Going by the words of Matt Walsh, “parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do,” parenting is a fulfilling and satisfactory journey, yet patience and calmness are important prerequisites for the same. There are many delicate processes involved in parenting which require a lot of skill and sensitivity. Your parenting has the capacity to both positively and negatively impact your child. The aim is to expand the positive impact as much as possible and minimize the negative impact that could occur unintentionally. 

Good and Bad Parenting

Good parents pay attention and cater to their child’s health and safety needs, emotional needs, social needs, and intellectual curiosity for learning new things. They also promote the development in these areas. 

A simple way to do this is to have a balance between affectionate, warm behaviour and setting clear restrictions and rules which you must be strict about to an extent. The best parenting style is one which  meets  all the child’s developmental needs for attachment ( acceptance, stability, safety, nurterence), to express  feelings and needs, need to build identity through competence and autonomy,  the understanding of limits and boundaries and lastly to encourage play and spontaneity. Good parents will make mistakes but the key characteristic of a good parent, they will repair.

Poor parenting skills can be seen in the two contrasting tendencies of parents. Some parents are overly involved in their child’s  activities, are overprotective and do not allow for the space to grow for their child. They may be too strict, and stern and be a little cold. Another tendency that parents often have is being too uninvolved, too lenient, and too indifferent to their children. Both the authoritarian and neglectful parenting styles lead to similar consequences. 

Permissive parenting is harmful, too, but may not lead to delinquency. In the end, parents do have to let their children explore their independence and failures and learn from their own experiences.

 At the same time, it is simply unhealthy and unacceptable to avoid and overlook any of your child’s concerns and problematic behaviors just because it is uncomfortable for the parents.

Skills and Tips for good parenting

Good parenting we all know is easier said than done yet there are some parents skills which we will discuss that are important for good parenting and raising capable and happy children.

  1. Communication Skills: Communication skills are important to maintain and nurture any relationship. Listening to the children patiently, paraphrasing, being mindful of your own and the child’s verbal and nonverbal cues, and expressing properly and clearly what needs to be expressed are the basics of communication. 
  1. Taking Care Of One’s Own Mental and Physical Health to Build A Resilient Personality and Model Good Behaviour: Self care and self development is crucial. If you do not work upon yourself then you will not be the kind of role model that your child needs. Parents are the people that young children spend the majority of their time with. Whatever you do and not do, however you think and act- it all makes a difference. Life has its own share of ups and downs and how parents deal with personality development and during times of distress, relaxation techniques, positive thinking must be practiced as this will not only help in dealing with stress but will instill positivity and hope in children.
  1. Do Not Forget To Express Enough Of Love and Affection: People from all walks of life and of all age groups crave love and children are no different. When a parent shows their love for children not only they feel happy and cheerful but they also start showing their love as love begets love. Spending quality time with children, watching films of their interest, getting actively involved in activities of their interest like painting, cricket, swimming , toys, taking them out for outings and telling them stories of olden days are some of the ways of showing love and affection to children.
  2. Positive Reinforcement is The Key: The idea that children can only be disciplined with intimidation and punishment is not only ineffectual but also harmful. Research has shownNegative reinforcement and punishment only create fears in your child’s mind and harm the relationship between you two. They learn unhelpful and unhealthy behaviours and thought patterns from this. Positive reinforcement, on the other hand, creates positive associations with the tasks that you require your child to perform, and your image in the child’s mind. This helps the child develop a better sense of self, practice more of good and healthy behaviours (and even unknowingly develop a liking for doing so) and strengthen the feelings of trust and love between you and them. 

Principles of good parenting

Establish boundaries and set rules. 

Remember that what is obvious to you may not be evident to a 12-year-old (or a preschooler, or even a high schooler for that matter). So, you must clearly establish boundaries and restrictions for your child. They must not be extravagant but must be reasonable, considering the safety and security of the child. 

Avoid harsh discipline. 

Of all the forms of punishment that parents use, the one with the worst side effects is any kind of  harsh emotional, physical and psychological disciplinary actions Children who have seen such harsh measures,  are more likely to be bullies and more likely to use aggression to solve disputes with others. Other than that, as stated earlier, it is best to go for positive reinforcement as negative reinforcement and punishment set the stage for growing mistrust and toxicity between you and the child. Yet we need to learn to be assertive and teach boundaries with  a more healthy and constructive approach.

Be (not overly) involved in a child’s life. 

 Active involvement of a parent in a child’s life is important as the child isn’t completely mature yet and needs guidance and support during various stages of development. This ensures that your child grows up to be a confident individual. At the same time, do not indulge in helicopter parenting and do give your child the much needed privacy once they grow up enough. Children need brief periods of time when they can learn how to be on their own and figure themselves out, especially during adolescence. However, you must help them in making big life decisions, hear them out when they need you, and let them know that they can share anything with you and expect unconditional acceptance and non judgement from your end. 

 Express your ideals and positive expectations frequently. 

Good parents have expectations they want their child to live up to. Clearly expressing such expectations helps the child develop a healthy positive sense of self esteem and drives him or her to work hard to fulfilling his or her dreams and achieving his or her goals.  

Set clear limits.

Expression of love and warmth is important in a parent-child relationship but expressing too much of it may be more harmful than helpful for the child. The home environment is the first place for learning, and is supposed to be a simulation for the outside world; that is, a safe place where the child can experiment with coping strategies, develop the appropriate skills required to deal with the harshness of the world. If you do not let your child learn and experience life in its wholeness, then you might be raising up someone who might not be able to live up to their fullest potential. Some tough love and setting clear limits is a necessity.

Workplace Harassment

There is nothing more toxic than working in an environment where bullies and harassers are overpowering and threaten us daily. Workplace harassment is not only a belittling situation where the employees have to face situations that harm their psychological, physical, social, and sexual wellbeing. Mostly this takes the form of verbal or psychological harassment, but sometimes takes extreme forms of physical and sexual harassment compromising their productivity, comfort, and safety.

Employees feel that they will be able to recognize workplace harassment and report it, harassment leaves them in a confused and self-doubting state. According to Chris Chancey, founder of Amplio Recruiting, a worker does not report these cases because of fear and most of them are unsure of what behavior constitutes harassment.

Some behaviors, though uncomfortable but seemingly harmless are not reported because of the fear of being called a snitch or a petty. But what they don’t realize is that the sooner they act the easier it will be to put an end to it.

People should educate themselves on this subject so they are more aware of the abusive behavior directed towards them and have the confidence to report it. What most of them don’t realize is that any type of workplace harassment is illegal and will put the organization in jeopardy.

Types of Workplace Harassment

  1. Psychological Harassment- It is covert and consists of tactics like withholding information from employees. It also includes taking credit for someone’s work, posing impossible demands and unreasonable deadlines on particular employees, asking workers to perform demeaning tasks that are outside the scope of work, and persistently opposing whatever the employee says. This doesn’t seem like harassment but it slowly chips away at the person’s self-esteem and undermines them.
  2. Verbal Harassment– It is an ongoing attack on the employee’s health and career. Verbal abuse in the workplace includes offensive gestures, demeaning remarks, and unreasonable criticism. This is generally considered as the grey area because it doesn’t include physical harassment. It has a negative psychological impact on the victim and results in outcomes such as depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety.
  3. Digital Harassment– It is the newest form of harassment and it is on the online platform but is as dilapidating as physical bullying. This consists of posting demeaning comments on social media, creating webpages to scrutinize the victim by mocking and belittling them, making fake personas to bully their co-workers. Social media has given birth to this new form under the cover of freedom of speech and expression. This allows the harasser to be even crueler and meaner because of the presence of the screen.
  4. Physical Harassment– It can vary in intensity because it involves simple unwanted gestures like touching the co-worker’s hair, clothes, face, or skin or more severe actions like physical assault, threatening to violence, and damage to physical property. It can be considered as a joke if the other person is not physically hurt such as kicking or going through the belongings of your co-worker without actually hurting them. Even if there is no severe physical harm, it can still be considered physical harassment.
  5. Sexual harassment– It is a serious offense and perhaps a more common kind of employee harassment than you might realize. The preparator and victims of such an act could be of any gender be it males, females, or transgender. It includes sexual jokes, comments, gestures, sharing pornography, inappropriate touching, and sexual messages. Even though it is a serious offense it is not so obvious, for instance using inoffensive gestures accompanied by a sexual tone of voice, is generally masked by mild banter. However, if this makes you feel uncomfortable you should report it to higher authorities immediately.

Impacts of Workplace Harassment

The effects of workplace harassment can include physical and psychological health problems which do not leave you when you leave the workplace. They include anxiety, high blood pressure, panic attacks, chronic stress, ulcers and insomnia. 

Workplace harassment also affects a person emotionally and cognitively. People who experience workplace harassment experience an incapacity to concentrate on work and other tasks, they feel a loss of self-esteem, have diminished decision making ability and experience lower productivity. 

They don’t only lose the motivation to work but also the time to earn as they are preoccupied with defending themselves, avoiding the abuser, trying to attain social support and planning how to cope with their circumstances. The targets of workplace harassment may also feel a sense of absolute isolation, powerlessness, disorientation and helplessness. 

How to Report Workplace Harassment?

The human resource department generally deals with such sort of cases, the employees should not hesitate to approach them on such occurrences. The lack of physical evidence should not deter you because generally in such scenarios there is not a lot of physical evidence. If you take charge and report then other employees who might be facing such circumstances by the same preparator and this helps the HR to gather evidence.

These are some of how you can deal with workplace harassment:

  1. Try to approach the harasser calmly and ask them to stop directing such behavior towards you. However, if this is the case of physical or sexual harassment then do not approach the preparator.
  1. Consider escalating it to your HR or manager and report such behavior if the preparator doesn’t pay heed to your attempts to resolve the situation. Approach the HR directly if the manager is the harasser and provide some sort of evidence such as text messages or eye witness accounts to make your case strong.
  1. If the HR and the manager are not able to provide a satisfactory solution to your problems then try approaching NGOs or higher authorities who will help you fight for your rights as a worker and an employee.

How To Deal With Workplace Harassment

Here are a few pointer on how to identify and deal with workplace harassment:

  1. Speaking up is perhaps the most essential step you could take if you are being harassed. You need to be firm in order to discourage such behavior.
  2. Confronting the harasser and explaining them how you felt is often the second step towards curbing workplace harassment.
  3. Document these incidents, jot down the list of witnesses and gather evidence for the same. If it happens repeatedly, if documented, these incidents are easy to report and authenticate and let the harasser know why the complaint was made.
  4. The ultimate step would be to take the matter to the HR, or the management. If the issue persists reporting it to the concerned authority would be the penultimate step irrespective of its effect on your career because at the end your well-being is more important.
  5. Often when the management fails to address these incidents and issues, one could obviously take other routes; report to the top management directly, or go to the media and either these extreme methods often result to a massive shift of the image of the company in the corporate world and can cause disruption even in the top managerial level.

Some behaviors you should not indulge in while dealing with workplace harassment:

  • Try not to retaliate physically as it might just escalate the situation for you. 
  • Do not discuss it with your colleagues as they do not have the power to do anything about it and this just waters down your version if they are asked for an eye witness account.

Workplace harassment laws

The business owner and organization heads must have policies and rules regarding such situations but there are federal and state laws that protect employee’s rights. Along with the preexisting measures taken by the government, a relatively new act was passed by the Singapore Parliament. The Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) was passed on 13 March 2014. It strengthens existing penalties for harassment. New offences have also been introduced such as stalking. This act also provides us with self-help measures, civil remedies, and criminal sanctions relevant to sexual harassment.

A person can seek legal redress and compensation in monetary terms against the abuser under section 11 of the POHA for the following offences:

  • Intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress under section 3 of the POHA;
  • Harassment, alarm or distress under section 4 of the POHA;
  • Fear or provocation of violence under section 5 of the POHA; and
  • Unlawful stalking under section 7 of the POHA.

Even though there are laws to protect workers and work for their welfare. It is the responsibility of the business and organization to apply these and be aware of the worker’s plight so that they can help them. Workers are the most important resource not only of an organization but the society and we need to look out for them.

What is Family (Domestic) Violence & Ways to Deal With It

One of the more enduring ills plaguing society over the course of our history, family violence is not something one spots on a frequent basis but comes in many shapes and forms. Violence is perhaps an intrinsic function of human beings within the microcosm that is society, however, when it comes to family violence, it can be difficult for one to process a narrative wherein the perpetrator of violence is someone who should ideally be a trustworthy figure- parents, siblings, relatives and spouses.
Albeit one might not across stories of people being subjected to family violence as part of their daily routine, it’s a lot more prevalent than we think it is. Moreover, the global environment that Coronavirus epidemic has created has worsened the situation, increasing instances of domestic violence all across the world. Reports of exploitation and abuse by a family member are pretty low due to the socio-cultural norms and alarming levels of corruption or/and incompetence on the part of local law enforcement.

Forms of Family Violence

As stated earlier, family violence comes in many shapes and sizes. In India, women are usually the target of heinous crimes ranging from anything that can be summed up as lethal battery or prolonged torture through physical, mental or economic avenues.

Physical Violence

Needless to say, it is the most acknowledged form of family violence in homes. Tales of physical violence could be fairly sordid, often taking the form of slapping, kicking, strangling, pushing, assault carried out with the use of an object, being threatened with a lethal weapon and in quite a good chunk of cases, having one used on them. In some cases, chemicals namely dangerous acids have been used to abuse and torture victims, with women often being the target.

Sexual Violence

Sexual abuse refers to any situation or event in which a person is forced or threatened to attain participation in unwanted sexual activity. Coercion for engagement in any sexual activity against a person’s will, even if that person is a spouse or intimate partner, is an act of aggression and violence. In some cases, this can happen in family members as well. Unfortunately, there are many incidences of child sexual abuse and in most occurences, it is done by a close family member who may or may not be suspected by an adult or a trusted caregiver of the child. Sexual violence at home is an unfortunate reality that many people, adults and children alike, face without letting friends or loved ones know. 

Emotional violence

In recent times, emotional violence has been gaining more and more recognition from society 

and the courts at large. Emotional violence can be quite a harrowing experience, especially given its subliminal yet corrosive nature. It is often pointed at the victim’s self worth and can have adverse effects on the person’s physical and mental wellbeing. Following are some of the types of emotional abuse: 

  • Verbal Abuse: This involves yelling, insulting, and hurling curses at the victim
  • Gaslighting: This involves manipulation of truth to make the victim doubt their own feelings, thoughts and sanity
  • Isolation: Abusers limit the victim’s contact with other family or friends, and restrict their mobility and movement. They might not let the victim go out and do the things that they normally do. This symptom overlaps with those of social abuse. 
  • Humiliation and degradation: This involves name-calling, public embarrassment or humiliation, and telling the victim that they’re stupid and blaming them for all the toxicity in the relationship
  • Rejection: Abusers tend to entirely reject all the ideas, thoughts and opinions of the victim
  • Intimidation: Abusers will make the victim feel afraid, fearful and threatened. They’ll purposefully say things that hurt the victim. 
  • Financial Abuse: This may involve stealing or withholding the victim’s finances, and not letting the victim work or be productive. This is a form of domestic violence. 
  • Codependence: A codependent relationship creates a symbiotic dynamic in which everything that you do is a response to the perpetrator’s demands and manipulations, at the same time, everything that the victim does is to boost their self-esteem and gain control over you. You may feel very unhappy in the relationship and may have to deal with the abuser’s extreme mood swings and may have to make a lot of sacrifices to please the person that you’re with. 

Again, based on incidences and data, women are usually the victims of abusive derision and degradation, stalking and isolation. It might be difficult to get justice in such cases, but there are support groups and organisations that might be able lend a helping hand and help one navigate through the system in order to ultimately get such crimes prosecuted. 

Consequences of Family Abuse

One in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence (or even both) caused at either home or by some relative outside of home. Domestic abuse leaves behind many devastating effects on the victim, the family, and the community at large. These effects can be personal, social or economic. 

Domestic and family violence is in fact one of the leading causes of death, illness and disability for women. It leaves severe impacts on a person’s physical, mental and emotional health including depression, shame, anger and suicide. Violence and the threat of the same creates a fearful environment at home and destroys the dynamic of a family, which may lead to the break-up of a family. Often, such families move from one home to another to avoid the abuser. Such families have to deal with regular household conflict. Children growing up in such families go through physical and emotional harm and are at risk of developing anxiety, depression and go through constant emotional distress. Their eating and sleeping cycles are disturbed and may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches. They find it difficult to cope with their stress and have a low self-esteem. In many cases, they may even resort to self-harm and may blame themselves for the violence caused at home.

How to Tackle Family Abuse

It is important that society at large attempts to form a support system for victims and greater sensitivity and diligence be imbibed in terms of empathising and helping victims of domestic violence and child abuse. There are support groups and movements which intend to make it easy for victims of domestic violence and abuse to come forth with their stories and seek justice. Following are some of the steps one can take to get out of an abusive dynamic in their families and reach out for help: 

Call 999 or Go To The Nearest Police Post:

You must call 999 if you feel you are in immediate danger. Moreover, the police can provide you with a referral letter to the hospital in case of medical emergencies. From there on, you will be in safe hands. Do not risk your life and health if you suspect you may be in serious danger and seek help. 

Seek Medical Treatment or Examination: 

You must visit the doctor or go to a clinic in case you have been physically or sexually hurt. It is of prime importance to make sure that you are well physically. 

Go To A Family Service Centre:

Social workers at family service centres help you understand how to keep yourself safe and protected from the abuser and otherwise. The abuser may also unlearn destructive ways of behaviour. 

Consider Seeing A Mental Health Professional:

Seeing a counsellor or mental health professional will help you overcome the aftereffects of abuse and take the steps to rebuild a better life for yourself. You will begin to perceive events and experiences as beautiful and lively again, and will accept your past and yourself in ways that will help you lead a good life ahead. 

Go To A Family Justice Court:

You may apply for a protection order to stop family violence, an expedited order if you feel there is imminent danger of family violence against you, or a domestic exclusion order to prevent the victimizer from entering your place of stay or home. You can do this if you are 21 years old and above, however, if you’re below that age, any guardian, caregiver, or social worker can apply for a protection order on your behalf. 

All in all, we all have to do away with the mentality that violence or abuse of any sort is not warranted and no conditions or motives can act as justification for the same. 

Impact Of Counselling

Suffering in silence only serves to exacerbate and prolong the circle of violence and abuse. It is incredibly difficult to compute and share one’s experiences and talk about them. Counselling can provide a suitable environment to slowly process, share and ultimately step out of the shell one is pushed into by incessant exposure to cruelty. 

Through a structured framework, one can come to terms with what has happened and look beyond the walls erected by the isolation and hopelessness that comes with living with a violent, abusive member of the family. It is important that one realizes that such experiences cannot and will not define their life, and having someone dedicated to provide helpful support can be cathartic and have a positive impact.

Anger Management

Anger is an extreme or intense emotional response to a perceived threat, harm, or a provocation. It is accompanied by strong physical manifestations that can prove to be detrimental to health if experienced strongly and frequently. Anger, on its own, is a normal and in fact healthy human emotion. However, when it gets out of control and  becomes a destructive emotion, it can have a severely negative impact on all areas of life, including work, social life, family, health, etc. 

What is Anger Management? 

Anger management refers to a process through which an individual starts understanding his or her stressors and learns new tools and techniques that help him or her curb their temper and react in a socially appropriate manner to situations that earlier were difficult for them to handle. They may even learn how to handle these situations in a constructive and positive way.

This helps the individual suffering from anger issues decrease anger and replace this destructive and negative response by healthier responses. This can be done with the support of a mental health professional.

Effects of Anger

Anger can have a very bad impact on your health. The flow of stress chemicals and metabolic changes that are associated with anger constantly flood our system. This can prove to be detrimental for one’s health. Following are some of the short term and long term health problems that are linked to anger issues: 

  1. Headaches
  2. Digestion issues, pain in the abdomen
  3. Depression
  4. Insomnia
  5. Anxiety problems
  6. Eczema and other skin problems
  7. Cardiovascular problems
  8. Heart attack
  9. Stroke
  10. High blood pressure

Not knowing how to calm down from anger and how to control anger can lead to many other problems as well in the spheres of a person’s social life and career. Constructive criticism at the workplace, creative differences, debates with colleagues become triggers for a person who has anger issues. They alienate themselves from their managers, clients and supervisors. At the same time, their coworkers lose their respect for them. They may even face unemployment due to their behaviour. 

Also, not controlling anger properly and letting it seep into your relationships can also cause the ties between you and your loved ones to weaken considerably. Some forms of anger, like explosive anger, can make it difficult for other people to trust you, or be comfortable with you. People may even stop being honest with you altogether. Anger issues can be especially damaging to children.

Overview of Anger Management and Its Importance

Anger becomes a severe problem when every single slightly provoking event begins to anger individuals to an extent that is unhealthy.  Such events could be receiving slight criticism by others, or being stuck in a traffic jam, or internal frustrations due to having a bad day, etc. Then, it becomes a severe problem and anger management becomes an unavoidable and imperative option to consider. 

For anger management, first, the perception about anger is worked upon. Anger should be perceived as an emotion that is neither positive nor negative, it is instead simply a response to the threats in the environment. While this emotional response can often be a good thing as it is considered to be important for one’s survival, it’s still critical to learn how to manage anger.  People with anger management problems do not know how to control their anger, or how to appropriately vent out their emotions. Once the perception of an individual is changed, they may begin to see their environment differently. The same situations that they viewed as threats earlier, they’ll begin to view them as non threatening events that were clearly not intended to hurt or harm them.

Most people believe that anger management is about suppressing one’s emotions and completely rid oneself of anger. However, this can never be a realistic goal. In fact, this may even worsen your anger management problems. The real aim of anger management is not to suppress anger, but to understand it as an emotion, and the message behind it, and express it in a way that’s healthy, without losing one’s cool. Controlling anger and mastering the skill of anger management can take quite some time, patience, practice and work. But, in the end, it always pays off. Anger management will not only help you learn how to calm down from anger, it’ll actually make you feel much better, help you get your needs met, strengthen your relationships, parent your children well (if any), and manage conflict much more properly. It’ll help you achieve your goals and live a satisfying and fulfilling life. 

How to Control Anger

Learning how to manage anger and how to control anger involves learning of some tried and tested strategies. These methods are simple, effective, and some of them can help you on the spot, other methods are intended to help you in the long term. Following are some anger management strategies: 

  1. Relaxation Techniques

Anger can be conquered best by using relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, creative visualization, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, etc. Repeating a calming word or statement and positive affirmations can also help control anger. Yoga asanas are also a powerful tool to help you in controlling anger. 

  1. Cognitive Restructuring: Change The Way You Think

When you’re angry, think of the situation not in negative terms, but in realistic and rational terms. Try to stop telling yourself that the situation is “awful” or “terrible” or that you can’t do anything about it. Such perceptions occur because we’re angry and our thinking gets exaggerated and overly dramatic. Instead, resist thinking in this way and replace such thoughts with rational ones. Remember, logic defeats anger. 

  1. Exercise

Exercising can help you reduce your stress that may be causing you to become angry, and at the same time, it can help you vent your anger in constructive and healthy ways. When you feel that your temper is getting out of hand, go ahead and do some cardio. Go out for a run, or a swim, or do some skipping, or push ups and pull ups, go to the gym or anything that works for you. 

  1. Use Humor

Humor can light up the air in the most miraculous ways. It helps diffuse tension and makes you confront your triggers and unrealistic expectations for how things should go in a way that doesn’t make you flare up. It helps you let go. An important tip, though: you mustn’t try to laugh off your problems, but instead, face them using humor to become more grounded and rational in the way you think about your current situation. 

  1. Problem Solving

Anger and frustration can often be justified and caused by things that are out of our control and at the same time quite disturbing. At these moments in our lives, we need to think using an attitude that lets us handle and face the problem in the most effective way possible. Making an action plan, giving your progress frequent checks, and facing your problem head-on without punishing yourself and giving it your best will help you ease up and control your anger. 

  1. Improved Communication

When someone acts out of anger, they tend to jump to conclusions and such conclusions can often be based in irrational thoughts and perceptions of reality, and can be very inaccurate. When in a heated discussion, first, one must slow down and be mindful of what they speak, think and act. Body language is also a part of communication, so you must keep a close check on the non verbal cues that you’re giving away. At the same time, listen very carefully to what the other person is saying and closely analyse their expressions and gestures. Another useful tip is to always paraphrase once or twice so that you can make sure that you completely understand what the other person is trying to say. 

How Incontact Can Help 

At Incontact, we are a team of extensively trained professionals who have a lot of experience dealing with clients who require anger management. We have helped people from all walks of life, who came to us with different states of mental health. We believe that every individual and his or her journey is unique and thus requires a unique treatment. So, we use an eclectic approach to cater to your unique needs. We do eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and other subcategories of such interventions such as stress inoculation training which have proven to be very effective for anger management. Contact us to book your appointment (both online and offline services for anger management Singapore are available).

We are here to help and listen to your story