By: Narges, Counsellor Trainee, SOLS Health.
What comes to mind when you think of the word “family”? Blissful? Valuable? Secure? Supportive? Such terms paint the family as a harmonious unit, where each and every member is able to feel loved, safe and secure.
Sadly, this is not the case for everyone, specifically for those who have experienced domestic violence at the hands of a family member, or loved one.
A Survivor’s Story
It was the 1st of March, a Sunday. Sara *false name-identity protected*, dashed into the therapy room, looking completely disoriented.
She was crying uncontrollably and even had a hard time breathing. Her 4-year-old child was standing by the door, staring at his mother in dismay. Sara had a big bump on her head. A corner of her lip was bleeding and there were several bruise marks on her face.Eventually Sara found the strength to reach for her son and took him into her arms.
“I can't take it anymore.. Please help me..” she whispered softly.
Sara had been physically tortured and abused by her husband throughout their marriage.Her husband had attacked her with whatever he could find in the house and hit her in front of their child. Because of this, her child had been living in constant fear in their own home. Having no choice, she had to physically sacrifice herself in order to protect her child from the brutality exhibited by her husband. Sara had no place to go and no money to build a life for herself and her child. She was exhausted and depleted. She had no determination left to move forward with her life, due to the trauma of continued abuse.
Realities of Domestic Violence
This is Sara’s story, however, there are countless women and children experiencing a similar horrifying experience.
Compared to statistics over the past few years, there has been a worrying surge of domestic violence taking place globally in recent months. With more people being confined to their homes under movement restrictions to contain the spreading of the coronavirus, the number of cases of domestic violence has also increased, with the incidence of abuse being more frequent, more severe and more dangerous.
Malaysia witnessed a spike in the number of domestic violence cases following the Movement Control Order (MCO), based on data gathered from the Women and Family Development Ministry and NGOs involved in rescue and support efforts for domestic violence victims. According to the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), the implementation of the MCO led to an overall 44% increase in calls received from distressed women.
Continuous exposure to violence in the home often results in lifelong physical, mental and emotional trauma for victims, if left untreated. Victims often experience stress and anxiety, lack of self-esteem and trust issues to build new relationships.
It is not only adults who are affected- studies have shown that domestic violence also leaves long-term impacts on children. Child survivors have a higher risk of developing emotional dysregulation issues such as perpetual aggression, social withdrawal and poor concentration. These problems, if not properly addressed through therapy, may last well into adulthood, where individuals who have experienced domestic abuse in their childhood may end up experiencing difficulties making peace with their past and moving on with their lives.
Empowering and Healing Survivors
Based on statistics, one out of 10 women and four out of 10 children in Malaysia will go through similar violence in the home meted out to Sara and her child. Without proper redress and support, the trauma of domestic violence is difficult to recover from, and can be a crippling force in the lives of victims.
Acknowledging the crucial need for better access to support for domestic violence, SOLS Health kickstarted a fundraising campaign to help provide therapy sessions and support programmes to domestic violence survivors living around the Klang Valley, to aid them in their recovery process. .
Under our BRAVE (Building Resilience, Acceptance, Valiance and Empowerment) programme, women and children who have experienced domestic violence are given appropriate care and psychotherapy support, to help them heal from their trauma and improve their emotional and mental wellbeing. Alongside this, BRAVE also supports social workers and mental health service providers who work with families affected by domestic violence, by providing trauma-informed training to enhance their skills in treating survivors of abuse.
Through the BRAVE programme, we hope to create a safe space for survivors to process their traumatic experiences, while also helping them to restore courage and learn resilience and coping skills, that they may be able to move on and rebuild a life that is filled with hope.
We invite you to donate and join us in combating domestic violence. Why hurt when we can love, and why ignore when we can help?