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Women and Depression

Studies worldwide indicate that women are at the greatest risk of developing depressive disorders in their 40s. The vulnerable state, hormonal fluctuations, role-stress, victimization, sex specific socialization, internalized coping style and disadvantaged social status have been documented to increased vulnerability.

Whist the disorder is prevalent, spotting the symptoms are extremely challenging. Women manifest depression by talking about heightened emotions –they verbalize readily emotional distress, sharing about their guilt and shame; they try make themselves invisible so that people will ignore them.

Women with depression tend to conceal the condition because of shame, stigma, fear. Listening attentively to our women friends and noticing changes in their behaviors will help us catch depression at its earlier stages.


Working with OFW Families: Seafarers Workshop

Arianne Blanche, Advocate for Seafarers Wellness under CF Sharp

Working with Arianne through the years has been very very fulfilling. Through her company, CF Sharp, we have been able to enrich many many lives of the OFW spouses left in manila as their spouses work overseas. It is challenging to work with families that have been torn apart by necessity to make ends meet. There is much guilt, jealousy, loneliness, and resentment built up through the separation. The spouses left in Manila take up dual roles of father & mother to the kids; must be able to handle family finances, and must be able to manage in-laws who often judge them. indeed they are our unsung heroes.


Yes, We Can Do More

School of Life Management Team: Planning Workshop for the Beneficiaries

Oftentimes, the problems of the broken hearted appear insurmountable. oftentimes, it feels like its useless to work on things. But, this group of ladies has an indefatigable spirit that keeps giving, giving, and giving. At this meeting, I had pitched a protocol for choosing the right girls to be beneficiaries of the centre. With a variety of disciplines and a heart brimming with love, a battery of tests were decided upon and a new batch of 10 girls were chosen for 2019. God bless these holy souls


The Words That Cannot Be Said

Rape and Incest bring so much shame to the victim that they cannot even bring themselves to say the words. They stumble, hide behind their hair, eat the words, wring their hands…and talking to them about it brings so much pain and fear that they feel their oppressor right inside the room with them.

There are so much hatred and self-blame, so many questions that shroud their minds. For those who bear children from the crime, there is self-judgment for hating the child and hating being forced into being parents with its accompanying responsibilities when they did not make active decisions in this life-changing event.

The way out is through unconditional positive regard for them and the decisions, feelings, and beliefs they may have as they unload their stories and make sense of their new lives.

Woman Being Kidnapped And Abused

Abuse Causes Conflicting Emotions

Most specially if the abuser is a parent or someone the victim trusts, abuse becomes more challenging to accept or come to terms with. It is the betrayal of trust and the disbelief that keeps the victim from healing. How does one come to understand that a person whom they have given their heart and trust to has taken advantage and used their power to hurt ? that after all the love and devotion given, they are treated with such hate and disrespect?


Abuse Shuts People Down

One of the ways victims of abuse survive the ordeal is by shutting down their feelings…numbing themselves to stave the pain away. The victims live emotionless days on end because perpetuators seesaw between kindness and hostility; treating them like objects and showering them with unwelcome attention. Their lives are a smorgasbord of physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual abuse.

When they somehow make it out, they are so emotionally shut down it is difficult to reach them. No matter how sad, hurt, lonely they are, they would rather ball themselves within rather than feel the pain again. Only kindness and empathy break through the steel.

*Image borrowed from the Internet


Abuse Stifles

Abuse works by diminishing someone till they feel so small, useless, powerless to defend themselves. When the victim is weakened by fear, hopelessness, lack of resolve, all out of solutions and fighting spirit —this is when the bully steps in and shows his might.

Sit and imagine the fear of the moment. The torment of thinking ‘what is going to happen next’; the second guessing whether she did something wrong; the feeling of powerlessness of being at someone’s whim; the wishing that ‘maybe this time I will get it right’; feeling of aloneness…no one can help.

The only way out for this broken soul is kindness. The love of kindness that someone extends to help someone out of that hole. Champion them, fight for them…not just stand by and look. Someone to help them dream again and give them a hand reaching their goals. Someone who reminds them of their skills and talents so that they may try again against all the fear.

An avenue that one who was abused can explore is to see the experience as ‘an event that has happened’ and it has come to pass. Understanding that one does not have to give up, only rest; that one can change life through action; that dreams can be accomplished slowly.

*Image borrowed from the Internet


Abuse Builds a Tough Armour Filled with Hate

Surviving abuse takes stamina. You have to be mentally and emotionally resilient,  physically strong, and spiritually powerful. The abuser tortures his chosen victim day in and day out —taunting the victim to fight back, pulling the rug from under them, setting the victim up for failure, removing resources of coping so that they will become mute and inutile.

The ones who come to see me speak of keeping their head down to survive or at least keep afloat. They fight a difficult battle because they fight against themselves and the perpetrators and all those who judge them. And through the fight, they develop a different psyche —often filled with mistrust, hate, powerlessness, even self-loathing.

The armor of hate is pervasive as it colors all their lives. While the deep hate helps keep them alive to survive the ordeal, it keeps them stuck and eaten inside. Once freed from the situation, they try to release themselves from the stench and work through forgiveness but all they feel is self-recrimination for having ‘participated in the abuse.’ That protective armor now becomes a barrier against healthy sex, peaceful and deep relationships. Healing becomes a lifelong process.

May the strong become pliant again so they can live.

*Image borrowed from Psychology Today


Abuse Breeds Fear

For the few stout-hearted women, they find the courage to go against their perpetuators in the court of law. It is a challenging exercise for the victims as their body remembers and reacts to the fear they had lived with for many many years. Their stories, so embedded in their hearts, are spoken in haltingly as if unsure that it happened, the hurt and pain once more well up in their eyes. As they re-live the hell and once more feel the shame, the anger wells up within them and the venomous hate makes them speak viciously –the complexity of emotions shuts them down and depletes them of energy. The utter fear and pain they feel at having to face their perpetuator even from behind jail bars or from across the courtroom keeps them awake at night, zombie-like for the days leading up to the meet-up.

There is hardly anything one can say to help them walk through the pain. They are inconsolable, and no matter how many friends and supporters they have along they way, they walk alone.

For them, all we can do is listen. Receive their pain. Witness for them and remind them of their strengths. They cannot forget in the dark what they know in the light.


Abuse Isolates

Oftentimes, perpetuators isolate their victims in order to control them –psychologically physically, mentally. Their game plan is to keep their victim from people who can help them and as they are kept, they are abused more and more. The life in captivity is heart-breaking: the abusers demand that their victims help them perpetuate their crimes; they are treated with no respect, demeaned, and physically beaten. They are taught they have no rights, they are no good, and that there is nothing out there for them —that there is no hope for them, their life is over. That there is no better than what they have right now.

The hopelessness and broken self-esteem keep victims shackled to their perpetuators. And, with the exposure to hate and violence, they learn only violence as a way of life. Thus, they become angry and violent people themselves especially to those who cannot defend themselves.

Reintegration into society takes so much love and understanding because working with abused victims: they seesaw from being strong to weak; from getting better to backsliding. Healing is a lifelong process

Image borrowed from Health e-news

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Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines

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