War rape is a historical silent reality since antiquity; however, modern media exposure to the brutal war rapes occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have only recently gained its attention. Members of affected communities often express more rejection of the victims themselves than for the crime. This victim rejection and displaced shame, is evident by husbands, mothers, and communities who reject these raped women. Individual rape portrayed as collective shame is what motivates the present study through the examination of international psychology, feminist theory, and the social theory cycle of shame inducing the need to overcome group powerlessness by rejection of the rape victims. Previous studies indicated empathy, image shame, and self-pity positively correlate with efforts for reparation with an oppressed group.
Cynthia performed a mixed method study analyzing the correlating factors for reparation with Congolese war rape victims with empathy for the victim’s trauma, self-pity for the Congolese perceived victimization from the war, and Congolese image shame due to their role in the war. The results indicated that victim empathy and image shame correlated with motivations to repair or compensate the rape victims; however, feelings of self-pity did not. It also showed a strong sense of victim helplessness and lack of national identity. The implications are that educational interventions addressing national shame rooted in trauma history and collective empathy could influence motivations for reparations. Such implications could help ameliorate community and family victim rejection resulting in isolation, lack of medical and mental care, and the breakdown of society. With these complex global conflicts in Africa, Middle East intertwined with deep rooted national trauma history and perpetrator-victim cycles of violence being an ongoing reality, it is critical to address national trauma history, perpetrator-victim cycles, and empathy in forming interventions. Cynthia along with colleague Dr LeAnn Dehoff is continuing her research on national identity and the meaning of war with Syrian refugees in Turkey.
- Grguric, C. (2015). Collective Shame and Rape as a Weapon of War in the Walungu Region of the DRC. Full study available by request.
"Till death do us part." You'd be hard pushed to find a bride or groom on their wedding day who didn't intend to stick to this vow. But ask anyone filing for divorce and they will assure you that sticking together until death simply isn't an option anymore. So, what can couples do to prevent their relationship spiralling from forever to never?
It's a question that is becoming increasingly important in the UAE. While divorce used to be largely confined to the West, the number of divorces in Dubai among Emirati and expat marriages has risen by almost 25 per cent in the past three years and figures released by the United Nations show that the UAE has one of the highest rates of divorce in the Muslim world, at 46 per cent.
"I've been in the UAE for 15 years and when I first came here, marriages were very different from those in the West. Over time these differences have diminished," says Maria Chatila, a family relationship coach in Dubai (www.bpacoach.com). "In recent months, I've noticed a rising trend in couples with problematic relationships, coming to the UAE in the hope that life will be easier here and give them a chance to reconnect as a couple. But then husbands have to travel a lot and wives are left at home for long periods of time and spouses start to feel disconnected."
If you want don't want to become a divorce statistic, here are eight practical steps to keeping your marriage on track.
1. Spare 15 minutes a day
"Children, life commitments, emotions and past hurts can break down communication," says Cynthia Grguric, a counselling psychologist at Lifeworks, Dubai (www.counsellingdubai.com). "Keep communicating even when you are tempted to pull away. Make time for focused attention even if it is only 15 minutes a day. Be creative, have lunch over the phone together, or go on virtual internet outings."
2. Write a journal
Sit down every evening and write a journal about what you have brought to your relationship that day. "Ask yourself: What did I offer my marriage today? What could I do differently tomorrow?" suggests Chatila. "This will create a change in attitude; instead of thinking about what your spouse can do for you, it will shift your focus towards what you can do for your relationship."
3. Create memories
"Life is a bit crazy," admits Emma McBride, a wife, mother and teacher in Abu Dhabi. "My husband and I both have full time jobs, there's the kids to look after, packed lunches to make, after-school activities to get to and exercise to do. Every now and then I think, when all of this stuff isn't around, will we have enough to keep us laughing and talking? Sometimes I work on making happy memories. We'll go away for the weekend, explore all the exciting things there are to do in the UAE, or just simply go out for dinner, so that someday, when the kids grow up and our jobs are less demanding and we have more time together ... we'll actually have something to talk and laugh about."
4. Use 'I' statements, not 'you'
"Couples frequently communicate in attacking language, making the other person feel defensive and breaking down communication," says Grguric. "Take responsibility for your feelings and stick to: 'I feel ... when ... happens'."
5. Accept that some things get lost in translation
Multicultural marriages can increase stress. "If one person is a native English speaker and the other is not, the native speaker may sometimes find the tone and intonation of their partner misleading," says Chatila. "I often see this in couples' sessions and then we stop and say: 'When you said this, what did you mean?' Sometimes spouses might sound like they're upset when they're not and it is simply a translation issue."
6. Remember, love is a choice
"Westerners often rate marriage according to their levels of happiness, but it's dangerous to make decisions based entirely on our emotions," says Grguric. "In successful marriages, couples realise their commitment is about a choice to love each day. Similarly, our children do not always provoke loving thoughts but we consistently choose to love them even when their behaviour angers us."
7. Send a 'repair bid'
Many arguments happen over text messages where it's easy for miscommunication to occur. "At times like these, one person in the relationship needs to send a 'repair bid' to fix the damage that was done," advises Chatila. "This doesn't mean they're accepting blame, but by simply sending a text message saying: 'I know we've had a challenging day but I'm looking forward to having dinner with you tonight,' you will help to improve relations."
8. Actively appreciate
Before you go to sleep, sit face to face with your spouse and acknowledge something about them that you like. "It could be: 'I appreciate that you took the children to school today' or 'I appreciate that you had a 45-minute drive home in bad traffic and I didn't have to do that'," suggests Chatila. "This will create intimacy, prevent you from going to bed angry, and help you start the following day in a good place."
July 10, 2012
They say "home is where the heart" is. Your heart my physically be here but your real "soul" is back home. The first year of arriving in a new place can provoke many challenges. Like old lovers, one usually compares everything with how things were done or what was normal at home. Making this a habit can set one up to feel the losses of home more and resent the ways of life in (new country). While normal to compare with what you are used to, it is important to change your focus on how much "better" your familiar system was.
Change is hard. Be honest with yourself on what you need or feel. No sense hiding or fooling yourself. You may need to grieve what you left behind before you can really accept and embrace what is being offered to you in your new home. Allow yourself to grief but set a time limit when you will move forward to make the most of your life here. The sooner you can accept and embrace your new system of life the better you will feel.
Know what you need as far as semblance of home and communication with those you left behind. Let others know too what you need for keeping connected- emails, visits, phone calls, skype.
Whether you came for yourself or for some else can matter for how quickly you acclimate to xx. Finding your own place and "mission" is important. This relieves pressure and dependency on your partner to meet all your needs and make you happy here. Take charge of your happiness and think positively accepting what opportunities are available to you in (new country). Accepting the limitations and staying focused on benefits of your new country will help you be more content.
Finally and most importantly it will matter how much you allow yourself to make friends.
Some suggestions to help with finding a community wherever you are in the world:
When the time comes to say goodbye and move on, a mixture of emotions emerge.
Sadness, relief, stress, fear, can all set in. No doubt it is a stressful time, so be kind and patient with yourself as you try to cope. Goodbyes however, never dismiss the impact and significance of the memories and relationships made. The impact you, and others, have had on each other during this season will last forever. Memories last forever too.
The leaving process can be overwhelming so break it into manageable pieces. Start with the practical things first. Make a list of the things that need to get done, prioritizing the immediate and upcoming week’s pieces. People may ask to help you. Let them! It relieves your stress and connects them with the process and with you.
On the emotional side…
Grieving the separation from friends acquired and memories made, is an important process for both the leaver and stayer. Some tips to keep in mind when working through the process is the importance, not only for yourself, but for others you are leaving behind. Everyone has different needs and expectations during this closure and transition. Discuss your communication plan and expectations with those you care about and plan to keep in touch with. Be realistic and honest with yourself on what you expect.
Don’t be afraid to ask yourself, friends, children, co-workers what helps make this process easier. Some need to slip out the back, some prefer parties, others one on one time, others personal reflection, or a memento gift to remind them of you, or you of them. Make sure you communicate with each other on what you both need in the leaving process, to avoid hurt feelings or lack of closure on these important relationships.
Things to remember as we transition…
Remind yourself, children, friends that goodbyes are NOT forever. Memories are!
The gifts we bring to one another in a relationship will never fade. These are imprints that will always be in our psyche.
Now, especially in the diverse travel world, there are many opportunities to meet-up again.
Acknowledge your feelings
Acknowledge how others are feeling; friends, family, children, co-workers. No feelings are wrong – they are what they are, hear them and acknowledge them.
Acknowledge and accept the gains and losses, just as you did when you arrived in Dubai. They are what they are, but just acknowledging them and accepting what is, and thus letting go of what cannot be changed, can bring solace.
Special note for children…
Ask what they need – a party, special gift, things they want to say or do for friends they are leaving.
Develop a communication plan with friends – via email, facebook or skype etc.
Take pictures that they can take with them as reminders.
Make a family memory book of your time in Dubai with pictures and special memories.
Lastly, just as you left your last residence and faced the loses and fears of the new and unknowns ahead, do so now. In every grief process is a new beginning. Accepting and embracing both, are important to make solace with your situation.
This article was written by:
(International Psychologist, PhD)
From Expat Echo Dubai
A new study says we spend an average of 44 minutes a week mulling over regrets. That’s time we should be spending doing something productive, like having fun. Our experts reveal how to stop dwelling on the past and start living in the moment
At one time or another, we’ve all made a blunder so cringe-worthy that even thinking about it makes you sick to your stomach and crimson with embarrassment. Whether it’s jumping the gun in a relationship, mismanaging your money or messing up at work, some clangers can stick around to haunt you months, or even years. But while having regrets is an unfortunate but normal part of being human (even Frank Sinatra had a few, remember?), you don’t have to allow those regrets to hold you back.
“It’s important to remember that regrets arise naturally out of life’s events - unfulfilled expectations, shattered hopes and lost dreams, failures and tragedies, mistakes and misjudgements - and are woven into the fabric of the human experience,” explains Hamilton Beazley, PhD, author of No Regrets. “Regrets are to be expected as part of being alive; they are inevitable. But regrets do not have to be burdensome and they do not have to be harboured. They can be let go,” he adds.
The key, he says, is in making the distinction between learning from a mistake and simply wallowing in self-pity over your stuff-ups. “Mulling over a regret is only productive if the purpose is to mine that regret for lessons learned that can guide our behaviour in the future,” says Dr Beazley. “But if the purpose is to dwell on the regret or live in it, wishing the outcome were different and feeling pain in the present because it isn’t, then the exercise is futile and the time spent a waste.” He adds, “We cannot alter the past, only our response to it.”
Clare Bailey, 35, learned this lesson the hard way after she broke up with her long-term partner, last year. “Matt* dumped me six months after we moved to Dubai together. The sunny weather brought out an outdoorsy side to him that I’d never seen during the five years we dated in the UK. Suddenly, he loved hitting the beach, surfing and camping in the desert, but I was more focused on my job and was working long hours. When I did get time off, I wanted to relax at nice spas, bars and restaurants, not trek around the wilderness, and eventually those differences drove us apart.
“Afterwards, I spent months regretting all those times Matt had offered to teach me to surf and all those camping trips I’d refused to go on. Eventually, I realised, I was wishing I had a different personality, which I knew was a complete waste of time. Maybe I wasn’t the girl for Matt, but it dawned on me that he probably wasn’t the guy for me, either.
“So instead of looking at my flaws, I focused on the aspects of Matt’s personality which weren’t compatible with mine. I wrote a list of attributes I wanted in my next partner: someone who is equally as ambitious as me; someone who prefers city breaks in luxe hotels over slumming it under the stars...Soon a picture started to emerge of the kind of guy I should be going for – and he was the polar opposite of Matt!
“Months on, I met a new guy who matched the qualities on my list – and we’re getting married next year! I can now look back fondly at my relationship with Matt, without berating myself for not being the type of girl he wanted.”Recognising you are not solely to blame when something doesn’t go according to plan, as Clare has done, is key if you want your self-esteem to recover after a setback, says Dr Melanie Schlatter, a Dubai-based health psychologist.
“‘If only I had...’ thoughts can lead to chronic stress that affects everything from your self-esteem and ability to cope with future stress, to your hormonal and immune systems -primarily because there is probably nothing that you can do to change the situation,” says Dr Schlatter. “Allowing yourself to fixate on what could have been is particularly destructive because it suggests there was only ever one correct way to do things. Perfectionists in particular struggle with this, as their expectations are generally so high. To better manage your regret,” she says, “It is helpful if the cause of your regret can be partially attributed to external factors.”
In Clare’s case, for example, her job and change in lifestyle could be to blame, in part, for the breakdown of her relationship.
As the saying goes, hindsight is a wonderful thing. But instead of looking back lamenting the things we wish we’d known, we should acknowledge and appreciate the lessons we’ve learned along the way, says Cynthia Grguric, a counselling psychologist at LifeWorks Dubai.
“Adjust your attitude by looking at life as a journey of data collection and discovery,” says Grguric. “Most of us make the best informed decision we can at the time. Further along the journey, we might gain further knowledge that might cause us to choose differently later. This just proves we have done well in gathering further knowledge and understanding,” she adds.
And no matter how huge the blunder, there is always something positive to be taken from it. “Our past experiences, positive or negative, all teach us something to add to our ‘life library’,” says Grguric. “It is just as important to know what we don’t want as it is to establish what we do want. Ultimately, it’s about learning and growing.”
We asked the experts for the biggest causes of regret (love, career, friendship and money were the biggies) and how to move past when you’ve made a mistake in each of these life areas. Read on to find out what they had to say...
You’ve Lost ‘The One’
You confessed undying love, only to hear the devastating four words: ‘Let’s just be friends’. It’s heartbreaking, embarrassing and mortifying but there are positives to be taken away. Getting past unrequited love is all about appreciating the things you learned from that person, says Dr Beazley. “Loving is transformative. If you truly loved the person, you learned from that person and probably grew from your interactions with that person,” he says. “With a lost love, we can be grateful for the lessons we learned and the gifts we received.”
The most important thing is that you don’t fabricate details of what actually happened – this is as futile as making up stories about what might happen in the future, says Hal Milton, author of Wising Up: Life Without Regrets.
Ask yourself this: how many times after a break-up have you imagined an alternative reason for the split? He tells you he just doesn’t think you’ve got enough chemistry and you convince yourself that it’s really your clinginess/moodiness/those extra five kilos you’ve been meaning to lose that have sent him packing. If you’re ever going to get over your break-up, you need to accept the facts at face value, urges Milton.
“The main cause of regrets are the stories we tell ourselves about what happened rather than just recognising that it happened, and taking the opportunity to learn from the experience,” he says. “It all boils down to understanding ‘the way it is’ rather than how we want it to be. Tell yourself, ‘This is the way it ended’, then get busy doing the next thing. Stop berating yourself and focus on what you’ve learned.”
Similarly, resist the urge to fantasise about the future you could have had together. “Naturally, we imagine that our future with the other person would have been wonderful,” says Dr Beazley. “But we cannot predict the future. Perhaps this person we lost would not have grown with us and the relationship would have soured down the road, when separation would have been more complicated and difficult. It might have been very unhappy, even destructive. Many regrets are built on the false belief that we can see the future and know how it would have turned out if only....” he adds.
You’ve Scored A Career Own Goal
You messed up on a big project and got demoted – or worse, fired. But in order to bounce back from a career set-back, you need to start by being honest with yourself. “Recognise your own mistakes in the situation so that you don’t repeat them. Ask yourself: what are the significant lessons here about your own character, abilities, and behaviours? What do you need to change?” says Dr Beazley.Most importantly, stay focused on the positive. “I have counselled many people through job termination and most often find that if people are honest with themselves, things were probably not working out in the job for them either,” says Grguric. “Embrace the opportunity to take control of what you want from your work life - assess what are the important attributes you want or don’t want in a job and explore hidden dreams you may have put off.”
Once you get past the bruise to your ego, you may look back and be thankful you lost your job because of the new opportunities it opened up. “In writing No Regrets, I spoke with many people who were grateful for being fired because it led them to a new career path that was more satisfying,” adds Dr Beazley. “It’s helpful to acknowledge that what looks like a temporary setback may be a blessing in the long run.”
You’ve Let A Friendship Fade
Time, distance, career and family have all got in the way of what once used to be a friendship to rival Carrie and Miranda. What’s key here is to stop wasting time regretting the hours you haven’t spent with your friend, and concentrate your efforts on building bridges instead.
“One of the biggest causes of regret is not spending enough time with loved ones. The feeling that you’ve missed out on vital parts of your friend’s life can be almost insurmountable for some,” says Dr Schlatter. And that feeling is often exacerbated for expats who have chosen to live thousands of miles away from family and friends.
Julie Drive, 37*, moved to Dubai with her husband two years ago and struggled to move past the life she left behind in Australia. “I was consumed with guilt over missing major milestones back home, like friends’ weddings and births,” says Julie. “And I was angry and bitter that my friends weren’t there to support me when I gave birth to my daughter last year.”
To move forward, you need to embrace your new life in the UAE and stop grieving your old life. “Let go of the past and live in the present,” Dr Beazley urges. “You can’t live in the past without paying a high price in terms of unhappiness, pain, anger, shame, and guilt.”
It’s natural that your old friends will move on with their lives, just as you have moved on with yours. Instead of mourning the old friendships you’re missing out on, focus on enjoying the new friendships you’re making in Dubai. “Letting go of regrets allows us to focus on the present and to use our energy for productive purposes. The anger or resentment of a regret ties us to the past; letting go frees us to live in the present and, if necessary, to start anew,” says Dr Beazley.
This doesn’t mean you have to cast your old friends aside, it’s just about being realistic about how much you can be a part of their lives. “The great thing is you realise there is an imbalance in your life,” says Grguric. “You are the boss of your schedule and prioritising your time.” So set aside time for Skype calls, plan visits home and invite your old friends to visit you in your new home. “Be realistic but assertive in how you manage your days. Carve out the time you want to give to work, family, and friends etc, and stick to it,” she adds.
It’s also worth acknowledging that some friendships naturally fade with time. If you’re the only one making the effort, perhaps it’s time you walk away – and let yourself off the hook. “Some friendships last a lifetime; others seem to serve a specific purpose,” says Dr Beazley. “Sometimes we outgrow our friends and need to move on. That's sad, but it’s important to be open to the world's experiences rather than trying to hold onto something that needs to be let go.”
You’ve Blown Money On Something Stupid
Whether it’s a handbag you can’t afford or an out-of-your-budget car, buyer’s remorse is enough to set you in a panic. How can you move on from the awful feeling that you’ve blown too much money on something frivolous? Firstly, lighten up on yourself, says Milton, and retain your sense of humour. “Laugh at yourself and then ask yourself what the motivation might have been. This is another opportunity to learn about yourself and what it was that made you do it. That way, hopefully you won’t make the same mistake in the future because you know the consequences. Also, move forward by making up for the money you spent - make a conscious effort to spend less this month in order to recoup the money. This Ramadan,try alleviating your guilt by doing something for charity. (visit Dubaicares.ae to find out about volunteering opportunities). “Deciding to do something else to make up for the money wasted will serve as a reminder to be financially responsible and as a sacrifice for the error you made,” says Dr Beazley. Lastly, stop punishing yourself for your splurge. “Enjoy what you bought. You own it and may as well find pleasure in it,” says Dr Beazley. “Nothing is to be gained by beating yourself up over and over. A big part of letting go of regret is forgiveness and sometimes we have to forgive ourselves.”
You’ve Made A Bad Decision
Some spur-of-the-moment decisions can cause years of regret. The secret to moving on is learning to ease up on yourself, says Dr Schlatter. “Instead of saying ‘I should have…’, look at how a certain experience or person might have taught you something,” she says.
It’s also helpful to look at how others have coped in a similar situation, suggests Dr Schlatter. Kim Miles, 36, was finally able to let go of the regret over her teenage marriage when she met someone else in the same boat. “John* and I got married at the age of 19. I was divorced by the time I was 23, and spent the rest of my 20s wallowing in what a mistake I’d made. It wasn’t until I met my current boss Jan, that I was finally able to see the positive.
“Jan had also divorced young. But instead of being ashamed of her past, she wore it like a badge of honour. She was proud of the relationship lessons she had learned early on, and considered herself older and wiser in matters of love. She made me see how much the experience – however painful – had taught me, and I was finally able to move on.”
Learning from mistakes is the only way to move forward, says Dr Beazley. “Learn the lesson in the mistake and apply it to your life so that the mistake has some value to you. Understand that you are an imperfect human being. We grow through our mistakes and they’re part of the human experience. Lastly, accept that the past is gone and recognise that regrets could be keeping you from doing something you want to do.
Regrets? I've had a few...
Four VIVA readers reveal the biggest regret of their lives and how they got over it.
“When I was 16, I impulsively had my first boyfriend’s initials tattooed on my stomach. At the time it felt like such a romantic gesture. But after I found out that he had cheated on me, we broke up, and I was left with this great, big ‘GP’ inked on my torso. At first, I thought about getting it removed, but honestly, I kind of liked having a constant reminder of how young and naive I once was. It was like my own secret reminder to myself to watch out for cheaters in the future. I made the decision to keep it, and told everybody that the GP stood for Girl Power!” Shelly, 34
“I’d been best friends with Tim* for years, and one summer when I was going through a bad dating drought, I started to wonder if we could be more than that. One Friday, after a long day’s brunching, I called him up and slurred down the phone, ‘I love you.’ He was mortified and quickly made his excuses and hung up. Every time I thought about it, I felt sick, terrified I’d wrecked a great friendship. Eventually, I plucked up the courage to explain that I’d only said what I had because I was feeling lonely and vulnerable. That was seven years ago, and we’re still great friends to this day.” Jenny, 37
“When I first moved to Dubai, I was working in a really tough law firm. The long hours and never-ending stack of legal papers in my in-tray, was so overwhelming that I was stressed to breaking point. Instead of speaking up, I struggled in silence, started making mistakes and was eventually fired. I was devastated, but after I’d dusted myself off, I realised that I wasn’t enjoying the job at all. I decided to make a career change and retrained in marketing and PR. I recently started my own PR consultancy and I work my own hours. Getting fired was the best thing that could have happened to me.” Kerrie, 38
“I’d got myself in huge credit card debt to fund my shoe addiction, to the point where the minimum payments were so high, I could barely make rent. I hated the mess I was in so cheered myself up by spending more. When I started getting hounded by the bank over late payments, I knew something had to give. I made a plan to get out of debt: volunteering for overtime to earn extra cash and making a pact to avoid malls. Years on, I’m debt free and have learned a valuable lesson about borrowing. I’m so careful with money these days, that my friends often jokingly call me tightwad!” Julie, 32
Article from AHLAN!