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