Psychological abuse in relationships: Four women speak

  • TheHomeGround Asia’s newest series, Beyond Within, takes an in-depth look into women empowerment and the struggles that women face, offering ways for women to rediscover their inner confidence through topics such as relationships, sexuality, as well as mental health and well-being.
  • Hosted by stand-up comedian and gender rights advocate Sharul Channa, the first episode of this series explores the experiences of four divorced women, who were psychologically abused in their marriages.
  • They discuss how to recognise the triggers of an unhealthy relationship and to move on from an unhappy union.

The panellists in this episode are author and life coach Carol Gockel, relationship counsellor and clinical sexologist Dr Martha Tara Lee, CEO and founder of Nu Ren (Women’s) Secret Club Christine Looi and dental practice manager Sngeeta (Geeta) Singh, who through their work continue to empower women and improve their mental wellness.

If you find yourself or your loved one in an unhealthy marriage, this episode can provide perspective and tips on how to recognise the signs and what to do next.

Here are some snippets of what you can expect from the first episode:

Voicing out in a marriage

Marriages should mean an equal partnership between both spouses, yet there are many strong women who have lost their voice due to their marriage. They might have put themselves in second place and kept quiet about personal sufferings. 

In this episode, Ms Singh tells us her experience of being in a bad marriage and how it stopped her from voicing out her opinions. She explains, “What happened was, I never had [a] voice. Every time there is something to say, you are then pressed on it… not being able to voice out was difficult… Voicing out and being vocal does not mean that you are debating with someone, but you are putting your opinion across… We should come up to say enough is enough.”

If we continue silencing ourselves in a relationship, it may result in an inward battle that may threaten our health and well-being. Rather than being silent, speak up in a safe environment rather than suppress your thoughts and emotions further. 

Drawing the line

Knowing when to draw the line is important if you find yourself in an unhealthy marriage.

Ms Gockel highlights a societal prejudice around divorce, “It seems like it is always the woman’s fault.” She also shares that her parents had told her that what she was going through was part and parcel of marriage. When it comes to drawing the line in a psychologically abusive marriage, it is knowing that enough is enough and that you need to start respecting yourself and protecting your self-worth.

Signs and triggers of an unhealthy marriage

The four women point out the signs and triggers that made them realise something was wrong in their marriages.

One important sign, share Mses Sngeeta and Looi, is when your spouse stops supporting you. If someone is damaging your self-esteem and not contributing to your well-being, it might be time to walk away. Other signs include feeling isolated, excessive jealousy, deflecting responsibilities and frequent arguments.   

Seeking help

Once you are able to recognise these triggers and draw the line, it is also important to seek help, whether through a therapist or loved ones. 

The panellists emphasise the need to tackle the taboo in Asian communities that says those who have mental health concerns or seek therapy “are mad”.   

Watch the entire first episode of Beyond Within to learn how these four courageous women were able to overcome their struggles in psychologically abusive marriages.

If you are in an abusive relationship and would like to seek emotional or mental support, please do not hesitate to call the following helplines in Singapore:

PAVE: 6555-0390
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
ComCare: 1800-222-0000
Mental Health Helpine: 6389-2222
AWARE: 1800-777-5555
MSF Child Protective Service: 1800-777-0000
Pregnancy Crisis & Support: 6339-9770
The Seniors Helpline: 1800-555-5555

Join the conversations on TheHomeGround Asia’s Facebook and Instagram, and get the latest updates via Telegram.




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