At that time I was in secondary three and felt immense pressure from school, especially from my CCA batch-mate’s hurtful words. I was unable to concentrate and fell behind in my studies.
There were also frequent quarrels at home. I broke down after many years.
I was surprised by the psychiatrist’s shocked reaction when I told him about the violence at home.
All along, I thought my father’s violence was normal and happened in other families. Shortly after starting therapy, I began having flashbacks of being sexually abused by father. As more memories returned, including my struggles and screams, I began acknowledging all that had happened to me.
My psychiatrist did not immediately report the abuse to the authorities. The violence continued. Father hurled objects such as a ladder, bamboo poles and chairs at us. He would also tell me how useless I was because I am not a boy.
The next year, I started experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. I attempted another suicide; the final push to act on it came after my father touched me again.
In the hospital, the child protection officer agreed that I should live in a home. She arranged for me to be at DaySpring RTC. I arrived at DaySpring RTC on my 16th birthday.
I continued having suicidal thoughts but the staff never gave up on me and continued to work with me even as I told them to just give up. They remained understanding and patient.
DaySpring RTC turned out to be a strong pillar of support, helping me through many difficult times such as when my father passed away and during my ‘O’ Level examinations.
I learnt that life is really unpredictable and we should not take things for granted. I took my own mental health and well-being for granted. I never imagined I would ever be diagnosed with depression.
Surprisingly, when I saw my father for the first time after entering DaySpring RTC, I was not angry at all. I felt at peace. I realised I had forgiven him. I told him that I believed he was a good person deep down.
I understood: it is through forgiveness that we free ourselves and others from the invisible shackles that once held all of us down.”