STORIES OF HOPE

“It’s not worth it to hurt myself”

Li Lin’s story

“I am Li Lin, aged 15 this year. I arrived in Singapore six years ago. I entered DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre (RTC) for treatment and recently graduated.”

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“Li Lin” has since graduated from DaySpring RTC. She is reunited with her mother and is doing well in school. She thanks the volunteers, staff and donors for having contributed to her recovery and healing process.

When I was young, my family had financial problems. My parents fought. I was alone at home and took care of myself. My father then went to Singapore to work. My mother and I joined him a few years later. Meanwhile, my father kept changing his job. He was stressed and even beat my mother.

Later, my mother chose to return to China. As I wanted to finish my studies, I stayed in Singapore. I shared the house with my father and an uncle. The uncle sexually abused me, gave me drinks and cigarettes, and kept offering us money to get what he wanted. When I was in pain, my uncle didn’t care. He was ignorant and the abuse was hurtful. Whenever uncle was angry, my father scolded me for not doing anything for him – the fact was, I had, but I just couldn’t tell the truth.

I started self-harming, and did many things to kill myself. A teacher at school noticed I was going through a crisis. He gave me a paper and pen to write everything down. He called my child protection officer and I was brought to the police station. My father and uncle kept calling but I was afraid to pick up the phone. I was sent to the hospital for a check-up and was warded, and later, I entered DaySpring RTC for treatment.

It has been a long struggle to overcome my past. I kept blaming myself. I cut myself many times, once even on the neck in front of the DaySpring girls. After that cut, I began to learn: I realised that it’s simply not worth it to hurt myself. It doesn’t solve any problems.

I don’t self-harm anymore. I tell myself and others: ‘The past is past. Now is the present. Make sure you live in the present fully and positively.’ I hope that those who have gone through abuse can be stronger and not give up – even though it is difficult most of the time.”

 

Carol’s Story

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“I was diagnosed with clinical depression two years ago after my mother brought me to the Institute of Mental Health following a suicide threat.”

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.”

Dorothy’s story

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“I had a past that destroyed me. I was sexually, physically and mentally abused when I was a child. To make things worse, my mum was someone who needed companionship so she had many affairs.”

Life was volatile. I had to find shelter and changed schools every year. I became a person I never thought I would become. I landed up in hostels, and then, the Singapore Girls’ Home. After three months there, I met someone who became my God-sent angel.

Cathy, then a staff member of DaySpring RTC, spoke to me and I could not help but  break down. I entered DaySpring RTC to receive therapy and rehabilitation in 2011.

One day, during a chaotic moment in DaySpring RTC, I felt all my fears drowning me, as if I was pulled into a deep sea. I looked for Cathy, and all I did for the next hour was cry into her lap. I realised I had cried all my fears out.

Many times, I wanted to give up and I never thought I would make it to graduation. On that fine day in 2012, I remember, I had butterflies in my tummy as I stood in front of everyone and shared about my past.

Today, I work as an intern mentor in DaySpring RTC. I ensure the girls follow their planned schedules, practice respect and cleanliness, and I also help them pull through their rough days.

Because of what I have faced, I have an interest in psychology, which is what I am studying now.

I hope to become a child protection officer, so I can help troubled kids realise that someone out there cares for and understands them.