Support groups – a safe haven for women

By Sanobar Nadir
Tue, 12, 22

Occasionally, even the thought of hurting their loved ones keeps them from sharing their worries....


Have you ever wondered why you feel better after talking to a loved one when you are feeling low? The answer is very simple: you are letting out the emotions that are bubbling inside you. Verbalising your feelings is a great way to release your pent-up emotions.

For ages, speaking to your friends, family, or loved ones has been encouraged when you are struggling with anything. When you voice out your troubles or emotions, it helps release the tension that is brewing inside you. It becomes the source of relief from suffocation caused by bottling up your feelings, which in return allows you to perceive things with a clear mind. But what to do when you don’t have anyone you can turn to for solutions or when you are afraid to speak about your feelings because you fear the judgment of others? Even though both males and females face these similar situations, females tend to suffer more when it comes to sharing their issues for various reasons. Sometimes societal pressures force them to be quiet, or sometimes the fear of being judged compels them to suffer silently. Occasionally, even the thought of hurting their loved ones keeps them from sharing their worries.

With the rise of social media, we have also witnessed the rise of many virtual support groups. For instance, Facebook has hundreds of support groups connecting people globally over their shared interests, hobbies, or passions. Similarly, many groups allow people to share their thoughts or struggles with other members. The idea of these groups is to give their members a platform where they can ask, help, or share. Sometimes a simple interaction is what we are looking for with like-minded people, and these groups fulfill those needs as well by helping us connect with people from anywhere around the world.

In most women support groups, females bond with each other over their struggles and also lean on each other for support. Some of these popular support groups have millions of members, which indicates that these groups are making a difference in the life of their members in some way and have an impact on them.

Hirah Siddiqui, a member of one of many women support groups on Facebook, considers these groups a saviour, as these groups give women an opportunity to vocalise their problems and vent out their frustration which is something women in our society find challenging to do. “You find women from all walks of life who give you advice that helps you deal with any problem more efficiently,” says Siddiqui.

While Syeda Zofishan Fatima highlights that these groups are not just a medium on which women share their stories, problems, or negative experiences, these platforms have also become a means of supporting other women by helping them recognise their talent and encouraging them to follow their passion. Sometimes it isn’t easy to share what you are going through, as some people are conditioned to internalise their feelings rather than speak about them. Although things are changing, it can’t be wholly denied that certain things are expected from women in our society, and repressing their emotions is one of those.

Maryam Abbasi finds these groups as a source of comfort and encouragement. She describes such platforms allow women to share anonymously without worrying about people finding out about their identity and help them deal with the issue by providing them effective solutions. Women turn to these groups for emotional support, which they lack in their lives. These groups also play an essential role in empowering women as they inspire and motivate them while sorting out their issues and problems. Farhana Khan Niazi appreciates how these groups benefit housewives, connect with the world and educate them.

Every coin has two sides, and so do these groups. While discussing the positive aspects of these groups, we can't ignore the dark side of such groups. While on the one side, these groups provide an outlet for women to discuss their problems; however, the downside is that they also somewhere detach them from the important people in their lives. Even women who have someone to talk to, prefer virtual friends and groups over their real-life relations, which creates a distance between them and their loved ones. “I think these groups can’t replace real-life relationships. I believe that if one has real sisters, cousins, or friends, no other support group can replace them or match them,” opines Sundas Rana.

“While many women feel that sharing their struggles and problems in these groups allows them to release stress and offers relief, I feel these groups have a negative impact on the mental health of many others,” Muniza Allana expresses her displeasure as she shares her experience as an ex-member of these support groups. “When women share tough times and difficult situations in their lives, other women reading those stories constantly appearing on their timelines, see depressing, sad realities of their lives every day, maybe several hours during the day. This depresses an otherwise completely fine person. Women who are fine also begin to relate to such depressing and unfortunate situations, completely overlooking the options open to them,” she adds.

Life is not all sunshine and rainbows, and these groups are not everything positive. While there are many supportive and encouraging members, such groups are not free from the judgemental eyes of the world. “The way some women comment on the other members’ posts is horrible,” voices Rhea. “Women gather the courage to share their feelings, even if it is anonymously, and then people leave insensitive and judgmental comments on their posts, which is downright humiliating. Instead of doing any good, such things do more harm by negatively affecting the poster, pushing her more into her shell,” she elaborates. Even though these support groups have downsides, it doesn’t take away the fact that these groups make a difference in others’ lives. People seek support from each other, receive sound advice, and learn from each other mistakes and experiences. Such groups not only benefit the active members and posters, but in a way, they also assist people who are silently dealing with their problems as they find their answers by reading about similar situations. Moreover, life-long friendships are also formed because of these support groups among people they wouldn’t have met in real life.