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Abusive Father & Critical Husband: I’m Depressed

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U

Reply Date

Aug 12, 2017

Question

As-Salam Alaikum. I'm a working woman with 3 kids and pursuing my doctoral degree at the moment. I've been exposed to domestic violence since my childhood; my father used to beat up my mom. Being the eldest child and only daughter with two younger brothers, I went through a lot of mental trauma to the extent that once I even tried to cut my veins but couldn't do it. Another time, I took a heavy dose of a medicine I found in the medical box at home, but it didn't work. Nobody got to know about it. When I grew up, my father would beat me up too, would scold me publicly despite that I'd never let him down. I never had any boy friends and I had always been a topper in studies. The time passed and my parents married me off to a guy from our cast, although I wanted to marry someone else. I always wanted to have a blissful marriage, but my dreams were shattered. I had to live in a joint family system which I never complained of despite having problems. I was insulted, humiliated and cursed on so many times but my husband never protected me. My husband would love me only when he needs me physically, else he wouldn't be bothered much about me and my kids. I've gone through so much in my life before marriage and now in 12 years of marriage that I've lost hope. My personality has been distorted to an extent that I hate myself. Every day, I feel more hurt, and I think about ending my life but when I look at my kids, who are just 9, 7 and 3 years old, I can't do it. There are days when I think these kids deserve a better mother as I tend to shout and scream at them all the time. I can't control my temper now. My husband always complains that I've made his life hell, and I fear I'll make my kids’ life hell. I don't know why Allah created me. I cannot sleep at night. I was fond of cooking and decorating my home but lately I've lost interest in everything. I feel numb all the time. I don't pray because I think Allah hates me and also because I'm too embarrassed by who I've become. I can't commit suicide as I am too weak for that. Do you think I should ask my husband to marry someone else who can comfort him, be a good wife and a good mother? I just want to be lost somewhere in this world never to be found again.

Counselor

Answer


Abusive Father & Critical Husband: I’m Depressed

Answer:

As-Salamu ‘Aleikum,

Thank you for reaching out to us with your problem. We’ll try our best to help you, in sha’ Allah.

First and foremost, children need a safe and secure home free of violence, and parents who love and protect them. From what you have described, it sounds like you have had a very tragic childhood and hard time in your parents’ home, and we are sorry to hear about that.

Domestic violence in the home affects all the family members. Anytime a mother is abused by her partner, the children are also affected. What hurts the mother hurts the children. You being the oldest child maybe felt guilty that you could not protect you, mother, every time your father hit her, and that can lead to stress, confusion, fear, anger, and shame in the child. Your trauma in the childhood is a normal effect of this experience. Being suicidal is also something children do to escape from the tragic reality they are living in.

Your father should not hit you or your mother, which is not only forbidden according to the human rights but also Islamically. Islam requires that husbands treat their wives with respect, and it prohibits any form of physical or emotional abuse. The Quran requires that spouses treat each other with love and mercy. (Quran 30:21). Moreover, the Quran repeatedly warns against the use of injurious statements by a husband against his wife. (Quran 58:2-4). Your dad did not only do wrong by abusing your mother but also you. Islam prohibits all forms of oppression and injustice (Qur’an 5:8; 41: 135; 42:42-43).

From what you are describing your thoughts, behavior and emotional condition, it looks like you are suffering from postnatal depression. When a person is feeling unhappy, suffers from insomnia, low self-esteem and feelings of guilt, anxiety, and loss of interest in normal activities, it means they are usually depressed. You have all these symptoms, and it is mainly because you have been a victim of a domestic violence and mental abuse from the people you are surrounded by in your present life. You have been suffering from it for so long that you have now started to blame yourself for everything and losing interest in life itself. Your self-image has become distorted, imbalanced for a variety of reasons.

Your father has not been fair to you when you lived with him, and on top of that, you have been in a helpless situation with your in-laws where your husband did not support or protect you. Now, you are living with your husband who is blaming and accusing you of his unhappiness. All the people around you seem to have a power or influence over you, and as a result, you have internalized a negative image of yourself and your life because of the negative and judgmental accusations you hear from your husband. Internalizing means that you accept or absorb an idea, opinion, belief, etc. so that it becomes part of your own. Unfortunately, by doing this, you have developed a low self-esteem which makes you disbelieving in yourself. Suicide is haram in Islam; therefore you must change your thinking to be guided along to the right path.

“And do not throw (yourselves) with your own hands to destruction; but work (deeds of) excellence for verily Allah loves the people of excellence.” (2:195)

“And do not kill yourselves. Surely, Allah is Most merciful to you.” (4:29)

Both verses above indicate that committing suicide is not permissible. One of the reasons it is not permissible is that man is not authorized to kill himself.  The human body is a constructive creation made by Allah. He who has built that structure will pull it down.

You are ma sha’ Allah doing a doctoral degree that shows you are an intelligent woman and capable of doing anything you put your mind to, and Allah has blessed you with three children for what you should be grateful for. Believe in yourself; this way your kids will also learn to believe in themselves in the future. You are a strong woman because you are still there for your husband despite that he disrespects you. Surely, your children are proud of you.

It is normal to get angry sometimes with your children, but don’t take out your stress and anger on them. Our kids push our buttons because they are our children. Psychologists call this phenomenon “Ghost in the nursery,” by which they mean that our children stimulate the intense feelings of our own childhood, and we often respond unconsciously linking the past that has been lost in our minds over time. It is enormously challenging to lay these ghosts to rest. Your parental anger can be harmful to your children in the long term and have negative effects on their personalities, just as your father’s anger has affected you and is still affecting you now. Love_is_pain

Often we get angry with our children because we have not set a limit. The minute you start getting angry, it is a signal to do something. No, not yell. Let’s say you have had a hard day. It can help if you explain this to your children and ask them to be considerate and keep the behavior that is irritating you in check, at least for now. If you think that your anger is starting to take control over you, then try using a cut off mechanism, for example, saying the following in a calm voice to yourself: “I am too mad right now, I am going to take a time out and calm down.” This way in sha’ Allah, you will stop yelling at your children and make a peaceful environment in the home.

Do not hate yourself; you are a creation of Allah, and Allah loves you. You have not done anything wrong. The Prophet (saw) said, “Allah the Most High said ‘I am as my servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it if he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to me walking, I go to him at speed.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari).

You will surely find peace if you start praying to Allah, so do not lose faith.

I suggest that you try the following techniques to improve yourself image:

First of all, talk to yourself the way you talk to someone you care about. What would you say to a good friend who was going through the same you are going through? You would never dare to say negative things to another person whom you care about, would you? Treat yourself good. You are an important and valuable person.

Secondly, recognize that what you believe is not always the truth. Often, people believe what they tell themselves. If you think you are a loser, you may believe it is absolute truth. Catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself. Change it, if not, you can talk back to your negative thoughts. Challenge them. Be defensive to your negative thoughts in your head.

Thirdly, try being happy with the concept of “good enough”.  Many people think they should be perfect – never angry, always generous, never critical etc. These expectations are not realistic. If you are one of these people with too high expectations for yourself, ask yourself: what is good enough?

Fourthly, start praying. If you are hurt and feel depressed, then it will serve as a huge balm for the hurting soul. Praying to Allah can foster feelings of self-compassion and inner peace with yourself, in sha’ Allah.

When you have found self-compassion, then hopefully you will start liking everything around you and your interest in cooking and decorating the house will come back, too.

I suggest you do not ask your husband to marry someone else. I am sure you do not want to share him with another woman. It will only damage your self-esteem more. Secondly, you are your children’s biological mother and no other woman can love them more than you do. Your children need you, and you should not let anyone else replace you.

If your husband does not care for you and your children, then talk to him and find out why. Why is he unhappy with you? You are his wife and you have the right to be treated nicely. Make du’aa’ that Allah makes your husband close to you and your children. Your 12 years of marriage indicates that your husband needs you and you need him. He is probably just insulting you to make himself feel good. Don’t blame yourself. You are not responsible for that.

So, start with yourself by making a strong self-image. This way no one will be able to underestimate you. Be patient and see how things go. Work with yourself first, and do not let your husband’s harsh words affect you so much. Be strong.

May Allah (swt) give you strengths and patience. Ameen.

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About Hadia Ali

Hadia Ali is a 27 years old Pakistani Muslim woman, born and bred in Norway. She has obtained her bachelor's degree in Sociology from Norway. Currently, she lives in the UK with her husband and two children. Email: micha.agr@gmail.com

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