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Beaten in Public: I’ve Been Abused My Whole Life

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Apr 25, 2017

Question

As-Salamu Alaykum. I have a very disturbing story. I am a jobless and friendless man with few relatives who don’t care much about me when I approach them. I am bald and underweight; I am only good at English. I still ask money from my parents and sisters. I was always abused by everyone because they thought I was retarded. People used to bully me and make fun of my reactions when I responded by screaming or begging them to stop. Recently, I was caught, my shirt was removed and I was beaten in public by a store owner and his men. I had to beg for my life and dignity for about 45 minutes or so. I thought I was going to be stripped naked and beaten to death. All I did for such punishment was that I talked to the owner in a bad way because he was ignoring me and didn’t even give me proper change and shooed me away. I believe I received very disproportionate punishment. This has been the case in all my life. I just want to know whether Allah is really angry with me because I am a retard, or I am just not a worthy man. I am very scared of everything nowadays. Thank you for your answer. Allah Hafiz.

Counselor

Answer


Beaten in Public: I’ve Been Abused My Whole Life

Answer:

As-Salamu ‘Alaikum brother,

Thank you for writing. I am very sorry to hear of your situation and I am especially sad to hear of the abuse you went through. You brought out several points which I feel may contribute to your hardships. These points are low self-esteem, feeling you are “retarded”, having a small family, being jobless, and having no friends.

The question I would like to know is who declared you “retarded”?  Was it a doctor? Was it based on scholastic tests or were you just labeled that by mean people throughout your life? While you did not state whether you were diagnosed with a learning disability or impaired intellect, based on your writing skills and the way you express yourself, it does not appear to me that you are “retarded”. In fact, you may be quite intelligent as you stated you are good at English. Not everyone has the ability to learn a language!

Reading your question and looking at your concerns, I would, first of all, suggest working on your self-esteem. While it appears you have been abused and rejected all your life, in sha’ Allah brother, you will find the strength to overcome the ramifications of this abuse and start respecting and loving yourself. I want you to reflect on your life and focus on any good and positive things that happened to you and write them down.

Next, I would suggest in sha’ Allah that you do some inner reflection regarding the person you know you are. List all the good things about yourself no matter how small they are. Also, make a list of things you would like to change and set goals for yourself and list the steps you need to take to accomplish them. I would like you to review these daily for positive re-enforcement. Perhaps, you are interested in English and in sha’ Allah can make a career from helping others learn it.

You indicated that you “are bald and skinny”. Many men at your age begin to bald and some even shave their head bald because being bald is also a “hair style”. A lot of men like it and it looks nice. So, being bald is not a bad thing, brother; it is the matter of how you perceive it. As far as your weight, if you feel you are too skinny, you can always change that in sha’ Allah by exercising to build muscle and strength as well as eating foods which will bulk you up.

What you wrote raises many issues and concerns. While you did not provide a lot of information, I am wondering if you were homeless or staying with family. At what age has the abuse as a child started? Have you finished school? Do you have any symptoms such as not being able to sleep well, feelings of unreality and anxiety, or paranoia? Have you ever see a counselor or been hospitalized?

Based on the limited information you gave, I would suggest seeing a counselor if possible. I am concerned about possible C-PTSD (Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from the abusiveness in your life, possible depression as well as anger management issues. I am concerned with your reaction of cursing the store owner as well as possible ongoing generalized anger outbursts which, based on your treatment by others and the abuse you have gone through, is no surprise you feel angry, hurt and desire to lash out. However, there are other ways to address your feelings of rejection and anger which a counselor could help you with better than I as I suggest long term counseling to root out your issues, heal, and begin a new life with joy.

Psychcentral states that “The essential psychological effect of trauma is a shattering of innocence. Trauma creates a loss of faith that there is any safety, predictability, or meaning in the world or any safe place in which to retreat. It involves utter disillusionment. Because traumatic events are often unable to be processed by the mind and body as other experiences are, due to their overwhelming and shocking nature, they are not integrated or digested. The trauma then takes on a life of its own and, through its continued effects, haunts the survivor and prevents normal life from continuing until the person gets help. Risk factors for PTSD include lack of social support, lack of public acknowledgment or validation of what happened, vulnerability from previous trauma, interpersonal violation (especially by trusted others), coping by avoiding — including avoiding feeling or showing feelings (seeing feelings as a weakness), actual or symbolic loss — of previously held beliefs, illusions, relationships, innocence, identity, honor, pride.”

Additionally, six clusters of symptoms have been suggested for diagnosis of C-PTSD are alterations in the regulation of affect and impulses; alterations in attention or consciousness; alterations in self-perception; alterations in relations with others; somatization, and alterations in systems of meaning. Difficulties regulating emotions including symptoms such as persistent dysphoria, chronic suicidal preoccupation, self-injury, explosive or extremely inhibited anger (may alternate), or compulsive or extremely inhibited sexuality (may alternate). Variations in consciousness include forgetting traumatic events, reliving experiences (either in the form of intrusive PTSD symptoms or in ruminative preoccupation), or having episodes of dissociation.

Further symptoms can be changes in self-perception, such as a chronic and pervasive sense of helplessness, paralysis of initiative, shame, guilt, self-blame, a sense of defilement or stigma, and a sense of being completely different from other human beings; varied changes in the perception of the perpetrator, such as attributing total power to the perpetrator (caution: victim’s assessment of power realities may be more realistic than clinician’s), becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, including a preoccupation with revenge, idealization or paradoxical gratitude, a sense of a special relationship with the perpetrator or acceptance of the perpetrator’s belief system or rationalizations. Alterations in relations with others include isolation and withdrawal, persistent distrust, a repeated search for a rescuer, disruption in intimate relationships and repeated failures of self-protection; loss of/changes in one’s system of meanings which may include a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair.

If we look at the risk factors for PTSD/C-PTSD, we can see you possess many, including but not limited to lack of social support, lack of public acknowledgment that abuse occurs and it is wrong (in fact you alluded to the fact that the community accepts and participates in your abuse), loss of faith that nowhere is safe, alterations in relations with others, repeated failures of self-protection, and many more. I have included this excerpt brother so in sha’ Allah you may view it with an open heart and possibly identify more symptoms that may pertain to your situation.

To address your question about “is Allah (swt) angry with me”, I am going to respond with the abuse and mistreatment you have suffered in life. No, Allah is not mad at you and Allah loves you, brother. Please remember these hadith:

“A Muslim is not afflicted by hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression—even if pricked by a thorn—but Allah expiates his sins because of that” (Bukhari)

“And My Mercy embraces all things” (Quran 7:156)

So my dear brother, know that Allah (swt) does love you; He is Most Merciful and Most Forgiving. I suggest you also pray to Allah (swt) and ask for guidance, forgiveness, protection and ease. Make du’aa’ asking Him to help you in your journey towards healing and living a happy, meaningful life based on our beautiful religion of Islam.

While you did not mention if you attend masjid, I would highly suggest you do. You will receive many blessings in sha’ Allah and have the opportunity to make friends with brothers there for support, encouragement and social activities.

Finally, I hope you will seek to counsel there, brother. Know that you are valued and you are loved and hold on to the rope of Allah (swt) for it is every believer’s lifesaver.

Salam,

***

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About Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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