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My Cousin Raped Me; I Hate Men

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

May 14, 2018

Question

Dear counselor.

I am a 20-year-old female Muslim. I am a child abuse victim. At the age of 8, I was raped (I don't know how many times) by one of my cousins. It has left a deep scar on my life. One of the major issues that I face is that I have a hatred for men, and I have always found myself being sexually attracted to my own gender. It has been a hindrance in my close friendships with anyone.

About a week ago, I opened up to my closest friend at university about my feelings for her (she already had an idea that I had developed such feelings). I needed her help in getting over these feelings. As a result, I lost the friendship because she considers this whole phenomenon unnatural. A day later, I decided to confide in my sister for all this, only to come to know that she was also raped by the same cousin at that time.

My sister also considers homosexuality unnatural and thinks it is linked to the childhood incident. She claims she has never felt attracted to any man either, but never felt attracted to her own gender. She is urging me to 'realize' that whatever I feel it is not a sexual attraction but just deep platonic love for a friend. Hence, I don't know what I feel. I don't know anymore how to distinguish platonic love for a friend from a romantic one. Whatever it is, as a result of these events, I have been unable to study at all. I attend all the classes but don't understand a word. I am unable to maintain my regular diet, my sleeping patterns are absolutely ruined (I either sleep too much or simply can't go to sleep at night); I keep having headaches all the day, and I feel constantly fatigued.

My friend does not even want to look at me anymore. Seeing her in university everyday and not being able to talk is becoming more and more difficult. I cannot get myself to think about anything else than her. In the past, I have had the problem that I begin to mildly tremble in difficult situations, and my palms begin to sweat. Lately, whenever I see her, it gets very hard to stop trembling. My heartbeat goes really fast, and my palms sweat mildly. I need to know whether such past events can affect a person's sexuality.

I need to know how to move past these events. I have always had problems being a social person, and have had a very few close friends. I lost one four years ago owing to the same issue, and we only became friends again a year ago. I don't want to lose more people. Waiting for your reply.

Counselor

Answer


My Cousin Raped Me; I Hate Men

In this counseling answer:

• Seek counseling from a therapist in your area, preferably one who specializes in childhood sexual abuse.

• Join a support group for survivors of childhood sexual abuse

• Do not disclose to other females that you are attracted to them.


As Salamu ‘Alaikum dear sister, 

Thank you for writing to us. I am so sorry to hear you were the victim of sexual abuse. Sadly, it is a common horrific act of violence with 20% of females reporting that they were sexually abused as a child. In fact, it is a widespread global epidemic.

Many women who were sexually assaulted experience the same you have been experiencing. They have trust issues with men; they often feel hatred, shame, guilt, and anxiety. Some women develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

You did describe many symptoms such as sleep problems, headaches, fatigue, issues with concentration, and “trembling, sweating, rapid heartbeat” when you see your female friend. While it is hard to determine how severe these symptoms are in relation to your everyday functioning, I would suggest, dear sister, that you seek counseling from a therapist in your area, preferably one who specializes in childhood sexual abuse.

Additionally, I would suggest joining a support group for survivors of childhood sexual abuse as it can be a great source of strength and support for healing. It appears that the longer you wait for treatment after such a traumatic experience, the worse the symptoms can get until you begin therapy – your journey of healing. Based on some of your symptoms, you may be experiencing anxiety or panic disorder, along with possibly other emotional disorders as well related to the abuse.

Concerning your attraction to other women, it is my feeling that these are misplaced sexual desires due to the rape. However, a clinician would have to evaluate and diagnose you as I cannot. As you were violated by a man as a child, perhaps subconsciously you have displaced your sexual urges and desires towards females as that is “safer” for you. But I don’t think you are gay.

What is most important right now is that you get the help you need to begin to heal from the childhood rapes. That is the first thing, dear sister. After you begin to sort through and heal from that trauma and become more stable in your emotions and sense of self, and you feel safe again, then I would suggest examining your sexual preferences in a definitive. I think by that time, however, you will feel quite different.

I would also suggest, in sha’ Allah, that you do not disclose to other females that you are attracted to them. As you stated, you lost a few friends that way, and I don’t want you to lose anymore. I believe what you feel may be an identity crisis regarding your sexuality as a result of the rapes. Please, dear sister, get the help you need so you can begin to heal. Keep close to Allah (swt), make du’aa’ that He (swt) grants healing and ease. Know that Allah (swt) loves you and sees everything. No harm comes to us which He (swt) does not deal with.

You are in our prayers,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

Child Abuse Made Me Suspicious of Proposals

Should We Talk about Sexual Harassment Among Muslims?

How to Protect Children from Internet Abuse




About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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