In this counseling answer:
“I know, it might feel awkward or scary to talk to someone about your feelings and problems at home/school. However, you can call them from an undisclosed phone number and tell the crisis counselors what is going on. They are unable to know your location or name or anything unless you tell them. Please, contact them. They are trained to provide help for young victims of abuse, in sha’ Allah, like yourself.”
As-Salamu ‘Aleikom Dear sister,
It truly saddens me to learn that you have been suffering from abuse which led you to develop depression, anxieties, and thoughts of suicide. Unfortunately, many people in your age go through the same as many experiences some kind of abuse from their family and/or peers.
However, you have to know, sister, that you are a beautiful and loveable young woman. Please, do not blame yourself for the behavior of your parents. Don’t think that you are the cause of their abuse. This would further harm your self-esteem and reinforce your depression and anxiety. Be sure that despite difficult times, Allah loves you so much.
As you know, we all go through various tests and trials throughout our life. Allah says:
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient,” (2:155)
However, Allah loves you sister and did not create you to be abused. It is a horrendous sin to abuse someone, especially one’s children who are a trust from Allah (swt).
Why would parents and peers abuse you?
One reason might be that your parents themselves were victims of parental abuse. While obviously not every victim of child abuse will abuse their own child later, such victims have the tendency to continue with the same parenting style they learned from their family, their primary teachers.
Another reason might be that the abusive parents suffer from a mental illness or addiction which leads them to neglect or abuse their child.
The same applies for your peers who bully you. Kids usually bully other kids because they witnessed this behavior in their own family; they don’t get the attention from their parents/ environment they seek; has self-esteem issues and feel helpless, or they feel jealous for the person they bully.
As you have already experienced abuse by your parents, I am not surprised that you’ve become a target of bullying at school, too.
In any case, you have every right to live an abuse-free life.
Seek Professional Help
Although you said you had reached out for help, you felt no one could help you. Sister, have you told any of these individuals your full story? I strongly encourage you that you honestly talk to a professional you trust – your school counselor or a teacher – and reveal him or her what exactly is going on at home. If you want to solve this situation and feel better, you need to do this step.
Maybe as you live in the US the best would be if you called the National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-422-4453. There is another hotline for Muslims in particular called My Help Hotline, 1-8448-HELPER (1-844-843-5737).
I know, it might feel awkward or scary to talk to someone about your feelings and problems at home/school. However, you can call them from an undisclosed phone number and tell the crisis counselors what is going on. They are unable to know your location or name or anything unless you tell them.
Please, contact them. They are trained to provide help for young victims of abuse, in sha’ Allah, like yourself.
Keep yourself safe
While reaching out for help, you need to think of your options to stay safe.
Think of a place at home you can go to in case of a fight, where you can feel safe. It should be a place from where you can make a quick emergency call or at least send a message, for example, to your school counselor who knows about your situation. Maybe even make up a simple code to make the process faster.
If the situation is very dangerous for you at home, is there any family member or a friend whom you could temporarily move to?
How else can you stay safe from being abused at home as well as at school? Please have a Google search on “Safety Plan” to see which options best suit your case.
Reclaim Your Self-Confidence
To battle against abuse, depression, anxieties and negative thoughts, you need to be kind to yourself to re-build your self-confidence. There are many self-esteem booster tips on the Internet. Here are those I really feel they work:
Who are you really?
In the milieu of hurtful words and actions of abusive people around us, we might forget who we really are inside, what are we good at? Therefore, I encourage you to make two lists on a piece of paper: on one list collect all your strengths and on the other collect all your achievements. You said you felt very down, so you might want to ask a supportive friend of yours to help you with the lists. Read them every morning.
Set your life goals
Don’t let these difficulties divert you from achieving what you want to do in life. What are your dreams? What do you want to achieve next? Think of religious goals (such as reading Quran on a daily basis which I highly recommend) as well as worldly ones such as getting into a university. Write everything that comes to your mind, big and small, but have goals that are realistic and achievable. Achieving them one by one will feel so pleasurable, inshallah.
Understand your thoughts and feelings
Being mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and really understanding our own self give us much confidence. The best way to do that is through writing a journal.
“When we are caught up in the “rat-race” of life, we tend to disregard our feelings and keep ourselves busy and jaded. It isn’t until we slow down for some time to let the feelings inside be what they truly are.”
Try to shift your thoughts to the positive. For that, at the end of each day, think of 3 things that made you feel grateful to Allah (swt). It can be as little as a sunny day or eating your favorite cake. You can write these down in your journal or you may want to include them in your du’ aa’ before sleep. It feels so good to end your day with expressing your gratitude to Allah.
Being active increases the level of certain hormones in our brain that will make us feel happier. Try it!
Keep Yourself Busy Outside the Home
Do things you really enjoy. As you feel distressed at home as well as at school, try doing your stuff far from these places. Performing some art is actually healing. (My favorite are the coloring books for adults!)
Surrounding ourselves with righteous companions is essential for our happiness. The Prophet (saw) said:
The example of the believers, in their mutual love and mercy for one another is like the example of one body, if one part feels pain, then all of the body suffers in sleeplessness and fever.” (Bukhari)
Visit the mosque and try joining pious sisters’ groups.
Join groups for victims of child abuse. They will definitely be a big boost for your self-esteem as well as a big help for how to deal with the situation.
Volunteering in an NGO is also a very good way to socialize and boost your self-confidence.
Strengthen Your Relationship with Allah
Dear sister, remember that the prophets were the most beloved to Allah (swt), and even they were severely tested throughout their lives.
I sincerely encourage you to read and study in depth the life of the Prophet (swt) and of prophets in general and find comfort and strength in the trials they went through. You may learn coping techniques, gain spiritual insights, be inspired by their experiences as well as find many amazing stories among the ahadeeth as well.
I particularly encourage you to read Surat al-Kahf every Friday, not only for its reward of reciting it but because this surah is a real faith-booster. It encompasses all those lessons we need to remind ourselves constantly.
Again, please sister talk to your school counselor or call the hotlines and get counseling as soon as possible. This is really important for you to heal!
May Allah (swt) always keep you safe, sister, and help you to have a happier life free of harm and abuse,
Answer supervised by Dr. Aisha Muhammad-Swan
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.