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Forgive the Man Who Destroyed My Childhood?



Reply Date

Feb 16, 2018


I was sexually harassed for 10 years (from age 7 to 16 years old). I started understanding what was happening to me when I was 13 or 14 years old. But the problem was that I was being harassed by our servant who has been working in our house even before I was born, so my parents have blind trust in him. I was not so close to my parents; therefore, I didn't find the courage to tell them everything because I thought they wouldn't believe me – and I was right!I told my mother a small incident, not everything. Firstly, she said that it was just my misunderstanding. She asked that boy and as he denied everything, she believed him not me. Everything continued as normal, and I started living with an intense fear of being harassed in my own house. I lost my childish fun and locked myself in my room, but he continued the same thing when I was even sleeping.I told my mother once again. She fired him for some weeks, but then he came back like nothing happened! I will never forgive my parents for this. I am protecting myself on my own till today as that person lives with us until now. As I see him, everything that I suffered from comes to my mind. But now for the last few months, he is torturing me as he keeps asking me to forgive him, again and again. How can I forgive a person who destroyed my childhood and teenage years, and gifted me an endless fear and made me completely lose my self confidence? How can I?Because of him, I lost my peace of mind, my trust on my parents, and no one knows what I have suffered but me! No one can listen to my silent screams in my own house. I have tried a lot to move on and forget everything but really I can't. Please help.



destroyed childhood


As Salamu ‘Alaykum sister, 

I am so sorry about the heinous abuse you went through by your home servant. What is even more horrendous is that when you did tell your mother, she did nothing about it. I am so sorry. Sister, I know this does not help much, but you are not alone. In Pakistan, in 2007 to 2011 “a total number of 10726 children were sexually victimized”. These are cases that were reported. One can only image the unreported cases such as yours. The issue of child sexual abuse is not only in Pakistan but is rampant worldwide. In England and Wales, during the years 2012-2013, there were “18,915 sexual crimes against children under 16 according to the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children”. This grotesque crime against children is a global epidemic. I point out these statistics sister to show you that it is not contained to one particular culture or part of the world, but that indeed there is sinful sickness everywhere. What you have experienced, sadly thousands of children experience daily around the globe.

While I am not sure of your future plans sister regarding education and career, my advice in sha’ Allah is to move out if possible (and if you are able to do so safely) as well as starting counseling. If there are any trusted family members, ask them if you can stay with them. You do not have to tell them the exact reason, but if they are close to you, see if you can stay with them. Additionally, if you go to counseling, your counselor can help you with more resources for living arrangements. There is no need for you to face your abuser daily.

Children who are victims of child sex abuse suffer from various emotional and psychological effects such as depression, anxiety, low self esteem, PTSD, shame, guilt, inability to trust, and more. While you did not state any specific symptoms other than fear and destroyed self confidence, I am sure there are many others. I hear your pain dear sister, your “silent screams”, and I wish I could comfort you somehow. I wish I could erase all the horror and betrayal you went through (and yes, your parents did betray you) and take away the pain and fear you feel right now, but I can’t. However sister, as stated above, I do want you to get counseling. I’m not sure where in Pakistan you are, but dear sister please try to obtain some referrals for counseling in your area from your doctor, or a school or trusted imam. You do not have to tell them what the issue is, and if asked, you can just say career direction or anxiety or whatever it is that will keep you safe, yet get you help.

You will get through this, in sha’Allah. You will arise victorious. However, you will need the support and guidance of a trained professional to help you heal. There is no shame in this sister, and this is not your fault. You have lived through hell, and here you are, still strong, still surviving, and reaching out for help. That takes a lot of courage and I am proud of you. We live in a sick world sister, but not everyone is bad. There are a lot of good people out there who care. There are support groups for child survivors of sexual abuse, please look into one of these groups. It will help tremendously as you can meet with other sisters who have been sexually abused as well. Share your story (if you wish), listen to theirs, learn of resources they have used, new coping skills as well as forming a network of friends who understand you, and ones you can call if needed.

As far as forgiveness, as Muslims, we are told to forgive if we expect to be forgiven. Some girls I have worked with have gone through the process of healing and got to the point where they were able to forgive. You are not there yet. You first need to heal from these horrendous assaults upon your body, mind and spirit, and then worry about forgiving. Forgiving is the highest form that sets us free from the constant anger and hurt that was inflicted upon us. It is not so much an act for the abuser’s benefit, but for ours so we can be free from the painful after effects. But like I said, you’re not there yet; you need to focus on yourself, get to a safe environment as well as beginning the healing process. Just focus on you right now – pray to Allah for guidance and protection; make du’aa’ that justice is served and do dhkir for remembrance of Allah wherein your heart will find peace.

Please contact RAINN for help sister. They have a toll free number, but if you cannot call, they do have an online chat that you can access. Please just be sure to erase all traces off of your phone or computer.

Sister, you are in our prayers, and we love and care about you. Please let us know how things turn out!


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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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