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My Dad Defends the Man Who Sexually Abused Me

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Jan 23, 2018

Question

Salam. I was sexually abused as a child by a paternal family member. When I spoke out, my father chose to take the side of my abuser and continues to support him. My father made it clear that he would put his own sibling's happiness above mine and that I should 'forget about it' and forgive him and just go to therapy to move on. I'm not sure he even believes me. I have since broken ties with my abuser who has never apologized and instead made excuses. During this debacle, my father's family slandered my mother (who was supporting me and trying to get justice) to my father, as well as other family members. My father did not stick up for her and even agreed with their vulgar abuse. How do I move on from all this? My heart breaks every time I think about it and I get so angry whenever my father is around. I feel that he betrayed me and my mother and I can't seem to move past him defending my abuser and his family over their actions. I just want to heal and let go of this pain and I can't seem to. Every time I feel as if I can forgive, my father, disrespect my mother's somehow and I get angry all over again. He and I were never close and although he is a decent contributor to the family financially, he expects my mother to work full time and then come home and be a servant to him and also forget about his actions and support him supporting my abuser financially. I am at my wit's end. I don't want to hate him forever, but he doesn't want to change any of his ways and flaunts it in my face that he is still in contact with his family by visiting them and telling us we should all go and visit them.How do I move past this so that I can get on with my life? How do I stop feeling so betrayed and angry? How do I forgive him for not standing up for me? How do I forgive him for not defending my mother? How do I forgive him for how he treats her, especially since he has not changed his ways? How do I forgive him choosing his abusive relatives over me? Jazakallah for your assistance.

Counselor

Answer


My Dad Defends the Man Who Sexually Abused Me

In this counseling answer:

“What you are going through is, indeed, a very big test. However, there are some important things to remember to see the situation in a more positive light. What happened is not your fault. The feelings you are having are normal and you are a brave survivor. In addition, there are steps you can take to assist your recovery by enhancing your coping skills. Finally, and most importantly, you can draw strength from Islamic guidance to help you through.”


Wa ‘Alaikum Salaam wa Rahmatulahi wa Barakatuh dear sister,

Overcoming abuse of any kind is often a long and enduring process. It is made especially difficult when the perpetrator of the abuse comes from within the family, which, unfortunately, is all too commonly the case. To make things even worse in your situation, your father has taken the side of the abuser and that has caused further friction within the family. This places an added burden on you as you try to recover from the abuse.

Now, not only are you facing the challenges that come with overcoming such terrible abuse as a young child, but you are dealing with difficulties of maintaining a relationship with your father too. This could hinder the process of overcoming the abuse. What also makes it difficult is that since the perpetrator is from within the family, it is difficult to avoid him.

Given these circumstances, it is understandable why you are facing such turmoil right now.

There are some important things to remember. First, it’s not your fault. The feelings you are having is normal. You are a brave survivor. Furthermore, there are some psychological steps you can take to assist your recovery and Islamic guidance you can also rely upon to help you through.

Not your fault

Often people who experience abuse can resort to self-blame which can further hinder recover by placing an added burden on you. Remember that your abuser took advantage of your vulnerability as a child. Don’t let these events of the past define you. Don’t deny it happened, but don’t let it define who you and who you can grow to be.

You are brave. You are a survivor, not a victim

You are very brave to have taken the step to come out and talk about it. As much as it might feel that maybe it’s caused more problems, it is actually the first step in working towards recovery. Keeping abuse a secret hinders the chance of recovery. Whilst you might have felt better for some time to keep it hidden, eventually, the psychological trauma would have caught up with you in one way or another.

You survived and that makes you strong. The way you frame your situation can hold a lot of weight on how you cope also. Focus on the positives and see yourself as a survivor and not a victim. Working to hang this mentality can be incredibly empowering for survivors of any kind of abuse because it changes the whole way that you view things.

The feelings you are having are normal

It’s ok to be angry and sad. These are normal responses. Allow yourself to feel them and don’t push them away. It is difficult, but allow yourself to explore the emotions you are going through. You could keep a journal, for example. This will enable you to accept the emotions more and deal with them in a healthier way. Often people who experience such abuse and push the emotions aside end up enacting their emotions in some other dysfunctional way that can cause various problems. Many people report that a very useful way to explore their feelings is to write them down, either in a journal, or something else and then destroy it at a later date, or immediately even. Alternatively, attending therapy can also be a useful way to explore these emotions in a controlled and guided environment.

Seek therapy

It will take time and require ongoing help so seek counselling and be patient with it. Don’t expect to attend a single session and to be cured. It will take time, but with patience in sha’ Allah you can successfully recover and lead a fulfilling life.

Explore effective coping strategies

In the meant time, in case you have to wait to natter therapy, there a few strategies you can try to help you to cope with the psychological trauma you are going through at present.

Physical and psychological self-care. When going through trauma, it is easy to neglect taking care of ourselves. This can only make things difficult to deal with. So, be sure to take care of yourself by eating well, keeping a healthy sleep pattern and taking some time to exercise; a strategy that will naturally boost your well-being due to the chemicals released.

Journal. As mentioned previously, this can be a useful way to explore your emotions openly and in depth.

Hobbies. This can give you back that sense of control over something. People who have been abused often lose that feeling of control. Taking part in some kind of a hobby of your choice in your own time gives you back that control over something in your life. This can serve as a source of strength and empowerment.

See it as a test from Allah

You may be left feeling “why me?” in a situation like this where it seems there are so many things making your life so difficult. Remember that Allah is the most Wise and there is much wisdom behind why you are facing this. We can look to the Qur’an to seek solace in this case.

Allah knows you are strong enough to cope.

‘Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.” (Qur’an, 2:286)

You will be rewarded for your endurance. Allah is confident that you are strong enough to endure this trial, and surely, it will come with many rewards. If not in this life, then the next.

‘Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion’ (Qur’an, 5:20)

Focus on the Hereafter. Remember what’s most important. Your patience will be rewarded. Allah is watching everything. He knows what you have faced. Focus in the rewards of the Hereafter rather than the punishment of this life.

Allah will judge him. It may be frustrating to see that justice is not being done and continue to stand by his side, but ultimately and most importantly, Allah will be his judge at the best of times.

Salam,

***

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.

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About Hannah Morris

Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)

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