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I Never Want to Talk to My Abusive Family Again

Questioner

S

Reply Date

Mar 24, 2018

Question

Assalam alaykum. I've been having a rough family life ever since I was born really. Some background info: I would frequently get hit with a belt buckle from ages 4-7. The day of my birth my grandparents said," the ground shook and a rat came out" just because I was premature and tiny. Aunts and uncles would tell me when I was young that they didn’t like me and abused me verbally just because I had difficulty with my weight and grades in elementary school. In my house I am the one to be blamed for everything from no toilet paper to dirty dishes. In October of 2014, I hadn't talked to my sister since May of that year because of multiple things she had done to me (physically attack me, cuss me out, call me vulgar names, etc.). On the day of Eid, I came home from the mosque and my dad tried to get me to apologize because I was the one to blame. I kindly said it was Eid and I did not want to converse about this. He got aggressive and kicked me out. As I was leaving, he grabbed me and started punching me to the point where I felt down on the ground and he was kicking me endlessly. I ended up having a seizure and had to go to the hospital for temporary retardation as a cause from his assault (had to wait 50 min to go to the hospital) while at the hospital my uncles, mom, and grandma blamed me and cursed me. I ended up with derealization, personalization, social anxiety, stuttering, and horrible panic attacks. Upon leaving the hospital, my parents went to the bank and took my 5k that I had saved up for a car and insurance. We hardly talk now. Since then I've shockingly become very religious, though I never was. I found it in my heart to forgive them, but I only have one problem: I don't want to talk to them at all and when in sha’ Allah I start attending college full-time, I'm going to move out as my life in this current household is causing many issues for me. I want to know from a Muslim standpoint is it ok for me not to talk to them? I don't want to socialize with them one bit as they haven't even apologized and still treat me the way they had. Would it be haram if I don't talk / socialize with them? If so, how can I limit my interaction with them to the point where they don't affect my life? What does Islam say about issues like this?? Jazak Allah khayran.

Counselor

Answer


I Never Want to Talk to My Abusive Family Again

In this counseling answer:

“I suggest dear brother that you focus more on your careers and goals, socializing with friends, focusing on your Islamic knowledge and growth. Partake in events at the Masjid, community da’wah as well as other activities that are of interest in the Islamic community. Try to spend this time (until you go to college) in building up your self-esteem, re-affirming positive self-affirmations, up-building Islamic activities as well making du’aa’ to Allah (SWT) for ease.”


As-Salamu ‘Alaikum brother,

Thank you for writing to us. I am very sorry to hear of the sadness, abuse, and rejection you have gone through throughout your life from your family. It seems in some families there is one child who is targeted as the scapegoat, and it seems that sadly you were it.

Scapegoating is a serious family dysfunctional problem with one member of the family or a social group being blamed for small things, picked on and constantly put down. In scapegoating, one of the authority figures has made a decision that somebody in the family has to be the bad guy. The mother or father makes one child bad and then looks for things (sometimes real, but most often imagined) that are wrong.”

A scapegoat is also a product of parents who erroneously cannot accept their own shortcomings or faults. They tend to be narcissistic and project their own deficiencies upon the ‘chosen” child.  It seems as if in your case, there is severe abuse as well. As you had to go to the hospital for your injuries, I am not sure what the staff was told at the hospital, but abuse should have been explored. While you are 18 and considered an adult in the USA, authorities still could have charged your father with assault and battery. While I understand you probably do not want to get authorizes involved, you still need to protect yourself from the mental, emotional and physical abuse that is going on at home.

Regarding your parents’ treatment of you brother, AboutIslam scholar states that “Islam instructs us about the way of using physical discipline. We have to avoid the face, sensitive areas, private parts; we have to use physical discipline very carefully in a way that does not leave any marks or causes any pain. It is just a symbol of warning and not a form of showing resentment, as we said.”

What is happening to you is not accepted by Islamic principles, and is against how Allah (SWT) instructs parents to treat their children. In light of this, while you must still be kind to your parents, in no way does that mean you should be abused, mistreated or otherwise have your spirit crushed due to the faults of others. Your goal, dear brother, is to stop being the “victim” and to start identifying the positive strengths and attributes you have. I am quite sure you are a brilliant young man who excels at many things. I am also sure there is nothing wrong with your appearance. Lastly, I am sure that you are loved, not only by your family (although they are dysfunctional and cannot express it) but by Allah (SWT).

Often times brother, we are tested hard, even with our own families, so that we may grow stronger and help others who may have gone through similar. I want you to also realize in sha’ Allah that many children are born prematurely. They also grew up into fine healthy, accomplished adults such as Michael J. Fox, Stevie Wonder, Isaac Newton and so many other brilliant and gifted individuals. You being born premature or “skinny” have nothing to do with the wonderful man you are today.

Brother, I ask you to write a list of all your good qualities and accomplishments. Study them and absorb them into your being. Try not to let the negative whisperings of your family cloud your true thoughts. You are a good person with many fine qualities and abilities. You need to see them, feel them and “walk in them”. Do not let anyone steal the light that Allah (SWT) has given to you.

I suggest dear brother that you focus more on your careers and goals, socializing with friends, focusing on your Islamic knowledge and growth. Partake in events at the Masjid, community da’wah as well as other activities that are of interest in the Islamic community. Try to spend this time (until you go to college) in building up your self-esteem, re-affirming positive self-affirmations, up-building Islamic activities as well making du’aa’ to Allah (SWT) for ease.

Brother, I also suggest that you speak with the imam at your Masjid about what has been going on to seek guidance. If you are not comfortable in doing so, I urge you to join a group or Meetup in your area of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. An Internet search should come up with varying results.

If you feel you are in danger, or abuse occurs again, I urge you to contact a friend to see if you can stay with him. I highly suggest you receive counseling from a local clinician. That person would also be able to put a Plan of Action (POA) together in case you are attacked and need to leave your home for safety. Counselors often have referrals for places wherein you may stay until you leave for college; as Imams or local Masjid may also have resources.

Lastly, while you cannot cut off ties with your family, you can limit your time spent with them via the means suggested above. You are in our prayers brother; please let us know how you are doing.

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.

Read more:

Do You Have Abusive Parents? Here Are 4 Things You Can Do

Abusive Parents: Enough is Enough!

My Mother’s Abuse Makes Me Feel Suicidal




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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