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Removing The Scars of Parental Abuse

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Apr 04, 2017

Question

Salam. My sibling and I grew up in a very unislamic household and were subjected to a lot of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. My sibling and I are all grown up now and have beautiful families of our own; however we have never really gotten over the treatment of our parents. We are very respectful to them and try to be the best we can be with them for that is what Allah has asked from us. My sibling and I have never had anyone to talk to about all that we experienced growing up and we don't feel comfortable speaking about our parents and the secrets to anyone. Therefore, we tend to only talk to each other privately about all we endured and still sometimes endure by them. We feel it is our release to be able to talk to each other about it, but I am always unsure if this would be considered back biting. Our parents are unapproachable, and we would not feel comfortable talking about it with them, for our mother has a really bad temper. Another thing is that I really harbor very angry feeling towards my mother for all that she put us through. I never show this to her face as I would never want to hurt her, but I can't change the feeling of resentment towards her deep down inside. Is this haram? Please, I beg you to answer my question and shed some light on what I am feeling and doing is haram. Salam.

Counselor

and

Answer


Removing Scars of Parental Abuse

Answer by Counselor Attia Zaidi:

Wa ‘Alaykum As-Salaam,

I am not a scholar of Islamic sciences, therefore, I am unable to answer your question from the Islamic viewpoint. I can, however, shed some light on the issue from a clinical/therapist viewpoint.

It is unfortunate that you have had to live through this. I can only imagine how difficult it is trying to overcome these memories when you are unable to approach your mother for any kind of closure. I commend you for being respectful to her as this is within the teachings of our religion. It is also commendable that you are not ignoring your emotions that are signaling anger and hurt towards your mother.Working through these emotions is important as all these emotions are indicators of areas that we should pay attention to and put to rest.

You are still struggling to make sense of your childhood and your relationship with your mother, past and present. I feel that trying to overcome the scars of your childhood is not backbiting (again, I’m not an Islamic scholar); and talk therapy is a great way to understand, confront, and have closure to past events that may not have made sense as children and need revisiting as adults.

Healing the Scars of My Mother’s Abuse

Abusive Parents: Enough is Enough!

The Truth about Domestic Abuse and Children’s Development

I am not sure, however, that a simple release is all you need. Talking to a trained professional will help make sense of what happened and perhaps partake in some kind of grief therapy to grieve the childhood you lost.

A psychodynamic approach with a therapist will also help in that you will be able to understand how your past is having an impact on your current life. This increased awareness will help you avoid repeating the cycle and nurturing parts in yourself that were neglected before.

If you do not want to see a therapist, consider joining a support group for survivors of childhood abuse. This will show you that you are not the only one who is struggling with these emotions and may shed some light on your journey ahead.

Reading about dysfunctional mother-daughter relationships, a starting point may be: “When You and Your Mother Can’t Be Friends” by: Victoria Secunda, or “Toxic Parents” by Susan Forward.

In the end, there is a very important issue that I would like to shed some light on.

Despite good mothering expectations, many women are horrible mothers (for a variety of reasons from mental health to their own personal histories of trauma/neglect/abuse etc.) who end up being abusive to their children. It is a sad cycle because the relationship with our primary caregivers heavily shapes our personalities and world views as adults.

The image of the nurturing mother is the dominant image that pops into people’s mind when the word “mother” comes up. It is true that most mothers are devoted and caring individuals. It is also true, however, that despite good intentions, mothers are also humans who often lose their cool and make (many) mistakes with their children.

It is an unfair expectation placed on women to be perfect, and this is often where the term “mother guilt” comes from. Mother-blaming is also quite common amongst adult children who like to blame their parents for their lives that perhaps are not what they want their lives to be.

From your question, though, I understand that your childhood was an abusive one and one that you have not fully recovered from yet, despite being an adult with your own respective family. I am not accusing you of mother-blaming or anything of that sort. I just have to mention that point so you can be careful of that perspective when discussing this issue with others.

 

Answer by Dr. Mohammed Sadiq:

Wa `Alaykum As-Salaam,

It makes me sad to hear how some parents put themselves and their children through living hell, the burns of which take a lifetime to heal and often never get healed.
Now, to answer your question, consider the following:

1. When a person gets burned, hurt, or abused by someone, would it be haram and impermissible for him/her to cry out, explain to a doctor what happened, and ask for help?

2. Would it be haram for this person to have negative feelings towards his/her abuser?

3. If he/she asks someone to help in healing, would he/she be considered backbiting?

4. Did people not come to the Prophet (saw) complaining about their abusers? Did he ever stop them from doing so? Or, did he immediately offer them a remedy?

You need to cleanse your heart and soul of all the traumas, for which you would have to spill it out to someone who can properly guide you in the process of cleansing and making peace. Once this happens, you would be better able to deal with your feelings of resentment towards your parents and these traumas of the past would no longer keep hurting and harming your present life.

May Allah (swt) give you the strength and courage to go through the cleansing process. It is clear that all your siblings are survivors and have been blessed with sufficient strength to bear the hardships you have been put through.

I wish you all the best,

***

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About Attia Zaidi

Attia Zaidi is a writer, educator, social worker and mother. She has worked with the GTA’s Muslim community for over 15 years in various capacities. Currently, Attia runs a small private practice offering therapy for Muslim families.

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