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Suffering from Sexual Abuse & Mentally Ill Mom

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Jan 02, 2017

Question

Please help me. I grew up in India in a middle-class family with 2 older brothers. I was sexually abused several times: at the age of 5 and 10 by one of my uncles, and at the age of 13 or 14 by my older brother. They thought me inappropriately and I didn't have the guts to tell anyone. My mother has, what I believe, Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She has been weird to me and to everyone all her life. I cannot recall any good childhood memories with her. For example, at age 14 or so, I had a bad tummy pain and the school asked my parents to come and pick me up. When I was lying on the bed at home that afternoon, my mom came to the room and started asking about whom I met and what happened, assuming I was pregnant. Another occasion was when once I went to a gathering of boys and girls and we got slightly late. My mom came unannounced to pick me up and got very angry that boys were around. She pulled me into the taxi and said that as I was getting beautiful, she needed to destroy my face and so she scratched my face. She made clothes for me which was not fitting me. Such incidents like these made me feel worthless. She never encouraged me to study well; only dad wanted me to do well. Eventually, I became a rebel at age 16. As soon as I went to co-educational school, I was approached by boys and was an attention seeker. I got myself a boyfriend I didn’t even love. I just wanted anyone as my boyfriend. I got caught by my parents twice in 2 years and was beaten up by them. Then I entered university and my mom told me to find a Muslim guy to marry. And I found one who turned out to be bad, but my mom liked him. I left him anyway when I realized he was humiliating me just like my mom has done to present day. I live in the US now because of which she gets jealous of me. She tries to compete with me. When I first got pregnant, she ignored me and made my days stressful to the extent that I actually lost that baby in the 9th month of pregnancy. When I again got pregnant 3 years ago, she came here on the day my son was born and fought with me like a crazy person. All these years, she has filled my dad and brothers against me. She made my brother divorce his wife and the poor girl died 3 years after divorce in her sleep. I am sure she blames even this on me as everything else. I want to know whether her abuse is justified because of my bad teenage years. (I did everything except having intercourse which my mom is aware of.) I never cared about Islam, but hamdulillah I am a pious woman now because of my husband who has never missed a single prayer since he was 16. I married according to their wishes and have never given them trouble why they still hate me. (My brothers still do zina, by the way, but they are men, so my parents don’t care about it.) How can I remove this guilt?

Counselor

Answer


Sexual Abuse & Mom with Psychological Disorder

Answer:

As-Salamu ‘Alaykum sister,

Thank you for writing to us. Your letter clearly expresses the pain and abuse you went through as a child. It was horrendous, and I am so sorry you had to go through that. It is evident your mother has some type of psychological disorder; however, only a complete assessment done by a clinician can determine what it is. I am wondering if she ever got help before or has ever been diagnosed. In any event, dear sister, while this is in the past, it still affects you.

Sister, concerning your teen years and boys, everyone makes mistakes; we all commit sins for which we repent and ask for Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. The teen years are especially difficult, and in your case, with all the abuse at home, you were looking for love, wherever. Additionally, research has shown that children, who have been sexually abused at a young age, tend to become sexually active at an earlier age in their teen years.

As adults, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common among survivors of not only domestic violence from spouses, but childhood violence as well. Abuse can take a real toll on you physically, emotionally, and mentally. It can affect your ability to function, and at a time when you must function at even a higher level than average if you are going to make it. Perhaps you jump out of your seat or scream occasionally when you hear a loud noise, or when someone walks up behind you. You know that you are “safe.”

Sister, while you did not mention whether you had symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other issues due to the sexual and other physical abuse you endured as a child, I highly encourage you to seek counseling in your area.

Additionally, in sha’ Allah, I suggest that you join a group of Childhood Survivors of Abuse. If you search this on the internet, you should find a chapter where you live. In these groups, you will be in a “safe place” hearing other women share their stores, and as you share yours (if you chose), you will find that much support is as well as learning valuable coping skills and insight.

You must remember, dear sister, that Allah (swt) is most compassionate, most merciful. He knows all and He (swt) sees all. Your mother had no right to abuse you; there is no justification for abuse. While your mother may have been very jealous of you and treated you (and your brother) horribly, she does love you, sister. It was evident in some of your statements such as her concern of you being raped, she was angry when she found you at a party with boys (safety). I’m sure if you think long enough, you will find other instances of her love for you despite her abusive and harsh treatment of you. However, she was/is mentally ill, and sadly, you had to suffer because of it.

Sometimes it is hard when one a parent is mentally ill. Children are often the target of their anger, confusion, delusions, anxieties, low self-esteem and so on. As a consequence, adults, who were abused as children, often blame themselves for the abuse, feeling they deserved it and often have low self-esteem. Left untreated, adult victims of child abuse often carry the pain and guilt of an abusive childhood well into their twilight years.

Sister, I know you will be okay; I have confidence you can heal from this. You are a beautiful Muslimah blessed with a husband who loves you and a precious child. I see a strong young woman who has lived through some horrific times only to emerge as a pious pearl of Islam. Hold your head up, love yourself for the empowered wonderful person you are. Trust in Allah (swt), make du’aa’ for your mother, your family, and ask Allah (swt) to help you on your journey towards healing. He (swt) is the greatest of healers.

Additionally, dear sister, I would advise limiting time spent with your mother. It is a toxic not only for you, but for your child as well. Unless she gets help and changes, I would treat her kindly, help her when you can as that is your Islamic duty, but limit the time spent. Focus on your new wonderful life, your husband and child, Islam, as well as considering, in sha’ Allah, the advices I have given as far as counseling and a support group.

You are in our prayers dear sister. Please, let us know how you are doing.

Salam,

***

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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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