As Salamu ‘Alaikum sister,
Thank you for writing to us about your very important concerns. I am sorry you were the target of bullying by your cousins from a young age onwards. It must have been a very difficult situation as your father was ill and your mom left. May Allah (swt) bless your endurance and patience with the situation.
Bullying is not something Islamic. I am sure your cousins are aware of this even though you state they are still doing it. While you and your sister are to be commended for growing up into successful young adults, you now have the emotional baggage and trauma to deal with.
For low self-esteem and low confidence, I would suggest dear sister that you contact a counselor in your area who deals with post traumatic events. There are skills and coping mechanisms you can learn from a therapist which will ease the past hurts and empower you, in sha’ Allah. Counseling will also help you “move on” in your life and let the past go.
You stated that for years you did not have contact with your cousins, and that you need advice as you have ignored the problem for years. I need to point out here that when (years later) they did send your family an invitation to the wedding, either a polite decline or an acceptance would have been the appropriate response. However, I am sad to say that perhaps your brother’s response of “asking why they are playing these silly games” may have re-ignited a feud that was long put in the past by your cousins and their families. Possibly, they sent you the wedding invitation trying to make amends. However, as you and your family still feel hurt from their past actions, you responded defensively which caused them to react in the same manner – thus beginning the fighting and bullying all over again.
While you have taken the steps to stop the bullying and abuse (telling your family, standing up to your cousin, having others around who have witnessed the bullying, etc.), you may also want to ensure that you avoid:
- Getting into a fight with the bully – Avoid physical confrontation. Someone will get hurt. You might go to jail. It is likely that nothing will be resolved. If there is no immediate threat to life, don’t jeopardize it by brawling.
- Returning the abuse – Becoming a bully yourself is an easy trap to fall into when you feel hurt and angry. Resist the temptation to lower yourself to the level of your abuser; be the stronger person.
- Acting out in frustration – learn self control when you are around this person and her family.
If you are being bullied, just walk away, don’t engage the person who bullies; it only feeds into what they want from you – a response. If you don’t give a response, the incidences will decrease, in sha’ Allah. If possible, avoid all contact with your cousin and her family, including Facebook.
Additionally, sister, as you are Muslim, you may to reflect upon the following two examples of the Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) responses to bullying as illustrated by OnFaith: “One is of the woman who always threw trash on him (saw), and how, despite this, he (saw) continued to take the same path everyday and refused to retaliate in anyway. The day she didn’t throw the trash on him (saw), he was concerned and went to find out what was wrong only to discover she was ill. He (saw) went on to help her and do his best to help her back to health.
The second is the story of the blind man whom the Prophet (saw) fed by hand while listening to him berating the “false Prophet” and “liar” the whole time. Only when the Prophet (saw) passed away did the blind man find out that Muhammad (saw) was actually the one feeding him this whole time. May we all aspire to such character.”
So my dear sister, please avoid confrontations, make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) that He (swt) grants peace between the two families; seek refuge in Allah(swt) and study Islamic guidance for how to handle the situation.
In addition, please seek counseling for your self-esteem and confidence issues; you may be surprised, in sha’ Allah, how it may change your perspective on not only yourself, but may give you insight into why people bully, leading to a clearer resolution to any future problems which may occur.
You are in our prayers sister. Please do let us know how you are doing.
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