In this counseling answer:
• She needs to understand that she did the right thing by telling her mom.
• The family needs to understand the seriousness of this abuse from an Islamic, social and familial position.
• The children in the home should also be questioned in order to find out if anything has ever happened to them.
• It is most appropriate that the father leaves the home immediately.
• The daughter also may need counseling to help her overcome the trauma and abuse that was put upon her.
As Salaam Alaykum dear brother,
Thank you for writing to us with your most important and critical concerns. I pray to Allah that he guides me to provide an adequate response. As I understand your question, you know a family and you are very close to them. There are six in the family with one son and three daughters. You stated that the mom was away to visit her parents for about a week. During this time, the dad would come home and make sure the children were sleeping, kiss them good night and then go to his own place to sleep. However, you were given the information that the oldest daughter who is 21 was awake one of these nights. She stated the father did lay down next to her and tried to touch her inappropriately. As she was awake she did stop him. After this experience, you stated that the daughter has been very scared and cries every day.
Protection & Accountability
Brother, it is quite natural for this girl to be scared and crying. It is a very terrible thing when a father attempts to sexually abuse a daughter. I can imagine she was very shocked and scared that he would even attempt to do something like this. This abusive behavior traumatized her.
I’m very relieved to hear that she did tell her mom. Some children will not tell anyone that they have been abused, especially if the abuse was by a family member. This is due to the fear of not being believed, fear of being shamed or ostracized or fear of disruption in the family dynamics. This young woman was very brave in coming forth with what happened. She should be supported in every way needed.
By telling her mom, she is not only seeking protection of herself, she is seeking protection for the other children in the home. By exposing her father’s horrendous sin to the mom and in turn he is confronted, he has a chance to repent to Allah swt and seek help for his deviation and abusive behaviors.
You stated they did confront the father, and of course, he says he can’t remember anything happening. You stated that the father returned from a gathering and drank alcohol. This is haram too and does not relieve one from responsibility. He refuses to be held accountable.
Many people drink alcohol, brother, but they don’t all come home and try to sexually abuse their children. This is something that has been in his mind. It was not a random intoxicated though. Alcohol may have loosened his inhibitions, but the thoughts were there.
To further add injury, the father is basically telling the daughter that either he must leave the house or she must leave the house. This is further trauma as the blame is now put on the daughter. She needs to know without a doubt that she is innocent and not at fault in any way. She needs to understand that she did the right thing by telling her mom.
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The family needs to understand the seriousness of this abuse from an Islamic, social and familial position. It is haram, a major sin and is an abomination. The daughter should not be made to suffer by seeing him every day and reliving the nightmare and trauma.
Safeguarding the Children & Home
Brother, in a situation like this, it is most appropriate that the father leaves the home immediately. The daughter is the victim, not the father; therefore, the father needs to take responsibility, pack his bags and leave.
I will kindly suggest that when he leaves the family requests that if he is truly intent on getting his family back, he needs to get counseling.
Additionally, he needs to seriously think about his commitment to Allah as his behavior is an is an abomination and a severe sin. Insha’Allah, the family can have a meeting as soon as possible and inform the father that he needs to leave. The family should indicate insha’Allah, that a severe wrong has been done to the daughter and the father needs to leave. Get himself right with Allah by repenting, returning to Islamic values and morals as well as seeking help.
A Painful Process
Brother, this does not happen overnight. It is a process. A painful one for all, but especially for the daughter who has been violated. Trust has been broken in one of the severest ways. It may be difficult to regain that trust, even after time, even if he does get help and seek Allah. As a mother, contemplating taking back a husband who has sexually abused one of her daughters, there may always be a lingering doubt even if all steps have been taken.
Please insha’Allah encourage the mom and children to make duaa, read Qur’an together, do dhkir and draw closer to Allah swt. Allah knows best what is in the heart and the family should seek refuge in Allah for protection, guidance, and relief.
The daughter also may need counseling to help her overcome the trauma and abuse that was put upon her. It is important that her mother seek out counseling for her and stay close to her and be there to support her.
You stated the other children do not know of this abuse. However, the children in the home should also be questioned in order to find out if anything has ever happened to them. It may be that this type of abuse has been going on for a while with one or more of the other children, but they were too afraid to come forth and tell.
Brother, please do recommend this course of action for the family in order to protect the daughter and the other children. Insha’Allah, try to ensure that the family gets the counseling that they need. If required, please do refer them to someone who is experienced and reputable.
As you do not know if this has happened in the past with the other children or if this is something new, you do not know the extent of the damage. Insha’Allah encourages the mom to seek out support networks or support groups for families/children who are victims of (incestuous) sexual abuse, preferably Islamic if possible.
It is evident that this has affected you deeply and hurt your heart. I would kindly suggest dear brother that you also seek out a trusted friend or imam to talk to about your worries and concerns regarding this family. Do not give names or any specifics that may identify them, but a general synopsis of what has happened will be sufficient. I am recommending this so you have an ongoing support system for yourself.
You have a wonderful, caring, loving heart, brother. May Allah reward you with abundant blessings for your care and concern.
We wish the family the best,
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.