Emotional Abuse of My Husband: Can I Separate?

13 December, 2016
Q Can I ask for a separation from my husband due to emotional abuse? I am not asking for divorce. I have 4 kids with him and we have been married for 25 years now. Thank you.



As-Salaam ‘Aleikom sister,

Thank you for contacting us with you question. I will answer you the best I can, In sha’ Allah.

25 years is a long time. Has your husband been emotionally abusive from the start or is it something he’s been doing recently? Whenever it has started, marriage should not be like this; it should be filled with love, respect, and happiness. You have 4 children with him that might have stopped you from leaving him even if he was abusing you. It can be hard for a woman to do so, especially in countries where men are considered superior than women in the society. In some societies, the “what will the people say” rule dominates the everyday life. I am really sorry to hear about what you are facing in your relationship with your husband.

Abuse is a violation of a person’s human and civil rights. It follows a pattern of behavior that is used to gain or maintain power and control over another person. That includes any behavior that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound another person. In Islam, abuse is not tolerated on any level.

Emotional abuse often contains strong, emotionally manipulative content, designed to force a person to comply with the abuser’s wishes. It can cause emotional pain to a person in an attempt to gain their compliance and counter any resistance.

These general guidelines are established by the Quran in the following verses:

O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers. O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.” (49:11-12)

It is common for some people when they are angry to call others by names or belittle them. If one gets angry quickly with one’s spouse, it could lead to emotional abuse. The Prophet (saw) advised us to control our anger, not to call each other names, not to use vulgar language, and not to point a weapon at another person. This advice was general for all, but it should be taken even more seriously within a marriage. Therefore, neither of the spouses is allowed to abuse the other emotionally. This is prohibited in Islam. If either does so, Almighty Allah (swt) will hold him or her accountable for that, and they should repent to Allah (swt) for this. It is clear now that the best guide to us to live a very successful martial life is to follow the Prophet (saw).

Leaving an abusive relationship is a decision that a woman must make on her own. Statistically, an abused woman leaves and returns to her spouse ten times before permanently separating. Only by recognizing the dynamics of abuse and the fallacies of why she stays will enable an abused woman to seek support and get out of the abusive relationship. As Allah (swt) tells us in the Quran:

“Verily, God does not change [a person’s] condition unless they change themselves…” (13:11)

The decision to leave an abuser and protect oneself physically and emotionally takes enormous courage and strength.

Of course, if you have children, there is another responsibility on you; you need to maintain your emotional/mental well-being so that you can satisfy their emotional needs and also maintain a healthy psychological environment for them to grow in. This, too, requires that you decide for the right terms of that relationship between you and their father.

Satan loves it when a husband and wife separate.

“Iblis places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension) ; the nearer to him in rank are those who are most notorious in creating dissension. One of them comes and says: “I did so and so.” And he says: “You have done nothing.” Then one amongst them comes and says: “I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife.” The Satan goes near him and says: “You have done well.” A’mash said: He then embraces him.” (Muslim)

If the woman is seeking to initiate a divorce against her husband for a valid reason – such as any kind of abuse- , there would be no sin upon her; but if she seeks to initiate a divorce upon her husband without an absolutely valid reason, it would indeed be considered a sin. And Allah knows best.

I suggest that if you haven’t talked to him already, you address this disturbing behavior of his. Explain to him that you can’t tolerate it anymore. He has to stop abusing you. Tell him that if he does not stop, then you will have to leave him. Maybe then he will take you more serious and stop his poor behavior with you. If he still doesn’t change, then you can ask for Khula’ from you husband. Khula’ is “the separation of the wife in return for a payment.” In case your husband does not want to divorce you, you may seek khula’ wbout which you can read more here.

May Allah (swt) show you the right path and ease your problems, In sha’ Allah.



Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides.