Her husband is Christian and he drinks alcohol. He sometimes hits her also.
She want to leave him because he is Christian and she is not allowed to stay with him. However, she is afraid he would kill her if she left. How to help her?
In this counseling answer:
• You cannot push her to leave him if she doesn’t truly want to.
• She can call the Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
• Seek out professional help from a counselor.
• Identify 3 positive coping skills.
• Look for new Muslim support groups and obtain new Muslim materials.
• Be supportive and friendly, but be mindful of boundaries.
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatuulahi wa barakatu.
Thank you for taking the time to write in and express your concerns with us.
It is my understanding you have been giving dawah to a married Christian woman who has accepted Islam.
It is also my understanding her husband is an alcoholic, abusive and she reports feeling scared of him.
Please, understand it is her choice if she leaves him.
At this point, she is still a married woman. You cannot push her to leave him if she doesn’t truly want to.
She may be in a state of learned helplessness after enduring abuse for an extended amount of time.
Learned helplessness is essentially enduring trauma or negative stimuli over an extended amount of time; then developing a sense of inescapability and loss of power.
This means she may not be strong enough to leave him.
She might be struggling with thoughts like “I can’t survive without him”.
I strongly suggest she seeks out personal counseling.
This can inshallah help her to prepare for leaving him if she chooses to and helps her work through the years of the trauma she has endured with him.
If she feels uncomfortable speaking with a counselor in person, let her know she can do counseling online.
Please share this with her as well. She can call the Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233
Visit them online here on this link.
If she fears her internet history being monitored by him, suggest she calls them from a number outside of her own cell phone or the home line.
My Dear Brother, regardless if she leaves him or not, she is in a vulnerable state due to years of abuse and living in fear.
I urge you to be mindful of this and ensure you do not endanger yourself or her.
It is in her better interest not to push her to make serious changes or commitments she is not ready for yet.
It is not unusual for people coming out of trauma situations to make major changes they later regret.
For example, it is not advisable for her to marry after this divorce for at least a year or two, at a minimum.
While you can be supportive in faith and friend, I advise you to maintain appropriate boundaries with her.
Changing religions and contemplating leaving a marriage all at the same time is a lot for anyone.
She will go through emotional changes and need time to unpack those.
Another consideration is that she may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD.
This gives further support as to why I strongly suggest she seeks out counseling.
While we cannot diagnose this, here is some general information about PTSD which you can show her.
It is not unusual for someone to experience difficulties after a traumatic event.
But when those difficulties last for an extended amount of time, get worse and impact daily functioning it may indicate PTSD.
Symptoms can vary per person, but here is a general guideline.
- Persistent difficult memories of trauma events
- Flashbacks of the events
- Dreams related to the event, sometimes reoccurring
- Severe reactions to being reminded of past events
- Avoidance of anything that triggers memories of those events due to an inability to handle it
- Difficulty in relationships
- Emotional numbness
- Feeling easy on edge or startled
- Aggressive behavior that did not exist prior to those events
If she speaks with a Mental Health Professional, they can help in determining if she struggles with this.
Brother, you indicate she recently accepted Islam. I urge you to be very gentle with her.
It is a common mistake that we push new Muslims into legislation and details when that was not the practice of the earliest Muslims nor is it good for new Muslims.
Check out this counseling video:
Unfortunately, many new Muslims leave Islam within a few years.
While many variables affect this, being pushed to focus on legislation instead of aqeedah (faith) is one variable to mention here.
Right now, it is not appropriate to focus on “you can’t be married to him” and rules.
If she leaves him, it needs to be her choice to take charge of her life and step away from abuse.
If you try to focus on legislation with her and what is haram, this can be overwhelming and push someone back from Islam.
I urge you both to seek out a new Muslim support group in your local area or speak with the local Imam about this.
If she can get around other sisters and slowly work on finding herself as a Muslim while going through this period of her life, inshallah this is better.
Most new Muslims have a spiritual high at the beginning, but it will fade and when it does, she needs a solid foundation of faith to keep her going.
I also suggest looking at Islamic bookstores online and even Amazon, you can find a wealth of books for new Muslims.
Seeking knowledge can act as a way to distract her mind from negative thoughts when she is in distress and help her develop her Islamic base.
Please encourage her to seek out three positive coping skills.
These are activities that allow her to redirect and handle negative situations.
For example, if she has a negative memory come up that makes her feel sad or anxious. She can go for a walk outside to clear her mind.
Here are a few examples of coping skills:
- Nature walks
- Petting animals
- Listening to music
As you both move forward, here is a summary of your next steps in supporting her and her next steps.
- Seek out professional help from a counselor
- Consider using the domestic abuse hotline to speak with trained professionals who can help
- Identify 3 Positive Coping Skills
- Look for new Muslim support groups and obtain new Muslim materials
- Be a supportive Brother and friend, but be mindful of boundaries
May Allah (Swt) heal this Sister, guide her steps and reward you for all the assistance you provide,
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 are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.