One day my brother in law created misunderstanding and quarrel between me and my husband and my husband beat me and threw me out of his home. After that, I gave birth to a baby girl in my parents’ home, and when my baby became 4 months old, my husband came to take us back home.
However, this time my husband’s brother started harassing me physically whenever my husband used to go out. My brother in law tried to sexually abuse me and harassed me. I told my husband, but he refused to listen to me.
One day my brother in law beat me and said, "I will throw you out of this home" and my husband threw me and my little daughter out of his home. Nine months have been passed since then and my husband has not contacted me nor asked about his daughter.
What should I do? Please advise me. In our country, second marriages are rarely possible for divorced women, therefore, I want to save this marriage. Please guide me.
In this counseling answer:
• You cannot save a marriage with a person who has physically and emotionally abused you and also turned a blind eye to the sexual, physical, and emotional abuse of his own brother against you.
• You have a daughter now which means it is your duty to do everything in your power to make sure she grows up in a safe and secure home away from the violence of any kind.
• Consider the options to protect yourself legally. What legal options are available to you to protect yourself?
• If there are advocacy groups in your area that help women in situations like this, please reach out them.
• The men in your family such as your father, your uncle, your grandfather, or whoever else you trust to protect you should be standing up to your husband and his brother for what they have done.
As-Salamu Alaikum sister,
Thank you for your question and for reaching out. The situation you have described has been very painful to read. To list clearly what I gained from your question so far:
1) Your brother in law quarrels with you and treats you disrespectfully
2) Your husband physically abused you while you were pregnant
3) Your husband kicked you out of your home while you were pregnant
4) Your husband was not present in your life until four months postpartum
5) Your brother in law is sexually harassing you in your husband’s absence
6) Your brother in law has physically abused you
7) Your brother in law has emotionally abused you threatening to remove you from your own home
8) Your husband then kicked you out of your home along with your daughter
9) Nine months have passed and he has ignored you and his daughter’s existence
You are asking to save your marriage, but I need to make it clear that you have not experienced a relationship based on your description. You cannot save a marriage with a person who has physically and emotionally abused you and also turned a blind eye to the sexual, physical, and emotional abuse of his own brother against you.
You deserve to be treated with respect, dignity, kindness, and mercy as a woman, as a wife, and as a sister in law. This kind of treatment is absolutely horrendous and there are no excuses for their behavior.
Divorce vs. Death: A Grim Possibility
I understand you are afraid of being divorced because remarriage is more challenging in your country. My fear for you isn’t about never getting married again. My fear is that you will be killed by one of the beatings your husband or brother in law gives you and that your daughter will grow up without her mother and be left in the care of these two men who aren’t fit for being parents.
You have a daughter now which means it is your duty to do everything in your power to make sure she grows up in a safe and secure home away from the violence of any kind. Babies pick up on stress and children can be traumatized from growing up in a home where they witness physical or emotional abuse. Even worse is the fear that your husband could hurt his child or your brother in law might.
Anyone who doesn’t respect the mother of a child is not showing respect to a child as everyone knows that children need the love and tenderness of their mothers.
You are a mother! You are honored to have been granted a little Muslim girl to take care of and raise. In all that you’ve gone through you may not have stopped to think about her future because you’ve been worrying about your own.
Protecting Your Daughter
Right now, I want to encourage you to think about her. What do you want her childhood to be like? What memories do you want her to have of growing up? What traditions do you want to start with her? What kinds of friends do you hope she’ll play with and grow up with? And what do you want her to know about how a girl, a young lady, and a woman should be treated?
You will be her role model. She will follow in your footsteps. This is your beautiful opportunity to take your life by the reigns and make it amazing.
Being a divorced woman will not be the end of your life. People might talk but you also know that you are taking care of yourself and your daughter and putting an end to a cycle of abuse. You will not let it pass on through you to your daughter.
Islam is Against Abuse and Oppression
Allah knows what you are going through and He is the One who will support you and take care of you. This is a mighty test but it’s one you are built to handle.
“Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope…” (2:286)
I would also encourage you to consider the options to protect yourself legally. What if your husband threatens you or tries to take your daughter away from you? What legal options are available to you to protect yourself? Do you have evidence of the harm he has done to you? Text messages or pictures of physical abuse?
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Also, are your parents on your side offering you support? Having supportive parents is important in your situation. It doesn’t sound like you are in a position to live in your own with your daughter right now or have a legal system set up to help you do that. It’s crucial that your parents and family think beyond concepts of “what will people think” and focus on the safety and well-being of you and your daughter.
The Men Around You Should Protect You
In a situation like this, the men in your family such as your father, your uncle, your grandfather, or whoever else you trust to protect you should be standing up to your husband and his brother for what they have done. It is their role and job to make sure the women and children in the family are being treated according to the law of Islam.
Many of your rights as a Muslim woman have been violated and will continue to be violated so long as these men believe they can act in secret and get away with their abuse. If there are advocacy groups in your area that help women in situations like this, please reach out them. You are going to need help.
You cannot do something like a wife on her own to improve this marriage. It’s not about cooking better food, being more patient, trying to be kinder, or any other common marital advice that can be applied here.
Abuse is serious and cannot be solved without consequences to the abusers, protection for the victim being abused, protection for those who have been abused, and a solid commitment from the abuser to get professional help and to be held accountable for their actions.
One of my teachers once said that until an abuser is willing to apologize to such an extent that the victim believes they are truly remorseful, then healing cannot even begin for a relationship that has been this damaged.
Even if your husband was to take you back home with your daughter, your abusive brother in law is there as well. So, it’s not just one human being who has harmed you – but two.
If You Chose to Stay
If you do decide that you are going to have someone intervene on your behalf, family, counselor, imam, or an elder because you decide at some point to give your husband another chance (with the knowledge that your family is aware of everything and will keep checking in on the both of you) there is one matter which should be non-negotiable: you no longer live in a home with your brother in law or any other extended family member.
Your husband would also need to know that others will be aware of your marriage and you are not left alone to be abused in any fashion.
My dear sister, I am trying to paint your picture as black and white as I can because I want you to understand that, in no uncertain terms, you deserve better. Fight for it and know that Allah is not on the side of the oppressor.
Allaah says in a Hadeeth Qudsi: “O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another.” (Muslim)
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