03 January, 2017
Salam. I am a mum of 2, married for almost6 years. Since we got married with my husband, we have had a lot of fights. I have been verbally abusive towards him a lot. However, he has been emotionally (“you are stupid, unfit mother, you are unable to decide for yourself, I don’t want to abuse you but you look for it”), verbally (“you are a bitch, you are useless, you keep complaining, I will listen to you when I think you are right, you are no genius for me to listen to you”), spiritually (“you don't know your deen and you are going to hell, you have to obey me as your husband, Allah will ask me before putting you to hell or paradise, you are ungrateful and woman like you will go to hell, you don’t have the right to contradict me”), and financially (“I have right on your income, you should spend on household as you agreed before marriage, you have to spend because if you divorce I would have spent on you and you would have made savings at my expense”), and physically (Allah has given me the right to slap/hit you) abusive towards me. He hasn't punched me or anything, but I have received quite a few slaps during those 5 years. I have had it 3 times last year. And he has been physically abusive in front of the kids too, telling my son that is how women like me should be treated, that you shouldn't let people like me trample on others, that you need be harsh. I was undergoing therapy with a Muslim lady psychologist here. To be honest, I wanted to leave. When confronted that he has been physically abusive with the family, he told me that though he agrees that he shouldn't have hit me that hard and in front of the family, that is his right as my husband. We have had good moments too in our marriage. But most of the time, he keeps demeaning and belittling me. I'm fat, I'm stupid; I'm a bitch who doesn't know her religion. He tells that he regrets hitting me, but he doesn't regret all of the bad words he told me because I deserved them, according to him. And I make him angry. He wants me to stop working and stay home and look after the kids, but I feel I can't do this because if ever I stay at home and matters turn worse, I won't have any chance to leave (although I had agreed before my marriage thinking everything will be alright). When undergoing therapy, I had realized how this whole situation is unhealthy. I have told him and my parents of my intention to divorce. My parents, especially my mum, hate me because I have been fine all this years when he have been abusive towards me and now I want to leave. For them, I'm being selfish and not thinking about my kids. They think that I have to stay because of them, that they will resent me for having broken this family. I feel lost and confused. I have distanced myself completely from him and ended cheating on him with a cousin of mine who have been supporting me these past 4 months, who encouraged me to talk to the therapist, …etc. We haven’t had sexual intercourse, it’s mostly an emotional relationship, except for 3 instances. We have realized how wrong we have been and decided by ourselves to stay away from cheating. I feel that going through therapy was helping me to be more in charge of my feelings and emotions which was helping me to be a better mother for my kids, and be less tolerant of abuse. My mother too was verbally and physically abused by my dad when we were kids. I was so overwhelmed that I was verbally and even physically abusive towards my son. My son had speech & hearing disorder and had surgery last year and ended up in speech therapy and meeting a psychologist (the one I was going therapy with). Had it not been for my cousin, I would have never told her about the abuse at home though she clearly shifted focus from my son to myself several times during the therapy as she senses something was wrong. During those past months, I have got a flash of being sexually abuse as a child (from an uncle from probably), but since I’m banned from going to therapy from my parents, I haven’t been able to work on that with the therapist. I feel guilty for having cheated on my husband and feel like I deserve to be treated the way he treats me. Please note that the abusive behavior has been before my marriage – approx.. 7.5 years - and before I cheated on him. I had sinned a lot before meeting him (just as he did) and while we were together. He blames me for that, telling me that I was a sinking ship before I met him and that the condition for marrying me is that I leave him free – to which I agreed, feeling he was doing me a favor by marrying a girl like me, that he lifted me the dirt as he said. He has been cheating on me before our marriage and I have seen some messages too after, but I don’t know to what extent. His mobile is locked. No one knows about the sexual abuse in childhood of mine at home. Note that my mother-in-law is schizophrenic and that his parents divorced since he was 5 years. His father had slapped her mother once too. I have always felt that I have been living with 2 persons rather than just my husband so much he can be nice one day and moody or abusive the next. My mother in law had tried to hit me too. My husband had during different fights slapped my sister, his mother or a manager at work. He tells me there need to have people like him in the society that we now live in. Initially he didn’t’t want to go to counseling saying that there is no use for him to go if I won’t obey him. Now he says he’ll go but that I have to give him the guarantee that I won’t divorce him or I have to tell him the exact outcomes that I want from the therapy. He asked me how he wants me to proceed. Whether he accepts all the blame and let me free to do what I want or he inform the therapist about my ‘reality (my past)’. He has also told me that as long as I leave him alone and obey him, he isn’t here to question what I do and let me free. I asked if he’s fine with me having an affair and he told me that he won’t be fine but that he won’t be an asshole either. I feel this is the wrong dynamics for my kids to grow up within such a marriage, but as much as I want to leave this marriage on one hand, I somehow feel that due to the cheating I deserve what he has done to me and that I should have patience and stay as my mother tells me (though she acknowledges that he is sick in his head). No one knows about the cheating but my parents are aware that I had discussed the issue with my cousin (He is not my first cousin). Since we are related, he and I have not informed anyone about what happened (which we didn’t intend at all when we started talking – he is married with 1 child too). Also note that my husband has threatened to take my son and make anyone who supports me through my divorce pay for it if I am going ahead with divorce. Do I deserve to stay in such an abusive marriage because I cheated? I have a lot of guilt and feel that I deserve everything.
As-Salaam ‘Aleikom sister,
We are sorry to hear about your story and can understand how hard time you might be going through.
As you are describing in your text that you are being abused by your husband, it seems to me that your husband may suffer from schizophrenia like his mother. You mentioned that he changes behavior and that you sometimes feel you live with two persons rather than one; he is good one minute, the next he is completely different.
Scientists have long known that schizophrenia sometimes runs in the families. Research indicates that a child of a person with a mental illness has an increased risk of developing schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. If your husband is not schizophrenic, then he has definitely got some other mental illness. His mother was divorced when he was only 5 years old, and living with a mother with an illness must have had an impact on him.
The way your husband is treating you alone and in front of the children is not acceptable at all. Your past is past, and you both should be focusing on the present. Unfortunately, it looks like he has been abusing you for such a long time that you have started to believe some of the things he says to you. His controlling and negative attitude towards you is not only damaging for your marriage but also for your children’s life and mental health. Instead of teaching his son to respect his mom and other women, he is teaching them the opposite. The wife’s importance has been mentioned in the Qur’an a few times. It is essential to see that what your husband is doing and saying to you is totally wrong.
Islam honors women as wives. Islam urges the husband to treat his wife in a good and kind manner. It says that the wife has rights over the husband like his rights over her, except that he has a degree over her because of his responsibility of spending and taking care of the family’s affairs. Islam states that the best of the Muslim men is the one who treats his wife in the best manner, and the man is forbidden to take his wife’s money without her approval. Allah (swt) says:
“…and live with them in kindness…” (4:19)
„…And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.“ (2:228)
The Prophet (saw) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (trouble) his neighbor. And I advise you to take care of the women, for they are created from a rib and the most crooked portion of the rib is its upper part; if you try to straighten it, it will break, and if you leave it, it will remain crooked, so I urge you to take care of the women.” (Bukhari)
And the Prophet (saw) said:
“The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” (Ibn Majah)
Your husband is not fulfilling his duties as a good husband, and he will be punished for it. Remember, whatever he says to you is not your fault and you don’t deserve it at all. Your husband is very abusive and controlling and he doesn’t want you to leave him. He has filled your brain with so much guilt and low self-esteem for yourself that you actually think he is right when he says that he “lifted you from the dirt”.
False guilt is an oppressive burden that is not based on reality but on the warped views, ideas, and attitudes of others. Emotional abuse transfers those warped views on you, and those warped views produce mind-numbing, action-paralyzing shame. You are told you are responsible. Some of the nameless chaos is encapsulated. Bad things happen to me because I am bad. A sense of order is established. By latching onto your guilt, you are really attempting to take back control of your life.
Living with emotional and verbal abuse can take its toll on your health and general well-being. Take care of yourself and find healthy ways to deal with the stress of an abusive marriage. It is not easy to leave a person when you don’t have any support from your family about it, and especially when you have a child with the person, but it is important to look after yourself and know your worth and at the same time make things better. Here are a few tips on what you could do:
Find healthy ways to deal with the stress of an abusive marriage. Eat healthy foods and try to get enough rest. Remind yourself of your unique qualities and talents. Indulge in a hobby or interest you enjoy. Try starting an exercise routine or reading a good book to escape for a while.
Keep your support system strong. Try to maintain your relationships with friends and family as much as you can. Your husband may try to limit the amount of time you spend with others or sabotage your friendships. Tell them what is going on so they will understand if they don’t hear from you.
Gain more knowledge about the dynamics of abusive relationships. Knowing more about the pattern of abuse will help you understand that the abuse is not your fault but is something your husband chooses to do.
Try not to sink to his level. Set some boundaries with your husband. When he starts a verbal tirade, do not engage and try match his abuse. Calmly let him know that you are sorry he feels that way, but that you expect him to treat you with respect. If he continues, simply walk out of the room and give him time to cool off.
Pray to Allah (swt) that your husband changes his poor behavior and respect you as his wife and mother of your children.
No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship. You have to know that you have control over your own life and nobody can treat you the way he does. In sha’Allah, things will get better for you. Stay strong and be patient, sister.
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