My father in law is very a respected man. He works for free to benefit the masjid. He also helps anyone in need. He has a lot of respect among everyone outside and inside the family.
My husband worships him. He handles all the finance and business. My husband is in his control.
It happened that I believe he touched me inappropriately for a fraction of a second. It happened many times. Before I could react, he would just gel with the surrounding as if nothing happened and behave really politely with me in front of others.
I know no one would believe me if I tell them because he is very caring and helpful otherwise towards me and everyone. But I believe what he does is intentional, manipulative and wrong. Please, tell me what should I do. If I tell anyone, they would break the marriage, my husband would leave me and I would be considered a liar. But I cannot let this continue as it's affecting me badly.
In this counseling answer:
I will kindly suggest that you seek out an agency or organization for women in your area, preferably one that is Islamic.
Try not to be around your father-in-law in close proximity wherein he can touch you.
Ideally, your husband should believe you, support you, defend and protect you. If he does not, and you are blamed or told you are lying, you will need to have a plan B – which will be leaving. Allah did not create you, sister, to be abused in this way.
As Salamu Alaykum sister,
Thank you for writing to us. I am so sorry to hear what has been going on with your father-in-law. His touching you inappropriately is most vile and haram as you know. It should not be tolerated.
A Problem for our Ummah
This is a problem in our ummah that sadly goes unaddressed many times. There are some men who are very highly respected, pillars in the community as well as at home and have impeccable reputations. However, a few have done exactly what your father-in-law is doing.
There is sexual abuse going on and nobody is speaking about it for the same fears that you have. Due to the reputation of these men, and often times cultural norms and beliefs, the women or victims cannot say anything because they will not be believed as you stated.
Additionally, many do not want to risk losing their husbands and family by speaking up. This is a huge problem because it is a violation not only of Islamic principles and values but it is a violation of women.
I will kindly suggest sister that you seek out an agency or organization for women in your area, preferably one that is Islamic.
There may be organizations or groups of women who offer assistance in cases like this. I am sure that there are other women who have experienced this same situation from other men in the community or perhaps even from him.
If the situation where you live is tight-knit and or politically-charged, these groups of women or organizations may be kind of underground, meaning they are not publicly broadcast for fear of repercussions.
I kindly advise you insh’Allah, to seek out connections to these organizations by looking online and putting in keywords such as sexual abuse, Islam, women.
If this search does not bring up anything, I would kindly suggest that you contact the Rahi Foundation. While it focuses on childhood sexual assault/abuse, it also can offer some great supports and referrals insha’Allah.
The site states: “RAHI Foundation, established in 1996, is a pioneering organization focused on women survivors of Incest and Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). RAHI’s work includes support and recovery through the distinctive RAHI Model of Healing; awareness and education about Incest/ CSA; training and intervention; and research and capacity building – all established within the larger issue of social change”.
In the meantime, sister, try not to be around your father-in-law in close proximity wherein he can touch you. This may be hard due to family gatherings and so forth. However, try to stay away from him.
If he is touching you inappropriately, he may be touching others inappropriately as well such as other daughters, daughters-in-law, sisters who go to him for help etc. The fact that you are married to his son sadly makes his access to you easier.
As you stated, your husband “worships” him and trust him completely and they are very close. I’m not recommending that you inform your husband at this point.
As you indicated, it is highly unlikely he will believe you given the situation. However, he does need to be informed as to what is going on.
Check out this counseling video:
I would kindly suggest that you first get supports set in place (counseling, telling your mom or a close sister, another family, a place to live if needed) in case you need to leave.
Ideally, your husband should believe you, support you, defend and protect you.
If he does not, and you are blamed or told you are lying, you will need to have a plan B – which will be leaving. Allah did not create you, sister, to be abused in this way.
Sister, you may want to discuss the situation with your mother or a sister whom you are close to and that you trust explicitly. Seek their advice on the situation and how to handle it. It is not an easy situation, but it must be addressed.
Again, as I stated earlier, there are organizations and groups who are comprised of professional counselors who have probably been through this themselves and that is why they seek to help others.
Exposure is demanded because men who are respected, trusted and from our Islamic communities and live a double life by violating women cannot be tolerated.
There is to be no toleration for any man violating women from any community. However, some of these men feel “safer” based on their status and cultural surroundings. I often wonder if they ever fear the wrath of Allah for their actions.
Please, seek out any groups or organizations in your area which you can reach out to for guidance and assistance with this matter.
Consider confiding in your mom or a close sister for assistance.
Try to distance yourself from your father-in-law physically so he cannot touch you and please do make duaa to Allah to assist you with this matter, to grant ease as well as expose this man for what he is doing.
Counseling & Moving Ahead
At this point, I also advise you to seek out counseling in your area insha’Allah. A counselor should also be able to help you formulate a way for you to protect yourself, assist you in resolving the situation according to your countries laws and resources for women as well as link you to the kind of organizations I was talking about.
There may come a point sister wherein you may have to leave the home to protect yourself as well as any children you may have or have in the future. Surely, you would not want them around your father-in-law.
In addition, please know that this is no fault of your own. You are innocent. You are a victim. It is sad when we cannot trust esteemed elders in our community and especially when they are in our family.
We wish you the best, sister,
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.