I am a 35-year-old Muslim girl. Throughout my life I have suffered inequality. I am also a victim of domestic violence and honor crime. When I was 24, I was taken abroad thinking I was on a holiday. Instead, my passport was taken, and I was forced to marry a person whom I had only met once.
I eventually realized there was no way out and caved in and begrudgingly agreed after 10 weeks since my anti-depressants had run out. Unlike the rest of my relatives, I was not allowed to go out and slept in a room that was poorly ventilated, which made me frequently sick. I was not given any care.
As soon as my husband arrived to the UK, he changed overnight. I wasn't allowed to take my headscarf off, even at home, and he would come home very late every night. I found out that he had been sleeping around and was addicted to alcohol, drugs and pornography. He left me in debt of several hundred pounds.
I used to doubt my instinct, but now I’m sure that people never liked me in the first place. In fact, no matter what I did it was never good enough for my relatives or anyone. Then slowly, little by little, I began to remember how little kindness and mercy I was shown when I was a child.
Not one person stuck up for me or stood by me. I remembered when I was 10 and was left with relatives I barely knew back home who treated me horribly. I was often beaten, shouted at, and sworn at, and I was bullied on a regular basis amongst the adults and children. This spanned over 2 and a half years, yet I still managed to do my homework, household chores, and wash my own clothes!
Any money or items I had were frequently stolen from me or taken away by my relatives. Unfortunately, during many periods of my life I had been badly bullied and sexually abused, and I had this gut feeling that I would be blamed for it simply because I am a girl, and I was right.
One of my cousins presented this scenario to some of our relatives: what would you do if you found out that a 6-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by an adult male? The answer shocked me completely. They said that it's the child's fault because she’s a girl and she should have guarded her honor!
I now suffer Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, depression, chronic migraines, under-active thyroid, Arthritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and I need to be tested for Type 1 diabetes. I once got into an argument with a family member and decided that I wanted to leave. However, I was told that if I did, a hitman would be hired to finish me off. I am just so sick and tired of the arguments and the drunken abusive behavior at home I’m constantly subjected to and I am determined to leave. My life is going nowhere and the only reason why I’m still at home is because I’m nursing my father who had an incident recently.
My brother, on the other hand, has no intentions of helping me take care of our father, as he is intoxicated most nights, and other family members help very little. My mother loses her temper with my father and says degrading things to him. Very little support is given to me in this house and I’ve realized that I am being used and abused by people. Not long ago, I knew a girl who was in a similar situation to me who went to Pakistan to confront her husband about his affair, but she did not come back alive. I will never know what had happened to her and I miss her so badly.
I am exhausted, scared, and I don't know what to do. So, my question is: is it ideal for me to stay in a place like this and risk my life, or should I leave and give myself a chance to live? People are killing me, and I am sick of taking anti-depressants since I was 17. I’ve tried to turn things around so many times, but some people can never change.
I’ve been told many times that I have so much talent and potential, but my family and relatives are so controlling, and I’ve never had a stable job because of them. Money is constantly tight, and I am struggling to survive. My mother doesn’t allow me to have hobbies or interests either.
I’m constantly getting chronic migraines and stomach aches. I just can't do this anymore. Most importantly, what does Islam have to say about this? My family is slowly killing me and after 30 years of patience, I think I should leave. I just don't trust people, and never again do I ever want to get married.
My school life was abusive, my home life was abusive, and my in-laws were abusive. They have taken 30 years of my life away and it’s not fair! I don't understand what I did wrong.
In this counseling answer:
• Counselor/community service agency in your area and discuss your desire to leave your situation.
• If you do decide to leave, I strongly suggest that you do not tell anyone.
• I encourage you to reach out to other family members who live far away, but only if they are safe.
• If that is not possible, a domestic violence center should be able to set you up in safe houses.
• If you decide to stay, there are also resources, counseling, support groups, and emergency numbers to call if you feel threatened. Please make istikhara (prayer asking for guidance) regarding your situation.
• Go to Allah in duaa, make dhzikr, and ask for His mercy, protection, and guidance.
As-salaam Alaykum, my dearest sister,
Thank you for trusting us with your situation, feelings, and about your life. Sister, I must answer your question at the bottom of your letter first. You said you didn’t know what you did wrong, but, dear sister, you did nothing wrong at all. Sadly, and horrifically you were the victim of extreme abuse all of your life.
30 Years of Abuse
From abuse in your family home to abuse in your marriage to abuse after your marriage, you have suffered a lot. It is so sad that you did not have a safe home. Even when you went to school, you were bullied and abused. In addition to physical, emotional, and mental abuse, you were also sexually abused.
Abuse of Women
Your life story is like so many other young women, and it tears my heart to hear of what you have been through. Please know that you are a survivor, dear sister. What was done to you and is still ongoing is deplorable? Allah loves you and does not want you to suffer, although you have. Please know that if not in this life, then in the next your tormentors will be dealt with by Allah.
Sadly, abuse/violence against women is rampant worldwide. In Islam, you would think such an issue wouldn’t exist. Disgustingly, that’s not the case. From blatant disregard of the Quran, to deeply embedded cultural beliefs about women as well as feelings of inferiority by men who only feel superior by beating and abusing women, violence against women exists in our ummah as well.
Violence Against Women is Despicable to Allah
“Fear the prayer of the oppressed, for it is answered!” [Abu Dawud].
“Fear the prayer of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between it and God!” [Bukhari; Muslim].
The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The best of you are the best to their families; I am the best of you towards his family” [Tirmidhi; Ibn Majah]
Violence and abuse are despicable to Allah. As Muslims, we need to seriously address this horrific situation that is not only damaging our women but killing them. Sister, you have been through a lot. However, despite all that you have been through in your 30 years, you are intelligent, insightful, beautiful, and alive.
I understand that you have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and depression, migraines and physical disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. Those aren’t easy disorders to deal with and I admire your strength and will to change your situation and heal.
Please know that Allah’s vengeance on oppressors/abusers is real. Allah created you with love; He did not create you to be abused.
Sister, as you have risen above all that you have been through, you can rise above these disorders as well. You can heal and, in shaa’ Allah, you will. One of the keys to your healing would be living in a safe and loving environment. You cannot heal in a place that is dangerous, or in a place that is not supportive. Your environment must be conducive to healing.
I kindly suggest that you contact a counselor/community service agency in your area and discuss your desire to leave your situation. If you do decide to leave, I strongly suggest that you do not tell anyone. Please do remove any traces from your phone or your computer such as your browsing history, cookies, emails etc. while seeking assistance.
Check out this counseling video:
As you are in a dangerous situation, you shouldn’t have anyone know what you are planning to do if you want to leave. So please, do take care and cover your tracks.
If you enlist the help of a domestic violence agency, community center, or counselor in your area, they would be able to help you make a plan of action to safely leave. I highly recommend contacting a domestic violence center as they are equipped to act quickly and get you to safety in an inconspicuous way.
A New Life
As I’m not sure where you live, I cannot give you any referrals. However, please do seek out assistance to leave. Leaving is a drastic step, but it is one that may lead you to an enjoyable, peaceful life without fear. Sister, you have great insight into your situation despite your mental health disorders. You see the need for you to leave for your safety and for your continued healing.
Allah helps those who help themselves and it is my belief that Allah is helping you by giving you the determination and the will to change your life and live as happily and joyfully as He intended for you to live.
I imagine it can be scary to think of moving away, but your life, safety, well-being, and future goals and dreams depend on it. I must reiterate that none of this is your fault. You were a beautiful child and now you are a beautiful young woman.
You did not deserve this. Perhaps now is the time to embark upon your journey towards safety and healing. You have your whole life ahead of you, and it can be beautiful and fulfilling.
Sister, I encourage you to reach out to other family members who live far away, but only if they are safe. If family is not a safe haven, think of friends or others you know who may be able to help you get a place to stay.
If that, too, is not possible, a domestic violence center should be able to set you up in safe houses. Safe houses are for women who are traveling to a destination (or staying in location) and need a place to stay. Safe houses are usually people’s homes who offer help to women, and they are screened and safe.
In shaa’ Allah, while thinking about your options, you may want to also think about where it is you would like to live. Would you like to go to university in the future? Do you wish to live in a certain area? Is there a specific place you feel you could do well in?
If so, you may want to discuss this with the counselor as you plan your move. Again, it is imperative that no one knows of your plans or where you’re going or doing. I encourage you to keep your daily activities and attitude the same; you do not want to raise suspicion.
In shaa’ Allah, you will leave this horrific situation and get settled somewhere else far away. When you are settled, you will be able to continue your healing process, in shaa’ Allah. You will need therapy as you heal, as well as support groups if you so choose. I always highly suggest support groups as they provide many solid coping skills, as well as getting in touch with others who were in your situation and successfully healed.
Listening to other women’s stories of their experiences and successes will give you inspiration, hope, and a new view on life. You deserve this and so much more.
Deciding to Stay
Sister, I know all of this is very stressful, scary, and complicated sounding. However, it is your choice if you leave. I just want you to know that there are options for your safety and healing. I want you to know that you can heal, and you can begin a new life with hopes, dreams, and peace of mind.
There will be supports and resources, should you decide to leave. If you decide to stay, there are also resources, counseling, support groups, and emergency numbers to call if you feel threatened. Please make istikhara (prayer asking for guidance) regarding your situation. I want you to be safe and happy, dear sister.
Draw Close to Allah
Sister, please do stay close to Allah. Go to Allah in duaa, make dhzikr, and ask for His mercy, protection, and guidance. Allah loves you, sister, and He will be with you each step of your journey.
Please do let us know how you are doing and if we can be of further assistance to you.
You are in my prayers.
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.