My Sister Is Between an Abusive Father & Husband

12 August, 2020
Q Salam. My elder sister is in an abusive marriage. She is married to our cousin (by my father’s side), and the relationship went bad and abusive after her baby was born (2 years into their marriage).

He doesn't physically abuse her, but he verbally and emotionally abuses her and curses my family. This happens every time they are together, and my sister is helpless against his screaming and taunting.

My father is just like my cousin; emotionally abusive and profane as well, and he doesn't support my sister. Her husband is aware of this, and constantly taunts her that her own family does not support her. She did come back home (without divorce) after her husband continued to be abusive despite efforts to reconcile.

My father let her stay, but not without backbiting her the whole time she stayed and yelling/cursing at my mother. He has kicked my sister out of the house twice now. Each time, she is forced to return to her husband, but the same thing happens again; her husband is not interested in divorce or talking it out, and he doesn't let her see her family and traps her in the house.

The last time my father kicked my sister and her baby out. He was in extreme rage and threatened my mother with divorce if she lets my sister back in again.

Thus, my mother cannot help her as she is a victim of abuse herself. What is the best way to help my sister? She wants to divorce as her husband doesn't support her financially, but because of the stigma in Pakistani families about divorcing, and also the fact that my father makes the situation worse, she has been facing abuse from both.

What should I do? (I am in university housing in another city, thus I do not live at home.) Please help, as I am worried about my sister's emotional and psychological health as she has no support.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

Your sister cannot keep bouncing back and forth between an abusive father and husband. Your sister needs to make a choice regarding herself and her kids. She does not need permission to get divorced as her circumstances indicate she has that right Islamically and legally.

More importantly, she needs to consider contacting authorities and legally taking action to end her marriage despite family and cultural stigma.

If family support, friends, and marriage therapy are unlikely to help her situation, then get the state involved. Use legal measures to get the support you need.


As-Salaam ’Alaikum sister,

I am sorry to hear about the difficult times your sister is in. Sadly, what you described is a very oppressive situation in your family and will require professional intervention to improve communication and conflict resolution skills.

If Islamic character was truly understood and practiced, then, of course, much of this would not occur and people would fear God in their doings and know that they will be accountable for their actions. Without this true belief that we will meet our Lord and be responsible for our behaviors, it is very difficult to work with.

Making a Choice

What you have described to me sounds like family involvement is of little effect. Your sister cannot keep bouncing back and forth between an abusive father and husband. Your sister needs to make a choice regarding herself and her kids. She does not need permission to get divorced as her circumstances indicate she has that right Islamically and legally.

More importantly, she needs to consider contacting authorities and legally taking action to end her marriage despite family and cultural stigma.

Islam teaches justice, truth, and mercy. If your family can’t aid in these principles, then you have to get support elsewhere. Perhaps this will bring light to everyone involved that she will not keep getting abused and thrown around like she has no value.


Check out this counseling video:


Conclusion

In conclusion, if family support, friends, and marriage therapy are unlikely to help her situation, then get the state involved. Use legal measures to get the support you need. They will provide social workers to assess the case and provide relief, and divorce case can be submitted based on circumstances.

In crisis situations, one must take any help they can get and this will help those who are in the wrong realizing they must evolve as people and that being an oppressor is a serious transgression.

At the end of the day, your sister has to decide if she wants to live in the current situation to avoid the stigma of divorce or consider her well being and have alternatives using social-legal. Please, reach out to any of the following hotlines in Canada:

Salam,

***

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.

Read more:

About Karim Serageldin
Karim Serageldin, founder of Noor, completed his BA in psychology & religion, followed by an MA in east-west psychology with a specialization in spiritual counseling. He is a certified life coach with years of teaching and community outreach experience. His practical work and research includes developing a modern framework of Islamic psychology, relationship, family and youth coaching. He provides seminars and workshops in the United States. You can contact Br. Karim at: http://www.noorhumanconsulting.com or facebook.com/noorhumanconsulting