How Can I Respect My Father When He Molested Me?!

19 November, 2019
Q I was sexually assaulted by my own father when I was ten. At first, I didn't know what really was happening. But when I told my mom about this, she told me to forgive him and he won't do it anymore.

But now I'm 19 and still I feel great pain in my heart. Islam always gives great value to parents, but I cannot accept this fact. I am really suffering a lot.

When I was 15, another incident like this happened from my father's friend. It really is hard to endure. Seeing the face and voice of a person whom you hate at most and living a life with that person's expenses. What should I do?

Answer


In this counseling answer:

• It is true the great emphasis is put on respecting, loving, and taking care of parents. We are also to forgive. However, Allah does not expect you to endure sexual assault and not protect yourself or seek a way out of the situation. Allah does not want you to be in an environment where you are putting your safety and well-being at risk.

• Know sister that this is not your fault. You are not to blame.

• Please do seek out counseling.

• Make a list of your options. Whether it be moving in with a family member, starting studies at a university, moving away for a job, or other options that you may have.

• Focus on yourself sister; include self-care, counseling and moving out.

• Draw close to Allah. Make dua to Allah to guide you in the right direction, protect you and bless you.


As Salamu Alaikum dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us with your questions and for trusting us with your situation. Hearing about your situation dear sister is one that brings great pain and anguish. The sexual abuse, assault on any child or woman is one of the most despicable violations of all. It is vile and sinful and something which Allah hates very much. I am so sorry this has happened to you.

Allah Did Not Create You to Be Sexually Assaulted/Abused

Sister, Allah did not create you to be abused or violated. You were created with love, and Allah entrusted you to your parents, but they have failed miserably to protect you. What makes matters viler is that your own father and then his friend sexually assaulted you. Your mother chose to ignore what was happening and tell you to forgive him. While this is sometimes a response from some mothers due to culture, fear, and other factors, it is unacceptable, and it in itself is abusive.

How Can I Respect My Father When He Molested Me?! - About Islam

She was charged to protect you. Your father is also charged by Allah to protect you. Instead, as a child, you were sexually assaulted and those who knew turned a blind eye. Oh, what a grievous day it will be for those sexual predators when they meet Allah.

Islam Does Not Expect You to Remain with Abusers/Oppressors

Sister, Islam does not promote abuse of any kind, especially sexual abuse. Yes, it is true the great emphasis is put on respecting, loving, and taking care of parents. We are also to forgive. However, Allah does not expect you to endure sexual assault and not protect yourself or seek a way out of the situation. Allah does not want you to be in an environment where you are putting your safety and well-being at risk.

As your mental health is considered part of your well-being, it is also a critical consideration. Thus, as far as considering your parents (father) in a normal Islamic way, it may not pertain to you sister as you were sexually violated and assaulted.

“As for those who, after having been treated badly, bring about justice themselves, against them no action can be taken. Action will only be taken against those who are unjust to men and who without reason, become violent on earth – these are the ones who will receive a painful punishment.” (42:41-42)

As your “action” includes not wanting to be around your father who sexually abused you-that is your right to protect yourself from further harm. You’re wanting to distance yourself is a self-preservation sister.

You Are Not to Blame

Please, know sister that this is not your fault. You are not to blame. What you feel now regarding not being able to forgive, feeling hate, and generally suffering, is a natural response to what has happened to you. It is a human response to a tragic and traumatic assault on your body, mind, spirit, and soul. Just know this is not your fault. You did nothing to cause this assault. I know it’s painful and I’m so sorry, but you will heal eventually insha’Allah, and you will be able to live a normal and happy life insha’Allah.


Check out this counseling video:


Seeking Help; Planning for Future

You are now 19 years old and it is not surprising that you are still enduring emotional trauma from the sexual assaults from your father and his friend. I can imagine dear sister that you have great difficulty seeing your father’s face and hearing his voice every day. It is almost like a wound that keeps reopening; you may not heal as long as you are around him.

As your mother has not been supportive, nor has she protected you for her own reasons, you cannot go to her for help. At this point sister, I kindly suggest that you talk about this with a trusted relative who can assist you. Perhaps there was someone kind in your family that you are close to and can confide in and ask for help. Perhaps you can stay with another family member or a friend.

As you are 19 years old, you are now a young adult. I will kindly suggest insha’Allah that you start thinking about what you would like to do in the near future. Perhaps college?  By going to a university, you will be able to move out of the house insha’Allah. If a university is not in the future for some reason, please do think about a certain job or career path that will enable you to move.

In addition to seeking help within your family and friends circle, please do seek counseling insha’Allah. Counseling will help with the trauma and emotional pain of being sexually assaulted insha’Allah.

I’m not sure what part of India you live, but insha’Allah there should be counseling centers, community centers, or even sexual abuse organizations that you can reach out to for help. If you have confidence in your imam, you may wish to discuss the situation with him for spiritual guidance. However, is it is not known what the stance is in your area of the country/community regarding sexual assault, it would be wise to know if this is something that is beneficial for you.

Counseling and Beginning to Heal

As you are still young, it is imperative that you get counseling as soon as possible. Insha’Allah, look for counselors who are experienced with sexual assault/abuse issues. Alternatively, seek out a specialized sexual assault organization to connect with.

While you did not describe in detail any mental health issues you might be experiencing, it is common for survivors of sexual assaults to experience post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, panic disorder, depression, and other mental health outcomes. By starting counseling now, you can begin to heal.

Also, by starting counseling now you can minimize the impact or the damage that may occur from ongoing untreated trauma. I would kindly suggest that you speak with your family doctor for a referral to a therapist if you cannot find anything in your area.

Additionally, there are very good and reputable support groups for survivors of sexual assault online. Of course, you would have to ensure that the group is legitimate and professionally run. Support groups can provide a lot of information, coping skills, as well as listening to others share their stories and their successes of how they recovered. You will also be able to share your story if you so wish. One good thing about support groups is that there is healing and power when people come together to share, educate, comfort, and protect each other.

Forgiveness for Sexual Assault?

Sister, again I’m so sorry about what has happened to you. Sadly, you are not alone. There are millions of women and young girls (and boys) who are sexually assaulted around the world. As Muslims, one would think that this evil does not exist in our ummah. However, it does and at alarming rates. This vile, despicable behavior from men who are supposed to uphold Islamic values and protect their women and children is utterly appalling.

With that said, I do not see forgiveness in the formula. May Allah forgive me, I am not an Islamic scholar. However, there are some things that are just so evil that forgiveness is incomprehensible. Please do consult with our “Ask the Scholar” section for a more Islamic answer regarding forgiveness and sexual abuse / assault.

Yes, God commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality towards your close relations. He forbids all shameful acts, bad deeds and rebellion. He exhorts you. Maybe you will think on it.” (16:90).

Allah Loves You and Wants You Safe

Sister, Allah did not create you to be abused nor did He create you to continue suffering in that memory of the abuse. Allah loves you and wants you to be happy and healed. It might be that your healing will start when you leave home. At this point, it is it is a decision that you must make.

“So the roots of the people who were unjust were cut off; and all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds” (Qur’an 6:45).

Leaving Home to Heal

I do not know your situation at home regarding safety, therefore, I caution you to be mindful and careful if you do plan to leave should you feel you may be harmed. Again, this is something that you may wish to discuss with a close family member, friend or counselor therapist. They can advise you on how to leave in a safe way if this is the case.

Conclusion

Dear sister, please do seek out counseling. Make a list of your options. Whether it be moving in with a family member, starting studies at a university, moving away for a job, or other options that you may have. As you have been suffering, it seems that the only way you will begin to heal is when you are out of the house and away from the perpetrator. At any rate, sister please do try to plan, set goals and look at your options regarding moving out.

Please focus on yourself sister; include self-care, counseling and moving out. Allah will not be angry with you sister as it is your right to protect yourself. Allah hears the cries of the oppressed and the abused.

Draw close to Allah. Make dua to Allah to guide you in the right direction, protect you and bless you. It may be difficult leaving at first; however, anything worthwhile may be difficult when first initiating.

Change is not easy. However, you are a precious, beautiful, pious young Muslim girl and you deserve the opportunity to heal from this tragic scenario. Please do let us know how you are doing.

You are in my prayers.

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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:

A Father Sexually Abused His Daughter; What to Do?

No One Would Believe My Father-in-Law Molests Me

Self-Care – The Sunnah Way

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.